Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Andy Warhol Diaries

Today marks 30 years since the death of the American pop artist Andy Warhol. A huge celebrity in his own lifetime, his fame seems to have continued unabated, several of his paintings having sold in the 21st century for around the $100m mark. Not a prolific writer, Warhol did produce a few best-selling books, although most of them were in collaboration with his friend Pat Hackett. Indeed, The Andy Warhol Diaries is a compilation of the typed-up daily conversations she had with Warhol over a ten year period.

Andrew Warhola was born Pittsburgh in 1928, the youngest child of working class immigrants from a village in the Carpathian Mountains(in what is now part of the Slovak Republic). He was sickly youth, which left him with hypochondriac tendencies. On leaving school, he studied commercial art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. On finishing, in 1949, he moved to New York City, changed his name to Warhol, and worked as a commercial artist for magazines as well as at designing advertising and window displays. He gained some attention for his whimsical ink drawings of shoe advertisements, and he was one of the first to adopt the silk screen print-making process for artworks.

By the late 1950s, he was exhibiting in New York galleries, but 1962 saw his first solo exhibition of pop art at the Stable Gallery. It included some now very famous works, the Marilyn Diptych, 100 Soup Cans, 100 Coke Bottles, and 100 Dollar Bills. The same year saw Warhol open a New York studio, referred to as the Silver Factory, and later simple as The Factory, employing various assistants, and it also saw his first exhibition on the West Coast, in Los Angeles. Around this time, Warhol began experimenting with film, and, in 1963, he produced Sleep, an ‘anti-film’ with over five hours footage of his close friend, John Giorno, sleeping. Hundreds of art films were to follow over the next ten years. In 1967, he produced his first commercial book, Andy Warhol’s Index, and a couple of years later, with John Wilcock, he launched the magazine Interview.

When a radical feminist and hanger-on, Valerie Solanas, tried to murder Warhol in 1968, it marked the end of a period which had seen The Factory harbour an unconventional, alternative scene. Thereafter, Warhol himself sought more upmarket society - often finding himself in the company of other celebrities. His work in the 1970s shifted towards earning high fees for society portraits, leading some critics to argue he was prostituting his talent, and that his art was in decline. However, in 1973, Warhol did also produce his famous Mao series as a comment on President Richard Nixon’s visit to China. In 1979, Warhol was involved with the founding of the New York Academy of Art. In the 1980s, he returned to painting and collaborated with younger artists earning him renewed critical attention. He died on 22 February 1987 after suffering post-surgery complications - see a New York Times story on the health problems that led up to his death.

The Art Story website sums up Warhol’s legacy as follows: ‘[He] was one of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century, creating some of the most recognizable images ever produced. Challenging the idealist visions and personal emotions conveyed by abstraction, Warhol embraced popular culture and commercial processes to produce work that appealed to the general public. He was one of the founding fathers of the Pop art movement, expanding the ideas of Duchamp by challenging the very definition of art. His artistic risks and constant experimentation with subjects and media made him a pioneer in almost all forms of visual art. His unconventional sense of style and his celebrity entourage helped him reach the mega-star status to which he aspired.’ More detailed information is also readily available from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Wikipedia, The Carpathian Connection, The New Yorker, or The New York Review of Books.

Warhol was not a diarist, but, from 1976 until the year of his death, he chatted, usually every weekday morning over the telephone, to his friend Pat Hackett who would then ‘sit at the typewriter and get it all down on paper’. Prior to 1976, Hackett had kept a ‘sketchy Factory log’ listing business visitors, key events, expenses and so on, often by talking to different individuals, and she was also collaborating with Warhol on his memoir: Popism - The Warhol Sixties. However, when Hackett wanted to quit The Factory, Warhol asked if she would continue to keep the log.

Hackett explains: ‘I told him that I didn’t want to have to continue calling everyone at the office every day to find out what had happened the day before - that if I were going to do that I might as well still be working there. So we agreed that from then on, the daily accounts would come from Andy himself. At this point the log became Andy’s own personal narrative. In the fall of 1976 Andy and I established a weekday morning routine of talking to each other on the phone. Ostensibly still for the purpose of getting down on record everything he had done and every place he had gone the day and night before and logging the cash business expenses he had incurred in the process, this account of daily activity came to have the larger function of letting Andy examine life. In a word, it was a diary.’

