The Life And Death Of Andy Warhol by Victor BockrisA QUOTE FROM ANDY TO SET THE TONE
When I got my first television set, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships.
POOR JOHNNY ONE NOTE
I have a problem with 90% of all modern art – no make that 95%. To put this in context, I have a problem with 95% of everything, and that’s on a good day. I hate Warhol’s stuff marginally less than Jasper Johns’ or Rauschenberg or – well, let’s not get into it. I quite like Andy’s electric chairs and car crashes – amusingly, they didn’t sell because collectors for some entirely superficial reason did not want a PERSON FRYING or MANGLED CORPSES hanging over their dining table or in their gold lame office. Ha ha, they missed the boat there, because those ones really rocketed in price because Andy didn’t do many because they didn’t sell. The rest of it, the portraits and the soup cans and Marilyns is a celebration of banality which only scores jeavily by the simple device of turning up the volume and drowning out every other noise. It’s a good joke once. But I don’t like these artistic johnny one notes anyhow – Mark Rothko was the same but less funny.
HIS FLACCID MEMBER
Also, Warhol’s films are horrible, but that’s okay, they’re supposed to be. Robert Hughes called them “hour upon hour of tantrum, misery, sexual spasm, campery and nose-picking trivia”. Anyway, the barely-watchable ones are directed by Paul Morrissey. I saw Flesh and Trash years ago. Flesh caused more walk-outs than any movie I was ever at – bang, bang, bang went all the seats as they snapped up when offended patrons stormed out. They thought they could take Joe Dallesandro with a pretty ribbon bow tied round his flaccid member and trying to find a vein in his groin, but they couldn’t, so out they went into the bitter winter night. Trash was miles better, it was funny. In the last Andy Warhol movie, Bad (1976), a woman throws a baby out of a window. People didn’t like that. Said it broke the mood.
NOBODY GOT PAID
Pre-Flesh ‘n’ Trash, what seems to have happened a lot is that some space cadet would be really high and would suggest something loopy to Andy and he would go wow gee that’s great we must make a movie of that and he would get someone who knew how to switch on a camera to do the idea i.e. actually film it. Andy would ask a couple of people to be in it, probably the person who thought of it would be there, and they would do the whole thing in a day in one take with no script. If the sound was audible, that was a bonus. You think I’m joking. I’m not joking. So the film would be like two oddballs having a desultory conversation about something inaudible, and after 45 minutes the guys takes his clothes off and then wanders off set. End. Then Andy would get offended when other people who watched the movie like say a critic didn’t think it was brilliant. The other thing that happened is that nobody got paid.
THE OPPOSITE OF A CULT
Also what happened, and I thought this was interesting, is The Factory. Everyone knows about Andy Warhol’s Factory, and it’s all true. It was the opposite of a cult. A cult is where a bunch of idiots think they will get closer to God or create the perfect revolution by following this loudmouth macho when they know, we know, the loudmouth knows, the postman and his second cousin knows, that the whole cult thing exists for the sole purpose of the loudmouth macho getting to sleep with younger and better looking women than his existing lifestyle will permit, and drive about in younger and better looking cars. People drifted into the Factory and hung around and semi-or full-on-worshipped Andy but Andy never said anything, never told them to do anything, he just did his art and his movies. In a cult, it’s all about the big loudmouth. In the Factory, it was all about the freaks. Which Robert Hughes described thus:
They were all cultural space-debris, drifting fragments from a variety of sixties subcultures orbiting in smeary ellipses around their unmoved mover.
Andy was never in his own movies. They were the superstars and he was a blank look at the centre of it all. When these drifting speed freaks, junkies, trannies, hustlers, self-promoters, self-believing wannabe poets, actors, beautiful people, when all this New York flotsam started self-destructing, as they did, Andy got a lot of stick. Oh he should of taken better care of them, didn’t he realise. Well, he was prone to say stuff like “He should have told us he was going to commit suicide so we could have filmed it” but he was yanking their chains. He had a sense of humour, which I think is the best thing about Andy Warhol. But he didn’t ask them to be the pen around his umbra. They came, they stayed and from time to time they died. Fred Herko in 1964, Edie Sedgwick in 1971, Andrea Feldman in 1972, Candy Darling in 1974, Eric Emerson in 1975. But plenty lived to a ripe old age and are still around now – Viva, Ondine, International Velvet, Holly Woodlawn, lots of them.
