Warhol-mania: why the famous pop artist is everywhere again

Andy Warhol left many self-portraits. There was the black and white shot of a photo booth strip, from 1963, in which he wore dark blac...


Andy Warhol left many self-portraits.

There was the black and white shot of a photo booth strip, from 1963, in which he wore dark black shades and a cool expression. In nineteen eighty one, he took a Polaroid of himself in drag, complete with a platinum blonde bob and bold red lips. Five years later he screen printed her face, with bright red acrylic paint, on a black background. These and other images of the Pop Art master are among his best-known works.

But one of his most telling self-portraits was not a portrait at all, in the conventional sense of the word. Between 1976 and 1987, the artist regularly dictated his thoughts, fears, feelings and opinions — about art, himself and his universe — by telephone to his friend and collaborator Pat Hackett. In 1989, two years after his death, Hackett published “The Andy Warhol Diaries”, a transcribed, edited and condensed version of their phone calls.

And now, over three decades later, “The Andy Warhol Diaries” has arrived on Netflix as a bittersweet documentary series directed by Andrew Rossi. In a video interview, the director pointed out that Warhol wanted the book to be published after his death.

“It seems there’s a message that maybe he didn’t even understand,” Rossi said. “There’s an open invitation to interpret it as there is with any of his work – because I see the diaries as another self-portrait in his work.”

Warhol’s cultural significance has hardly diminished in the decades since his death in 1987. His fascination with branding and fame, along with the famous saying often attributed to him – “to the ‘future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes’ – are even more relevant in the age of social media and reality TV.

“There’s a reason ‘Warholian’ remains a description,” Rossi said. “He is one of the few artists to have transcended his personality and become part of the language and the cultural fabric.”

But if Warhol seems particularly ubiquitous right now, it’s because he is — on screen, on stage, in museums and on the streets. Earlier this month, Ryan Raftery returned to Joe’s Pub with the biting bio-musical celeb “Andy Warhol’s Trial.” Anthony McCarten’s new play in London, “Cooperation— which revolves around the relationship between Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat — is already to be adapted for the big screen. The Brooklyn Museum exhibit “Andy Warhol: Revelationinvestigates his Catholic upbringing. And starting Friday, Bated Breath Theater Company will present the production of the theatrical walking tour”In pursuit of Andy Warholin the streets of the East Village.

Together, the works create a kaleidoscopic portrait of the human under the white wig. Even as he has forged an indelible identity of international renown, this child of Immigrants from Carpatho RusynOndrej and Julia Warhola, grappling with his faith (Byzantine Catholic) and his sexual orientation (gay, but never as much as many of his contemporaries) – areas that “The Andy Warhol Diaries” and “Andy Warhol: Revelation” explore in particular .

A significant portion of the Netflix series examines Warhol’s romantic relationships. He delves into Warhol’s struggles to show his love for his first long-term partner, an interior designer named Jed Johnson. Later comes preppy Paramount executive Jon Gould, whom Warhol showered with affection but ultimately died of AIDS.

Jessica Beck, curator at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, was interviewed in the documentary series. Rossi found it through his work on the Whitney Museum’s 2018 exhibition”Andy Warhol — From A to B and Back”, for which she wrote an essay titled “Warhol’s confession: love, faith and AIDS.”

“There are those moments when he doubts himself, when he wonders what it’s like to be successful, what it’s like to grow old, what it’s like to be in love,” he said. she stated. “That’s one of the strengths of what the show reveals is that there’s a human behind this mythical story.”

Beck pointed to tracks from Warhol’s “Last Supper” series, some of which are currently playing in “Andy Warhol: Revelation.” She referred to one painting in particular, “The Last Supper (Be someone with a body)”, which fuses an image of Jesus Christ with that of a bodybuilder, a symbol of health and masculinity. Beck said the work reflects Warhol’s reactions to the AIDS epidemic.

“When you have those two things juxtaposed, you have this real expression of ideas around grief and suffering, but also forgiveness,” she said.

“Andy Warhol: Revelation,” which opened in November and will run until June 19, is divided into seven sections that move visitors from the artist’s immigrant upbringing and the roots of his religion through the different phases of her life and career, with particular emphasis on the tension between her faith and her queer identity.

“It’s beyond cans of soup and Marilynsaid José Carlos Diaz, chief curator of the Andy Warhol Museum, referring to some of Warhol’s pop art successes. Diaz first edited “Revelation” at the Warhol Museum before bringing it to Brooklyn.

Carmen Hermo, associate curator at the Brooklyn Museum, organized the New York presentation of “Revelation”. She and Diaz are the children of immigrants, like Warhol, and she speculated that this part of the artist’s journey helped explain his famous work ethic and fierce drive to create the best version of himself. same.

Diaz said, “To me, he’s living the American dream,” adding that more nuanced and relatable perspectives on the artist “finally got past this mythological Warhol with the big glasses, the big wig.”

Across the East River, Mara Lieberman, executive artistic director of the Bated Breath Theater Company, uses her fair share of glasses and wigs. Beginning Friday, Lieberman will lead “Chasing Andy Warhol,” a theatrical tour through the East Village in which multiple actors play the entertainer simultaneously, hinting at his love of repeated imagery and diverse characters.

One scene depicts something that happened during a trip Warhol took to Hawaii with set designer Charles Lisanby, whom he was in love with at the time. A few days after arriving at the hotel, Lisanby dragged another man back into the room, and Warhol exploded, injured – an event that was described in biographies of the artist.

Warhol said he later realized the power of saying “so what” in response to painful life events, an insight he detailed in his book. “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol.” It is, according to Lieberman, “his greatest coping strategy.”

This attitude was a key ingredient — along with his ideas about identity, technology, celebrity and more — in Warhol’s “highly stylized, constructed, and brilliantly strategic brand,” Lieberman said.

“Andy loved to take life and put a frame around it and say, ‘Look, this is art,'” she said. “We go out on the streets of New York, and we put a frame around things and say, ‘Look, this is art.'”

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