Two years after his death, in 1989, Warner Books published The Andy Warhol Diaries as edited by Pat Hackett. In her introduction (from which the above quotes also come) Hackett explains that she distilled the original length of the diaries, some 20,000 pages, down into one volume with what ‘I feel is the best material and the most representative of Andy’. It was republished as a Penguin Classic in 2010. A Guardian review of the latter starts: ‘The 90s bestseller that no one admitted having read, Andy Warhol’s diaries have long been the definition of a guilty pleasure, famed for their celebrity anecdotes, their triviality, their lack of engagement with world events. From 1976 to 1987, Andy tells us of parties attended, champagne drunk, cabs taken - and dollars spent. He hangs out with “everybody”: Bianca Jagger (“God, she’s dumb”), Jackie O (“thinks she’s so grand she doesn't even owe it to the public to have another great marriage to somebody big”), Yoko (“We dialed F-U-C-K-Y-O-U and L-O-V-E-Y-O-U to see what happened, we had so much fun”) and “Princess Marina of I guess Greece”.’

More recently, in 2014, it was republished in the US, by Twelve (see Amazon), on the 25th anniversary of the original edition. An article on the Christie’s website about the latest reissue draws on a rare recent interview with Hackett. ‘The diaries,’ she says, ‘were cathartic for Warhol. Towards the end of his life, she asked him, “Have you ever thought about talking to a psychiatrist?” He said, “I don’t need one. I have you.” And Hackett recalls: ‘Everybody was reading [the diaries] like mad largely because we made a calculated decision not [to] publish an index, [. . .] A lot of people at the time were extremely upset. But [Studio 54 co-owner] Steve Rubell did something great. He went on TV and said, “We’re all going crazy because of what Andy said about us in the Diaries but nobody can do anything because it’s all true!” ’ Here are several extracts from the Penguin Classics edition.

19 December 1979
‘The ABC 20/20 camera crew was coming to the office to film. I worked until 7:30. Then at home I glued myself together. Bob called and said he was exhausted but he really wanted to go to the Alice Mason dinner, so he picked me up and we walked to 72nd Street and Lexington. I was next to Norris Church Mailer. I told her we were still interested in doing something with her for Interview but she said she’d put on weight and that she really liked eating better than staying thin for modeling. Then we got a cab to El Morocco, Norris and Norman and Bob and me (cab $5). It was a party for Margaux Hemingway’s engagement. I ran into Jamie Blandford there and had a fight with him, I don’t know why, I just always do, I hope I didn’t (laughs) offend him. And Mimi Trujillo was there. She was married to the son of that dictator and she’s a fashion designer. Victor sees her stuff then tells Halston about it - I mean, she does stuff like Halston, but she does it sort of first.

Millie and Bill Kaiserman were there. I introduced Norris to them, but I think I did it in a strange way, I guess I said, “This is Norris Church, she wants free clothes.” But they should have good-looking people walking around in their clothes for free. There were lots of funny young people, El Morocco’s back on its way again.’

11 February 1980, Zurich
‘Slept late and then Thomas Ammann woke me up to do a portrait. A beautiful wife with a fat husband. I said she didn’t need makeup. She was easy to do because she was a raving beauty. Her husband tells her she’s ugly - Thomas says that’s how Swiss people treat their wives because they never want them to get too secure. We gave them a book and an Interview and we sent out the film. It’s so hard to find anything but SX-70 film here, they’re phasing the other out. We bought English papers which I paid for ($5).

We had lunch downstairs in the restaurant with Loulou de la Falaise Klossowski and her husband Thadée and Thomas. We signed for it. The food was good. The place was so beautiful with a view of the lake and the mountains. We were the only people there and the sun was beating through the window on our backs. It’d been hailing in the morning. The weather has been so strange. Loulou told us that YSL really was such a genius that he just can’t take it, he has to take a million pills and the whole office gets so depressed when he’s depressed except for her. She said she acts happy no matter what. That’s why she gets sick, because she’s always trying to act happy and it’s really a lot of stress on her liver. She hasn’t had a drink in a year and a quarter but she doesn’t think cocaine is bad. I do, though. We talked about her stepfather, John McKendry. She said he had so many boyfriends. His idea of marrying Maxime was fantasizing that her son Alexis was going to live at home with them and that he could have an affair with him. But the son immediately got married and moved to Wales. Then he envisioned Loulou being there bringing home pretty boys every minute that he could fuck. And actually he did steal her boys.

