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Ebook The Life And Death Of Andy Warhol by Victor Bockris read! Book Title: The Life And Death Of Andy Warhol
The author of the book: Victor Bockris
Edition: Fourth Estate
Date of issue: May 7th 1998
Loaded: 2486 times
Reader ratings: 3.4
ISBN: 1857028058
ISBN 13: 9781857028058
Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 932 KB
City - Country: No data

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When I got my first television set, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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


Warhol's 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?

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