Authors: Andy Warhol,Pat Hackett
PENGUIN MODERN CLASSICS
Andy Warhol, a painter and graphic artist, also produced a significant body of film work, including the famous
. Equally well known in the late sixties and early seventies as resident in his studio, the Factory, Warhol died in New York in 1987.
Pat Hackett worked closely with Andy Warhol for twenty years, co-authoring two books and a screenplay as well as serving as his diarist.
ANDY WARHOL and PAT HACKETT
The Warhol Sixties
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First published 1980
Published in Penguin Modern Classics 2007
Copyright Â© Andy Warhol, 1980
All rights reserved
The moral right of the author has been asserted
Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject
to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent,
re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's
prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in
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OTHER BOOKS BY ANDY WARHOL
Andy Warhol's Index
a (a novel)
Andy Warhol's Exposures
The Andy Warhol Diaries
The Philosophy of Andy Warhol
Because Steven M. L. Aronson is a great friend, he continued editing this book even after he left publishing. His wit, eccentric insights, and just plain discrimination were invaluable. Line by line, thread by thread, he shaped the scenes that were the sixties.
A. W. and P. H.
This is my personal view of the Pop phenomenon in New York in the 1960s. In writing it, Pat Hackett and I have reconstructed the decade, starting in '60 when I began to paint my first Pop canvases. It's a look back at what life was like then for my friends and meâat the paintings, movies, fashions, and music, at the superstars and the relationships that made up the scene at our Manhattan loft, the place known as the Factory.
If I'd gone ahead and died ten years ago, I'd probably be a cult figure today. By 1960, when Pop Art first came out in New York, the art scene here had so much going for it that even all the stiff European types had to finally admit we were a part of world culture. Abstract Expressionism had already become an institution, and then, in the last part of the fifties, Jasper Johns and Bob Rauschenberg and others had begun to bring art back from abstraction and introspective stuff. Then Pop Art took the inside and put it outside, took the outside and put it inside.
The Pop artists did images that anybody walking down Broadway could recognize in a split secondâcomics, picnic tables, men's trousers, celebrities, shower curtains, refrigerators, Coke bottlesâall the great modern things that the Abstract Expressionists tried so hard not to notice at all.
One of the phenomenal things about the Pop painters is that they were already painting alike when they met. My friend Henry Geldzahler, curator of twentieth-century art at the Metropolitan Museum before he was appointed official culture czar of New York, once described the beginnings of Pop this way: “It was like a science fiction movieâyou Pop artists in different parts of the city, unknown to each other, rising up out of the muck and staggering forward with your paintings in front of you.”
The person I got my art training from was Emile de Antonioâwhen I first met De, I was a commercial artist. In the sixties De
became known for his films on Nixon and McCarthy, but back in the fifties he was an artists' agent. He connected artists with everything from neighborhood movie houses to department stores and huge corporations. But he only worked with friends; if De didn't like you, he couldn't be bothered.
De was the first person I know of to see commercial art as real art and real art as commercial art, and he made the whole New York art world see it that way, too.
In the fifties John Cage lived near De in the country, up in Pomona, and they'd gotten to be good friends. De produced a concert of John's there, and that's how he first met Jasper Johns and Bob Rauschenberg. “They were both of them on their hands and knees driving nails, building the set,” De told me once. “They were penniless then, living down on Pearl Street, and they'd take baths when they came out to the country because they had no shower at their placeâjust a little sink to take a whore's bath in.”
De got Jasper and Bob work doing windows at Tiffany's for Gene Moore, and for those jobs, rather than use their real names, they both used the same pseudonymâ“Matson Jones.”
“Bob would have all these commercial ideas for the window displays, and some of them,” De once said, “could be very bad. But a really interesting one he had was to put stuff down on blueprint paper so you'd get a transfer of image. That was around '55 when you couldn't give away one of his paintings.” De laughed his hefty laugh, evidently recalling the wide range of Bob's ideas. “His displays that were crude were beautiful, but the ones that were sort of âarty' were terrible.” I remember De telling me all this so well, because right at that point he said, “I don't know why
don't become a painter, Andyâyou've got more ideas than anybody around.”
Even a few other people had told me that. I was never sure, though, what my place could be in the whole painting scene. De's support and his open attitude gave me confidence.
After I'd done my first canvases, De was the person I wanted to show them to. He could always see the value of something right off. He wouldn't hedge with “Where does it come from?” or “Who did it?” He would just look at something and tell you exactly what he thought. He'd often stop by my place for drinks late in the afternoonâhe lived right in the neighborhoodâand we'd usually just gab while I showed him whatever commercial drawings or illustrations I was working on. I loved to listen to De talk. He spoke beautifully, in a deep, easy voice with every comma and period falling into place. (He'd once taught philosophy at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and literature at the City College of New York.) He made you feel somehow that if you listened to him long enough, you'd probably pick up everything you'd ever need to know in life. We'd both have a lot of whiskey out of some Limoges cups I had, my serving system at the time. De was a heavy drinker, but I had my fair share, too.