Loulou said John McKendry was actually killing himself slowly because he’d always fantasized how great and romantic and wonderful and literary the aristocracy must be. Then when he met them, and married a countess - her mother - and got to meet Jackie O. and people like that every day through his job at the Met, he realized they were just normal dumb people like everybody else. There was nothing left for him to live for. Of course I think that Maxime just drove him crazy. I couldn’t say that to Loulou, though. Then we took a cab downtown ($10.50).’

19 February 1980
‘I got up before 9:00 to watch the Today Show and try to figure out why Gene Shalit hasn’t used the thing he did on me. He’ll use it after I die, he’ll say, “I spoke with Andy Warhol in 1980 and here is that clip.” I must be a really terrible guest. I mean, I must be too weird for TV because it’s always the same thing - they never know what to do with it. Well, the 20/20 thing that Karen Lerner shot during the Exposures tour is supposed to be on next week. The twenty-eighth.

We had office pizza lunch ($5).

Oh, and this guy from New York called about the first part of Popism that they’re running on the cover. Wouldn’t it be great if the book was a big hit and we didn’t have to work to promote it?

Ron Feldman came down and we looked at the Ten Jews. It’s really such a good idea to do that, they’re going to sell. And all the Germans want portraits. Maybe because we have a good person selling there, Hans Mayer. How come we don’t get many American portraits?

And I forgot to say that when I was walking along University Place a kid stuck his head out of a car window and said, “Aren’t boys cuter in cars?” ’

1 April 1980
‘Up at 10:00, interview with Expresso again. Lucio picked us up and took us to the gallery because we had a press conference with 400 people. Joseph Beuys loves the press now because he’s running for president of Germany under the Free Sky Party and with me he can get more coverage - no, it’s the Green Party, that’s it. Then São Schlumberger arrived and we invited her to lunch at this waterfront place. Then we were picked up for the opening and there were at least 3,000 or 4,000 people there, you couldn’t get in, it was horrible, and finally we slipped away, they were giving us a party at a place called something like City Hall, a drag nightclub. Finally after three hours of waiting, this drag queen with hair on his chest came in and I was talking so she told me to shut up, she did a couple of numbers and then all of a sudden pushed me aside and stormed out and we didn’t understand what had happened, but somebody said she was too emotional because she was singing for me, she gets that way. But it was too boring. Fred got insulted because the TV lights were shining on us too long, and told Lucio off, that it was the most ridiculous evening, and that Lucio had wasted our time because that kind of evening wouldn’t sell pictures, and that he was just using us to get into show business. We didn’t get into bed till about 4:00.’

2 December 1980
‘Richard Weisman called and invited me to the party for the famous Hollywood photographer George Hurrell at Doubles. Got there and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. was coming out, and I asked him why he was leaving and he said because he’d stood in front of his photograph and had his picture taken by the press so then it was time to leave.

The big stars there were Lillian Gish, Maureen Stapleton. Tammy Grimes. I met Mr. Hurrell and he’s really strong and straight and Paul Morrissey had said that he was about to pop off any minute, but there he was and he knew all about me and he raved and he was sweet and I asked him if I could take a picture and he said sure.

Maureen O’Sullivan was next to me and she was saying. “Oh, I’ve just been throwing out so many Hurrells and Clarence Bulls, we’ve been moving.” I asked her what it was like to get so close to Johnny Weissmuller’s body and she said it was okay but that she only was interested in intellectuals, my dear. I said, ‘So is Mia really going to marry Woody Allen?’ And she said that she really didn’t know, and then I told her that I was only kidding, that I didn’t care. And I met Teresa Wnght and she looked good.’

24 December 1980
Cabbed up to Jerry and Mick’s apartment for Chnstmas lunch. Jerry’s pregnant sister Cyndy just married Robin Lehman, and so everybody was happy. Jerry’s mother was there. Jerry had an apron on that when you unzippered it a big cock came out, so I was taking funny pictures of that, her cooking a turkey with a cock in her hand.

Earl McGrath was there, and Ahmet Ertegun stopped by for a second. The food was ready at 5:00 but it was supposed to have been ready at 2:00. Everything was great, though, it was the best turkey and everything was fresh, the peas and everything, so I porked it up.

The limo came at 6:30 to take us out to the Guests’. We picked up Barbara Allen who was wearing a green taffeta YSL and then we went to the ‘hem of Harlem’ - that’s what Jerry Zipkin calls his neighborhood - and picked up Jerry and he had Nelson Seabra with him. It was a sit down dinner and the turkey was terrible. It was like canned stuff, and the cranberry sauce was canned and there were eighteen different desserts but none of them were good. I was next to ‘Suzy’ and Bob was next to Liz Smith and Iris Love, and Iris had a kilt on and let me feel if she was wearing underpants. Cornelia looked beautiful.

