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Klaus Honnef Taschen

© 1993 Benedikt Taschen Verlag GmbH Rohenzollernring 53, D–50672 Koln

© Translated from the German by Carole Fahy and I. Burns for Bookdeals Translations 5, Mill Hill Alresford SO 24 9 DD, England

© Illustrations: The Estate of Andy Warhol, New York 1988

Edited by Angelika Muthesius Printed in Germany ISBN 3–8228–0565–3 GB

Andy Warhol 1928–1987 Commerce into Art Klaus Honnef Taschen

He had been trained as a commercial artist — he saw himself

as a “P URE ” artist— but he had in fact created a completely new type of artist, which irritated, shocked and



06 Andy Warhol First Pop Star of the Art World

20 The Road to Fame from Commercial Artist to Celebrated Pop Artist

44 A Technique Becomes a Trademark Silkscreen Printing as an Art Form

70 From Underground Film Maker to Affluent Collector

92 Conclusion

94 Chronology

98 Bibliography




When he appeared in public, he gave the impression of not being of this world. But he was the personification of the American Dream

There are even two versions (at least) of the date of

He was reserved with journalists and was clearly

life has been covered by as much writing (and gossip)

his death in circulation, but it seems certain that he

never comfortable being interviewed. During an

as has Andy Warhol’s. The pages written about his

died on February 22, 1987 as the result of gall bladder

interview for the German weekly illustrated

He was a legend in his own lifetime. Hardly anyone’s

life and work, if laid end to end, would reach half

surgery. His birthplace was Forest City, Pennsylvania

magazine Stern (October 8, 1981) a journalist

way round the world. Sometimes, when he appeared

and he was christened Andrew Warhola.

commented: “It is not fair to make Andy Warhol give this interview. He is suffering. He doesn’t want

in public, he gave the impression of not being of this

to open up.” Yet, no other artist of his time has left

world. Shy, friendly and usually smiling, part of him

It is difficult to find out the truth about the life of

always seemed to be somewhere else. But he was

Andy Warhol (the name he took after he moved

us with as many maxims as he did. As well as an

the personification of the American Dream—with

to New York in 1949). Contradictions seem to have

abundance of interviews and aphorisms he left us

a career which spanned washing dishes to becoming

been his life’s elixir, the veiling of biographical and

two autobiographies, although nobody can say

a millionaire (although, of course, he never actually

other personal facts the means he used to create a

for sure who actually wrote these books, Warhol

washed dishes). His was the archetypal rags to

mystery around himself. He had been trained as a

himself or one of his numerous ghost writers.

riches story. His date of birth is the subject of some

commercial artist—he saw himself as a “pure” artist—

controversy: different dates can be found in various

but he had in fact created a completely new type of

publications, but it does seem fairly certain that it

artist, which irritated, shocked and changed the world

occurred between 1928 and 1931. Andy Warhol

of art—although various aspects of the practice of his

himself claimed that his 1930 birth certificate had

art are firmly reminiscent of the practices of artists

been forged and June 6, 1928 is the date most

of the Renaissance and Baroque periods

frequently taken as his birthday.

“ Famous for

15 minutes.“


1 Roy Lichtenstein 1976 Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas 40 x 40 in 2 Liz Silkscreen on canvas 1965 42 x 42 in

3 Michael Jackson 1984 Silkscreen on canvas 30 x 26 in

Though he hardly ever missed out on any party

Andy Warhol was a dedicated and enthusiastic admirer

or public event within his reach, he loved to

of both film stars and the contemporary cult figures

be represented by a double. “Andy” was seen

of North American literature. He collected their

everywhere and in the land of unlimited opportunities

autographs and even wrote to Truman Capote, the

and vast distances the use of a double was hardly

pet of the New York culture scene, who, however, did

ever noticed. The truth did occasionally come to light,

not favor him with a reply. The superstars he depicted,

though. The first time was on an occasion when

however, were to replace the stars of the heroic phase

Warhol was celebrating his first commercial success

of American films, themselves to become threatened

as a film maker with The Chelsea Girls. Subsequently,

by megastars, overnight celebritiesaof the world of

having given several lectures at various American

the media. Warhol’s motto “Famous for 15 minutes”

colleges, he became bored and handed the job over

(thanks to the instant communications of our times)

to Allen Midgette, who passed himself off as Warhol.

has become reality for many.