THE CRAP THEY TALKED
In the 60s people would say total crap out loud and other people would eagerly write it down :
Andy likes other people to become Andy for him. He doesn’t want to be always in charge of everything. He would rather be me or someone else sometimes. It’s part of pop art, that everybody can impersonate somebody else. That you don’t always have to be you to be you.
Thus saith Nico.
This is a great book if you’re interested in Andy Warhol. Sounds obvious, but I have read plenty biographies which wander off topic a lot. Here there’s a whole lot of detail about his life – as we cavalcade through the 60s, it’s a month-by-month account. It’s gossipy and appropriately vulgar. It doesn’t employ one single microdot of literary style as it ponders celibate gay Andy’s sex life, Andy’s wigs, Andy’s fruitbat mother, Andy’s money, Andy’s parties.
SO ANDY NEVER GOT ANYBODY, BUT NOT EVERYBODY GOT ANDY
Drunk Willem De Kooning, at a party, to Andy Warhol:
You’re a killer of art, you’re a killer of beauty, and you’re even a killer of laughter. I can’t bear your work!
THE VENN DIAGRAMS OF MULTIPLE BIOGRAPHIES
It’s always great to meet situations and events you already know from other works from a whole other perspective. Like in Gus van Sant’s movie Elephant. You been down this corridor following this person who gets shot, now you backtrack and go down the same corridor following the shooter. In this case it was Dylan, whose story is very well known, who intersected with Andy via Edie Sedgwick and Nico, very briefly, and the Velvet Underground, whose story is a little less well known but familiar to some of us here. It was like - wow, I met you already. Hello again.
KISS THE BOOT OF SHINY, SHINY LEATHER
How would you like it if you were this great undiscovered band and the famous hipster art terrorist Andy Warhol discovers you and says he’s going to make things happen but first you have to have this 6 foot tall gloomy German woman in the band who will now sing most of the songs because she is his new superstar. You’d do like Lou, John, Stirling & Mo did. You’d huff & puff & mutter and scheme to get rid of her at the earliest opportunity. (Since Nico had little interest in singing anything apart from her own tuneless wonders, it wasn’t hard to convince her to go away. After she went, she claimed every VU song was written for her.)
THE ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OF ANDY WARHOL
In 1968 a woman called Valerie Solanas was one of the random Factory crowd and gave Andy a script for a movie. This was not uncommon. He never read it and couldn’t remember where he left it, also not uncommon. This festered with Valerie who thought she had written the new Citizen Kane so she conceived that Andy was trying to take control of her life which was very wicked. Unfortunately for all radical feminists, Valerie was a radical feminist who was also unbalanced, and so gave them a bad name for a time. As for instance she went about the streets of NYC handing out the SCUM manifesto. SCUM = Society for Cutting Up Men. It sounds funny except she was serious. Well, in 1967 and 1968 lots of countercultural types did similar things, probably whilst wearing a parrot cage on the top of their bushy Afro at the same time. It wasn’t uncommon. SCUM had only one member which was Valerie. As the rage grew inside her about the script and her bad life, she decided to cut up Andy. So she wandered into the Factory, as people did, and asked Andy for the script, again, and got the brush off, and pulled a gun out of a brown paper bag and shot him twice. Then shot someone else and wandered off into the streets. There was blood all over. Andy very nearly died. Valerie got three years in jail. Not a whole lot, really. After that The Factory relocated and the freaks were not invited.
HEY BABE, TAKE A WALK ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE
This is where the story turns a nauseating corner. Andy quit painting – maybe we should call it “painting” – for four or five years to do movies and by the time he came back to “painting” which was after the shooting his prices were high and he was feted. It was goodbye Holly, goodbye Viva and Ondine, bye bye Candy darling, and hello Diana Vreeland and Bianca Jagger and nice to see you Truman Capote and Gore Vidal and hello darling Liz Taylor as Andy became the gold medallist social climber of the 1972 Olympics. (And later schmoozing the Shah of Iran, ugh.) When Andy relaunched his little magazine Interview the new editor said “we’re trying to reach high-spending people”. Interview’s vision of how people should be was “rich, beautiful, young and hard-working”. Patrick Bateman would have been an early subscriber. What with that and hanging out at Studio 54, Andy was the punk who became a disco diva, with a concomitant flattening of the beat and less interesting lyrics. Some disco is really good (More More More, Rock Your Baby, Love Hangover) and nearly all of punk is really bad but you know which side of that street you want your artists to be on.