Then I had to get back to Halston’s in town and it had suddenly dropped from forty degrees to minus fifteen. Halston gave me a green beaded dress to hang in my closet. It’s like a $5,000 dress. It’s his art. But it’s not really my favorite green although it’s a nice green. I would rather have had a red one.

I felt another cold coming on and I wanted to go home to bed, but since the house was empty I didn’t. I gave Halston a chocolate box of art candy that I made, not too great, and a Diamond painting, and I gave Victor a Shoe one. I got home about 1:30 and opened my packages. Reinhold gave me a little TV set, a 2” x 2” Sony Trinitron.’

6 February 1983
‘Went to church. Worked some more on drawings. Went to bed early. The phone didn’t ring all day.’

11 February 1983
‘The snow hadn’t started at the beginning of the day and I just didn’t believe it would, the weather reports are always wrong. But by 12:30 it’d started (cabs $5, $3, phone$.50).

Interview was having a screening of The Lords of Discipline at Paramount and I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to get around so I hired a limousine. And then I went into Interview and invited some of the kids to ride up with me, and then Fred screamed at me that 1 had destroyed the office protocol. I keep forgetting that at Interview they have all these levels of who gets invited to what with who, based on how important your title is. Like a regular office. And I didn’t invite Robert Hayes to ride up with me because he was with his sister and his boyfriend Cisco, and Cisco has AIDS so I didn’t want to be that close to him.

People in the streets were laughing and throwing snow.

The movie was great, I enjoyed it so much, it’s so decadent. There are no girls in it, and all these boys fighting. Mitchell Lichtenstein looks great, just like his father, Roy, twenty years ago, and I do think David Keith is going to be the new John Wayne.’

17 February 1987 [the last entry]
‘In the morning I was preparing myself for my appearance in the fashion show Benjamin coordinated at the Tunnel. They’d sent the clothes over and I look like Liberace in them. Should I just go all the way and be the new Liberace? Snakeskin and rabbit fur. Julian Schnabel (laughs) would be so impressed with these clothes he would start wearing them

Oh, and Brigid is at the English fat farm and she’s going to be fired when she gets back. I’ll give her a pink slip. l’ll give her dogs pink slips - Fame and Fortune will be fired!

Vincent was going to tape the fashion show and he called to say a car would pick me up at the office at 2:00. Ken came and we went downtown (cab $6). Worked hard at the office.

Then went over to the Tunnel and they gave us the best dressing room, but still it was absolutely freezing. I had all my makeup with me. Miles Davis was there and he has such delicate fingers. They’re the same length as mine but half the width. I’d gone with Jean Michel last year to see his show at the Beacon, and I’d met him in the sixties at that store on Christopher Street, Hernando’s, where we used to go get leather pants. I reminded him that I’d met him there and he said he remembered. Miles is a clotheshorse. And we made a deal that we’d trade ten minutes of him playing music for me, for me doing his portrait. He gave me his address and a drawing - he draws while he gets his hair done. His hairdresser does the hair weaving, the extensions.

They did a $5,000 custom outfit for Miles with gold musical notes on it and everything, and they didn’t do a thing for me, they were so mean. They could’ve made me a gold palette or something. So 1 looked like the poor stepchild, and in the end they even (laughs) told me I walked too slow.

And the clothes in the show really stank. Alligator, fur, and lace. And I really worked my ass off. The Japanese crew was more interested in me than in Miles. They were doing the show again at 10:00 but I didn’t have to do the second one, I was only in the one that was for the press. And then afterwards Vincent had a taxi come.

When I got home I called Fred and explained that I was just too exhausted to go to the Fendi dinner, so when he called them to say I wouldn’t be coming with him and that he’d bring a girl instead, they said don’t bother, that they didn’t want him without me.

Got into bed and Wilfredo called and then Sam called and then I fell asleep. But I woke up at 6:30 and I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I took some Valium and a Seconal and two aspirin, and I was sleeping so heavily that I didn’t wake up when PH called at nine o’clock. And when I didn’t answer she got scared because that had never happened before, so she called on the other line and Aurora answered in the kitchen, and PH made her come up to my bedroom to shake me but I wish she’d just let me sleep.’

The Diary Junction

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