The result, in both cases, was uproar! Warhol was 4 Marilyn 1964 Silkscreen on canvas 42 x 42 in

easy to impersonate, as he often hid behind dark glasses, under a white wig and had a very distinctive appearance with his big head and his pensive smile— even before he became fully established in New York, he had started dyeing his hair blond.





1 Andy Warhol 1978 Photograph by Christoper Makos




Andy Warhol was the embodiment of the new kind of star. Creator, producer and actor in one, he enriched the world by providing us with an idol from the world of art.



Andy Warhol was the embodiment of the new

The idol appears unreal, an apparition made from

Only the screen granted her the status of goddess.

kind of star. Creator, producer and actor in one,

light and shade. The cult of the ‘star’ is not really

What films did for the Hollywood stars—from Mary

he enriched the world by providing us with an

meant for a human being of flesh and blood—his

Pickford (the first star who truly deserved the name)

idol from the world of art. A good businessman,

physical presence merely affords proof that this

through Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Marlene

he marketed his quality of elusiveness as well as

apparition does indeed exist. No one saw through the

Dietrich, Mae West, Bette Davis, Clark Gable and

marketing himself in his role as head of his studio

mechanism of the ‘star’ cult better than Andy Warhol

Humphrey Bogart to James Stewart, Ingrid Bergman,

of 18 employees (“the boys and girls”). It has been

himself, as is illustrated by his public appearances.

Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe—the tabloid

said of Andy Warhol that “art gained beauty primarily

With the trick of being physically present and at the

newspapers did for Andy Warhol by fictionalizing

through money.” A friend and sponsor of his early

same time in another world, he seemed to be a

reality. He took advantage of their romanticizing

days, Henry Geldzahler, praises the artist’s fascinating

physical apparition. For Henry Geldzahler the main

(which in the Sixties was all the rage), spread and to

combination of business and art. Sociologist and film

reason for Andy Warhol’s fabulous success lies in his

a certain extent created by the triumphant advance

maker Edgar Morin observed that we project any

ability. According to Geldzahler, thanks to Warhol’s

of television. The borders between reality and

number of needs and desires that cannot be fulfilled

appearance as a “dumb blond,” it was not long

imagination were slowly being eroded. The television

in real life into the exalted, mythical being (of the

before the public began to identify him with the

documentary—seemingly reality but able to create

star); he thus defines the most important socio-

Pop movement. And, as he put it, there have indeed

a fictional result—demonstrated its power for the

psychological requirement in the creation of the

been very few artists—Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali,

first when the Kennedy–Nixon debates were fought

20th century cult of the film star, pop star, etc.

Jackson Pollock—in this century who have come to

out in front of the cameras. Even though the actual

be recognized by the man on the street in America.

impact of this historic media event on the outcome

Marilyn Monroe, Warhol’s favorite model, was also

of the American presidential elections is still disputed,

a different kind of “dumb blonde.” But in contrast

television has, ever since, played a ruling part in

to her portraitist she was always flesh and blood,

election campaigns all over the world. In the United

even though only a comparatively small number

States, in particular, a political candidate has to be

of people actually saw her in person.

‘telegenic’ to have any chance of success.

Cambell’s Soup Can I 1968 Acrylic and liquitex, silkscreen on canvas 36 x 24 in

1 1 Triple Elvis 1962 Silkscreen on canvas 82 x 42 in 2 Sixteen Jackies 1964 Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas 80 x 64 in

For all their differences these stars have one thing in common: They are the personification of the American success story.