I worked at home in those days. My house was on four floors, including a living area in the basement where the kitchen was and where my mother lived with a lot of cats, all named Sam. (My mother had shown up one night at the apartment where I was living with a few suitcases and shopping bags, and she announced that she'd left Pennsylvania for good “to come live with my Andy.” I told her okay, she could stay, but just until I got a burglar alarm. I loved Mom, but frankly I thought she'd get tired of the city pretty quick and miss Pennsylvania and my brothers and their families. But as it turned out, she didn't, and that's when I decided to get this house uptown.) She had the
downstairs part and I lived on the upper floors and worked on the parlor floor that was sort of schizoâhalf like a studio, full of drawings and art supplies, and half like a regular living room. I always kept the blinds drawnâthe windows faced west and not much light came in anywayâand the walls were wood-paneled. There was a somber feeling about that room. I had some Victorian furniture mixed in with an old wooden carousel horse, a carnival punching machine, Tiffany lamps, a cigar store Indian, stuffed peacocks, and penny arcade machines.
My drawings were stacked neatly, I was very organized about that. I've always been a person who's semiorganized, constantly fighting the tendency to clutter, and there were all these little piles of things in bunches here and there that I hadn't had a chance to sort through.
At five o'clock one particular afternoon the doorbell rang and De came in and sat down. I poured Scotch for us, and then I went over to where two paintings I'd done, each about six feet high and three feet wide, were propped, facing the wall. I turned them around and placed them side by side against the wall and then I backed away to take a look at them myself. One of them was a Coke bottle with Abstract Expressionist hash marks halfway up the side. The second one was just a stark, outlined Coke bottle in black and white. I didn't say a thing to De. I didn't have toâhe knew what I wanted to know.
“Well, look, Andy,” he said after staring at them for a couple of minutes. “One of these is a piece of shit, simply a little bit of everything. The other is remarkableâit's our society, it's who we are, it's absolutely beautiful and naked, and you ought to destroy the first one and show the other.”
That afternoon was an important one for me.
I can't even count the number of people after that day who when they saw my paintings burst out laughing. But De never thought Pop was a joke.
As he was leaving he looked down at my feet and said, “When the
are you going to get yourself a new pair of shoes? You've been wearing those that way all over town for a year. They're crummy and
are sticking out.” I enjoyed De's honesty a lot, but I didn't get new shoesâit'd taken me too long to break that pair in. I took his advice about most other things, though.
I used to go around to all the galleries in the late fifties, usually with a good friend of mine named Ted Carey. Ted and I both had wanted to have our portraits done by Fairfield Porter, and we'd thought that it would be cheaper if he painted us in tandem and then we could cut it apart and each take half. But when he'd posed us, he sat us so close together on the couch that we couldn't slice a straight line between us and I'd had to buy Ted out. Anyway, Ted and I followed the art scene together, keeping up with what was going on.
One afternoon Ted called up very excited to say he'd just seen a painting at the Leo Castelli Gallery that looked like a comic book and that I should go right over there and have a look myself because it was the same sort of thing I was doing.
I met Ted later and we walked upstairs to the gallery. Ted was buying a Jasper Johns light bulb drawing for $475, so it was easy to maneuver ourselves into the back room, and there I saw what Ted had been telling me aboutâa painting of a man in a rocket ship with a girl in the background. I asked the guy who was showing us the stuff, “What's that over there?” He said it was a painting by a young artist named Roy Lichtenstein. I asked
him what he thought of it and he said, “I think it's absolutely provocative, don't you?” So I told him I did paintings that were similar and asked if he'd like to come up to my studio and look at them. We made an appointment for later that afternoon. His name was Ivan Karp.
When Ivan came by, I had all my commercial art drawings stashed away out of sight. As long as he didn't know anything about me, there was no sense bringing up my advertising background. I still had the two styles I was working inâthe more lyrical painting with gestures and drips, and the hard style without the gestures. I liked to show both to people to goad them into commenting on the differences, because I still wasn't sure if you could completely remove all the hand gesture from art and become noncommittal, anonymous. I knew that I definitely wanted to take away the commentary of the gesturesâthat's why I had this routine of painting with rock and roll blasting the same song, a 45 rpm, over and over all day longâsongs like the one that was playing the day Ivan came by for the first time, “I Saw Linda Yesterday” by Dickey Lee. The music blasting cleared my head out and left me working on instinct alone. In fact, it wasn't only rock and roll that I used that wayâI'd also have the radio blasting opera, and the TV picture on (but not the sound)âand if all that didn't clear enough out of my mind, I'd open a magazine, put it beside me, and half read an article while I painted. The works I was most satisfied with were the cold “no comment” paintings.