On the other hand, it’s hard to beat a room full of Warhol Maos.
This was a rare life. It’s true it gets less interesting the richer and more complacent Andy got, but he himself remained pretty weird right up to the end.
HE WAS TRULY HATED
One obituary said:
Only in a culture where art has lost all seriousness and standards have become meaningless could an illustrator and self-publicist such as Warhol be accepted as an artist
Warhols hypnotised voyeuristic stare of smarmy whitened worminess inspired much fascinated talk about what you find under rocks
And Andy would have said :
Gee, do you think we could get all the really worst quotes about me and then get the critic who hates me the very most to read them out and film him? Wouldn’t that be great?
Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait , ca. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic. Devout Byzantine Catholics, the family regularly attended mass and observed their Eastern European heritage. As a child, Warhol suffered from Sydenham chorea, a neurological disorder commonly known as St. Vitus dance, characterized by involuntary movements. When the disorder occasionally kept him home from school, Warhol would read comics and Hollywood magazines and play with paper cutouts. Andy Warhol, View of Concert Hall , ca.
His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, advertising , and celebrity culture that flourished by the s, and span a variety of media, including painting, silkscreening , photography, film, and sculpture. Some of his best known works include the silkscreen paintings Campbell's Soup Cans and Marilyn Diptych , the experimental film Chelsea Girls , and the multimedia events known as the Exploding Plastic Inevitable — Born and raised in Pittsburgh , Warhol initially pursued a successful career as a commercial illustrator. After exhibiting his work in several galleries in the late s, he began to receive recognition as an influential and controversial artist. His New York studio, The Factory , became a well-known gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals , drag queens , playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities, and wealthy patrons. He lived openly as a gay man before the gay liberation movement.
British Broadcasting Corporation Home. Andrew Warhola was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Between and Warhol studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. In , he moved to New York and changed his name to Warhol. He worked as a commercial artist for magazines and also designed advertising and window displays. In the early s, he began to experiment with reproductions based on advertisements, newspaper headlines and other mass-produced images from American popular culture such as Campbell's soup tins and Coca Cola bottles.
You ought to be able to be an Abstract Expressionist next week, or a Pop artist, or a realist, without feeling you've given up something. I think that would be so great, to be able to change styles. - You ought to be able to be an Abstract Expressionist next week, or a Pop artist, or a realist, without feeling you've given up something.
Born on August 6, , in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Andy Warhol was a successful magazine and ad illustrator who became a leading artist of the s Pop art movements. He ventured into a wide variety of art forms, including performance art, filmmaking, video installations and writing, and controversially blurred the lines between fine art and mainstream aesthetics. Warhol died on February 22, , in New York City. In his later life, Warhol suffered from chronic issues with his gall bladder. On February 20, , he was admitted to New York Hospital where his gall bladder was successfully removed and he seemed to be recovering. However, days later he suffered complications that resulted in sudden cardiac arrest and he died on February 22, at the age of Thousands of people attended a memorial for the artist at St.
An adroit self-publicist, he projected a concept of the artist as an impersonal, even vacuous, figure who is nevertheless a successful celebrity, businessman, and social climber. The son of Ruthenian Rusyn immigrants from what is now eastern Slovakia , Warhol graduated in from the Carnegie Institute of Technology now Carnegie Mellon University , Pittsburgh, with a degree in pictorial design. He then went to New York City, where he worked as a commercial illustrator for about a decade. By he was mass-producing these purposely banal images of consumer goods by means of photographic silkscreen prints, and he then began printing endless variations of portraits of celebrities in garish colours. As the s progressed, Warhol devoted more of his energy to filmmaking. Usually classed as underground films , such motion pictures of his as The Chelsea Girls , Eat , My Hustler , and Blue Movie are known for their inventive eroticism, plotless boredom, and inordinate length up to 25 hours. In Warhol was shot and nearly killed by Valerie Solanas, one of an assemblage of underground film and rock music stars, assorted hangers-on, and social curiosities who frequented his studio, known as the Factory.