Andy Warhol had chosen Marilyn Monroe as his

Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor were two other

model after her death; death had set the seal on

idols captured by Andy Warhol’s art in numerous

her supernatural existence. Apart from Humphrey

pictures and picture series, even if not to the same

Bogart he appeared to be the only film star whose

extent as Marilyn Monroe. For all their differences

posthumous fame exceeded by far her popularity in

these stars have one thing in common: they are

her own lifetime. Andy Warhol certainly contributed

the personification of the American success story.

his part to this. What actually drew his attention

Norma Jean Baker, alias Marilyn Monroe, went

to the screen sex bomb (at that time the throne

from mistreated child—if one wants to believe the

of sex-goddess was still reserved for Rita Hayworth

legend—to celebrated sex symbol. Elvis Presley

and was only awarded to Marilyn Monroe long after

went from singing truck driver to become the

her death) is hard to determine. With hindsight, this

celebrated idol of a whole generation, and Elizabeth

decision illustrates Andy Warhol’s infallible ability to

Taylor, who started as a child film actress, one of

nose out trends. Surely, it was not just the actress’s

Hollywood’s most highly paid stars. They were all, too,

sex appeal which was the deciding factor. Was it

surrounded by a hint of tragedy—Marilyn Monroe

possibly the legend that had been woven around

tried, desperately and in vain, to rid herself of the

her? Film historian Enno Palatas wrote that Marilyn

stereotype image of the dumb blonde sex symbol;

Monroe had fashioned a legend about her youth

Elvis Presley frequently fell into fits of depression; and

to suit her tastes, claiming that her parents used to

Liz Taylor constantly struggled with health problems.

beat her with a leather strap, that she was raped by a “friend” of the family when she was six years old, and then was juggled back and forth by unloving stepparents; and although journalist Ezra Goodman was later able to disprove this story, it fitted so well with her image that people still liked to believe it.





1 Flowers 1964 Silkscreen on canvas 48 x 48 in

Andy Warhol wanted to be one of its High Priests. He himself determinedly created his own legend.

2 Do It Yourself (Seascape) 1962 Acrylic on canvas 54 x 72 in


It is not the least surprising that Andy Warhol

After his father’s death the Warhola family made

consequences of the Depression. The advance of the

identified, in part, with these stars. The cult of

a bare living on the edge of absolute poverty. During

Nazis through Europe and the crushing Japanese

success is the bond that unites the whole country of

school holidays Andrew sold fruit and helped out

attack on the American Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor

the United States of America. Andy Warhol wanted

as a window-dresser. A photograph taken in 1941

now forced the United States into a world war which

to be one of its High Priests. He himself determinedly

shows him as an introverted, slightly dreamy-looking

also demanded its victims among civilians.

created his own legend. He once spread a story that

pretty blond boy.

his father had been killed in a mine. In this context he even travelled to Pittsburgh, capital of the North American coal and steel region, near where he was

In the department store where he worked during his “ I had had three nervous breakdowns when I was a child, spaced a year apart. One when I was eight, one

summer holidays Warhol came into contact for the first time with the world which was later to become

born. A famous film documents this gloomy, dirty

at nine, and one at ten. The attacks always started on

his own specific world—the world of consumer

and violent region: Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter.

the first day of summer vacation. I don’t know what

advertising. As the son of European immigrants, with

this meant. I would spend all summer listening to the

a mother who never mastered the English language,

radio and lying in bed with my Charlie McCarthy doll

his early years were filled with his family’s stories—

steel industry was as inauthentic as Andy Warhol’s

and my un-cut-out cut-out paper dolls all over the

memories of the Old Country. Later on as a student

make-believe. Warhol’s father did indeed work in

spread and under the pillow. My father was away a

in America he was to wander through the Czech

The picture it created of the heart of the American

a mine, but in the coal mines of West Virginia, which

lot on business trips to the coal mines, so I never saw

“ghetto with the babushkas and overalls on the

gave him little time at home. Andy and his brothers

him very much. My mother would read to me in her

clotheslines.” These years were to give him a

grew up under the care of their mother. In 1942 his

thick Czechoslovakian accent as best she could and I

thorough understanding of the true nature of

father died, but after a long illness resulting from

would always say “Thanks, Mom,” after she finished

America. Here at the department store he was

drinking poisoned water. Warhol’s parents had

with Dick Tracy, even if I hadn’t understood a word.

surrounded by a glamorous world which was

originally emigrated from Czechoslovakia to the

She’d give me a Hershey Bar every time I finished a

completely out of his reach. “I had a job one summer

United States, his father in 1909—some say 1912—

page in my coloring book.” The stuff of which

in a department store looking through Vogues and

to evade military service in his homeland and his

legends are made. At that time the United States was

Harper’s Bazaars and European fashion magazines

mother following nine years later.

still in the process of recovering from the far-reaching

for a wonderful man named Mr. Vollmer.

1 Dollar Signs 1981 Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas 90 x 70 in

Philip Pearlstein remembers Andy Warhol’s interest in dance, and in artists such as the American dancer 1

José Limón, who was a kind of hero in the cultural scene back then.

2 Dollar Signs 1981 Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas 90 x 70 in

I got something like fifty cents an hour and my job was to look for ‘ideas.’ I don’t remember ever finding

Robert Lepper, who, according to Pearlstein, was “the only really good teacher” at the Carnegie

one or getting one. Mr. Vollmer was an idol to me

Institute recalls that Warhol was a skinny little boy

because he came from New York and that seemed so

whom he did not know particularly well; but he said

exciting. I wasn’t really thinking about ever going

Warhol did his work and some of it really was very

there myself, though.” When he finally moved

good. Though Pittsburgh was provincial it enjoyed

to New York it was Carmel Snow, legendary editor

a lively political and cultural scene. Philip Pearlstein

of Harper’s Bazaar, who helped him most when he

remembers Andy Warhol’s interest in dance, and

first arrived. While studying at the Carnegie Institute

in artists such as the American dancer José Limón,

of Technology in Pittsburgh, he met Philip Pearlstein,

who was a kind of hero in the cultural scene back

a well-known American painter of nudes, and spent

then; Pearlstein remembers that he and Warhol

a lot of time with him. His teachers do not remember

always went to his performances. He also remembers

anything remarkable about the young student.

Martha Graham’s troupe, and her special technique. He thought that in some ways Martha Graham was like Bertolt Brecht; they had heard of Brecht’s theory and technique of epic theatre and of the alienation effect. Warhol finished his studies with a B.A. in Fine Arts and soon after left Pittsburgh. His student years were over.






His move to New York marked the beginning of his

Though he observed this life from a distance, he

years of travelling. He shared a studio with Pearlstein

saw it with the eye of a stranger who notices things

at St. Mark’s Place on the Lower East Side, home

which the New Yorker takes for granted. He first

of many of the has-beens of the New York literature

started working as a professional graphic designer,

and music scenes (later, in the Eighties, to become

creating advertisements for fashion magazines like

the home of Graffiti). “When I was eighteen a friend

Glamour, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and this was

stuffed me into a Kroger’s shopping bag and took

when he changed his name to Andy Warhol. Several

me to New York,” was Warhol’s laconic comment

times he changed apartments and studios looking for

on this decisive step (according to Rainer Crone, he

friends. “I kept living with roommates thinking we

was 21 at the time). For Europeans, New York—the

could become good friends and share problems,

noisy metropolis with its electrifying atmosphere

but I’d always find out that they were just interested

and hectic lifestyle—is synonymous with America.

in another person sharing the rent.” His success

Although Eugene Rosenstock-Huesy, philosopher and

came relatively quickly and the “American Dream”

sociologist sneeringly remarks that few Americans

of unstoppable success came true faster than

would be interested if it were destroyed by an atom

he had expected.

bomb, for Warhol, son of immigrants from central Europe, New York became the apotheosis of all his desires: Fifth Avenue with its elegant shops, Madison Avenue, center of advertising and the El Dorado of the commercial arts, Park Avenue with its exclusive apartment blocks.


1 Moonwalk, II.404, 1987 Silkscreen on Paper 38 x 38 in 2 Moonwalk, II.405, 1987 Silkscreen on Paper 38 x 38 in 3 Truck, II.370 1985 Silkscreen on Paper 39 x 39in 4 Truck, II.369 1985 Silkscreen on Paper 39 x 39in


His success came relatively quickly and the “American Dream� of unstoppable success came true faster than he had expected.


Andy Warhol himself was the original source

Cow Wallpaper 1966 Silkscreen on paper 44 x 30 in

of the tales that surrounded him and for a very good reason: You can only become a star if everybody is talking about you.

The story of his rise to fame is dotted with anecdotes.

He even devoted one set to Margaret Truman, pianist

According to Rainer Crone, any traces of the real

Calvin Tomkins, art critic, tells us how Tina Fredricks,

daughter of President Truman. Sometimes part of

Warhol—the artist—are lost in a jungle of anecdotes

then art director of Glamour, contributed to them.

a leg could be seen in a shoe, as in the Mae West

and tales. Art critics consciously wove a mystery

She was thrilled by Andy’s drawings but could not

series, but in general these gold-plated profiles of

around his life and work and reduced his personality

find a commercial use for them. She told him that

footwear, intended to represent the stars themselves,

to useful proportions in order to play down the

the drawings were good, but that Glamour could

were unadorned by any unnecessary additions. The

uniqueness of his art. But Andy Warhol himself was

only use drawings of shoes at the moment. The next

Madison Avenue exhibition of 1956 displayed the

the original source of the tales that surrounded him—

day Warhol came back with 50 drawings of shoes

complete series of Golden Shoes—a rewarding field

and for a very good reason: you can only become a

in his brown paper bag. No one had ever drawn

for the attentions of any interested psychologist!

star if everybody is talking about you. Warhol never

One is taken aback by the fact that Warhol identifies

though he never said so—of being a star, according to Henry Geldzahler, his friend from early days.

lost sight of his actual goal: being an artist and—

shoes the way he did. Footwear was to be a recurring theme in his work

a product with a real person, a film star. His idea—

up to the early Sixties and many see this as the most

which never came to fruition—of selling film stars’

important era of his commercial phase. Tomkins

underwear washed at $5, unwashed more expensively,

praises the subtlety of these drawings which were

underlines his undisguised fetishism. But his gentle

done in the style of Toulouse-Lautrec and admires

approach through his drawings to the magic world

their empirical exactness. “Each buckle was in the

of the ‘stars’ is more remarkable even than the

right place.” His creative series, Golden Shoes,

underlying sexual tension of this series of pictures.

each devoted to film stars such as Mae West, Judy Garland, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Julie Andrews, James Dean and Elvis Presley, to authors such as Truman Capote and to the transvestite Christine Morgan, were received with approval.


Interviews, Statements, and Writings

Blinder man, Barry. “Modern Myths: An Interview with Andy Warhol.” Arts Magazine 56. (October 1981): 144–47.

Canaday, John. Interview in the New York Times, May 9, 1971, sec. 2, p. 23.

Castle, Frederick. “Occurrences: Cab Ride with Andy Warhol.” Artnews 66 (February 1968): 46–47, 52. Interview.

Glaser, Bruce. “Oldenburg, Lichtenstein, Warhol: A Discussion.” Artforum 4 (February 1966): 20–24. lnterview.

Goldberger, Clenn; Romer, Joanna; and Lavasscur, Jan. “We Talk to Warhol.” Mademoiselle 65 (August 1967): 325.

Kent, Lericia. “Andy Warhol: Movieman ‘It’s Hard to Be Your Own Script.’” Vogue 155 (March 1970): 167, 204. Interview.

Malanga, Gerard. “A Conversation with Andy Warhol.” Print Collectors Newsletter 1 (January–February 1971 ): 125–27.

Warhol, Andy and Hackett, Pat. POPism: The Warhol Sixties. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1980.

Weinraub, Bernard. “Andy Warhol’s Mother.” Esquire 66 (November 1966): 99, 101, 158. Interview.

Illustrated Books

Pomeroy, Ralph. “An Interview with Andy Warhol, June

Warhol, Andy. “My Favorite Superstar: Notes on My Epic

Warhol, Andy, and Ward. Ralph. A Is An Elephant.

1970.” Afterimage, Autumn 1970, pp. 34–39.

‘Chelsea Girls.’” Arts Magazine 41 (February

By Corkie and Andy. [New York, 1953 ].

1967): 26. Interview with Gerard Malanga. Warhol, Andy. The Gold Book. [New York, 1957].

Shapiro, David. “Polvere di diamanci.” In Pop Art: Evoluzione di una generazione, exhibition catalog. Milan:

Warhol, Andy. Andy Warhol’s Index Book. New York:

Electa Edirrice, 1980, pp. 131–48. Interview.

Random House, 1967. Contains “An Interview

Warhol, Andy. Twenty-Five Cats Name [sic] Sam and

with Andy Warhol.”

One Blue Pussy. [New York: Primed by Seymour

Warhol, Andy. A: A Novel. New York: Grove Press, 1969.

Berlin, c. 1954]. Warhol, Andy, and Malanga, Gerard. Screentests: A Diary.

Vijande, Rodrigo, and Nadaff, Alfred. “Una Interview

New York: Kulchur Press, 1967.

Warhol, Andy; McCarroll, Fred; and Suzuki, Mary. Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette. Garden City,

con Andy Warhol.” In Andy Warhol: Guns, Knives, Crosses, exhibition catalog. Madrid: Galeria Fernando Vi1ande,

Warhol, Andy. Intransit: The Andy Warhol–Gerard Malanga

1983, n.p.

Monster Issue. New York and Eugene, Ore.: Toad Press, 1968.

N.J : Doubleday and Company, 1952.

Warhol, Andy, and Frankfurt, Suzie. Wild Raspberries. Warhol, Andy. “Crazy Colden Slippers.” Life 42 (January 21,

Tuchman, Phyllis. “Pop! interviews with George Segal,

1957): 12–13.

Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosen Quist, and Robert Indiana.” Artnews 73 (May 1974): 24–29.

[New York, 1959].

Warhol, Andy. A la Recherche du Shoe Perdu. [New York, c. 1955].

Lyon, Ninette. “Robert Indiana, Andy Warhol. A Second Fame: Good Food.” Vogue 145 (March 1, 1965): 184–86.

Warhol, Andy. “Dirty Half Dozen … An Album.” Esquire 62


(May 1969): 144–47. Photographs by Andy Warhol.

Warhol, Andy. The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B

Warhol, Andy. Andy Warhol’s Exposures. New York:

and Back Again). New York: Harcourt,

Andy Warhol Books/Grosset and Dunlap, 1979.

Warhol, Andy, and Ward, Ralph. Love Is a Pink Cake. By Corkie and Andy. [New York, 1953].

Brace, Jovanovich, 1975.

[New York, c. 1 956]. Swenson, G. R. “What Is Pop Art?” Art news 62

Warhol, Andy. “An Andy Warhol Interview with Alex

(November 1963): 24–27, 60–63. Interview. Reprinted in

Kayser.” In Artists’ Portraits by Alex Kayser. New York: Harry

John Russell and Suzi Gablik. Pop Art Redefined. New York:

N. Abrams, 1981, n.p.

Frederick A. Praeger, 1969. Excerpted in Barbara Rose, ed., Readings in American Art: 1900–1975. New York: Praeger,

Warhol, Andy. Statements. In Stein, Jean with Plimpton, George. Edie: An American Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982.

Warhol, Andy. In the Bottom of My Garden.

1975, pp. 155–56.

Andy Warhol Book  

Intermediate typography