Monday, November 12, 2018

Jill Krementz covers Andy Warhol at the Whitney

Alfred Hitchcock and Andy Warhol photographed by Jill Krementz on April 26, 1974 at the Sherry Netherlands Hotel in New York City.

"A picture means I know where I was every minute. That's why I take pictures. It's a visual diary."
  — Andy Warhol
99 Gansevoort Street, New York City
NOVEMBER 12, 2018 - MARCH 31, 2019

Mary Might, Gerard Malanga, Isabel Dufresne (Ultra Violet), and Andy Warhol photographed by Jill Krementz in early 1967 at the film premiere of “The Sand Pebbles.”
Andy Warhol and Viva! photographed by Jill Krementz on September 10, 1975 at a party hosted by Leo Castelli celebrating the publication of “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again).”
Andy Warhol (1928–1987) is finally getting the due he deserves thanks to the Whitney and its chief curator Donna De Salvo.

Through his carefully cultivated persona and willingness to experiment with non-traditional art-making techniques, Warhol understood the growing power of images in contemporary life and helped to expand the role of the artist in society. This exhibition — the first Warhol retrospective organized in the U.S. since 1989 — reconsiders the work of one of the most inventive and influential American artists.

Building on a wealth of new materials, research and scholarship that has emerged since the artist's untimely death in 1987, the show of over 350 works of art reveals new complexities about the Warhol we think we know, and introduces a Warhol for the 21st century.

The show will travel to two other major American Art Museums, the San Francisco Museum of Art (May 18-2018-September 2, 2019) and the Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (October 20, 2019-January 26, 2020).

Visitors might view the Andy Warhol retrospective and wonder how Warhol found time to be such a constant presence on the New York social scene given the massive output of his work.

I, on the other hand, look at my archives bulging with photographs of Andy and his party friends and ask the opposite: How did he find time to do all the magnificent art he did?
Donna De Salvo, the Whitney's Senior Curator and Warhol's keeper of the flame.

That's Dorothy Lichtenstein peeking over Donna's shoulder.
As you enter into the Whitney’s lobby, there is a gallery of 84 silk screens, wall to wall, of those nearest and dearest to Andy.
Henry Geldzahler. Leo Castelli and “Baby” Jane Holzer.
Dennis Hopper and Irving Blum.

Mr. Blum will join Donna De Salvo, Bob Colacello, and Vincent Fremont to talk about Andy Warhol on Friday, November 16, 2018 at 6:30 PM. The program is called My Life. With Warhol.
Dennis Hopper and  Irving Blum, photographed by Jill Krementz in March, 1967 on La Cienega Boulevard.  They are transporting an Ed Ruscha painting to the Ferus/Pace Gallery owned  Mr. Blum.
On to the fifth floor:

Brillo Boxes, 1969 (version of 1964 original)
Silkscreen ink on wood, fifty parts

The Brillo Box sculptures originated as part of a large- scale gallery exhibition that also included sculptural representations of boxes for Del Monte peaches, Heinz ketchup, Campbell's tomato juice, Kellogg's corn flakes, and Mott's apple juice.

The creation of these sculptures followed the logic of the assembly line: Warhol custom- ordered wooden boxes in various dimensions from a local cabinet maker and once they had been delivered to his studio—known as the Factory—he worked with assistants to silkscreen the corresponding graphics onto them. The resulting sculptures draw a connection between commercial package design and contemporary Minimalist sculpture.
Caterine Millinaire and Andy Warhol photographed by Jill Krementz in February of 1964 at an exhibition of Pop Art held at The Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City.  Other  participating artists included Marisol, Rosalyn Drexler, Tom Wesselmann, Paul Thek and Robert Indiana. The opening honored James Beard.
Campbell's Soup Cans, 1962
Casein, acrylic, and graphite on linen, thirty-two panels

Warhol presented this series of paintings in his first solo exhibition at the Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, in 1962, where he chose to display them propped on a shallow ledge that snaked around the perimeter of the room. In doing so he invited the public to consider the paintings individually like they would products in a grocery store, capturing the theme and variation inherent in consumer culture.

Each can is unique -- there are 32 varieties of soup.

In 1956 Warhol exhibited a series of gold shoe collages in which he personified numerous individuals— fashionable socialites, magazine editors, and art directors, as well as actors, actresses and authors. Each fantasy shoe is inscribed with the (often misspelled) name of its subject.

Leo Lerman, a writer and editor at Condé Nast for more than fifty years, takes the form of a handsome pointed-toe boot while a mismatched pair of heels represents Christine Jorgensen, a transgender woman who advocated for transgender rights and was one of the first people to publicly acknowledge her transition and gender transformation surgery.

Stephen Soba, the Whitney's Director of Communication.

Rumor has it that visitors will flock to this pink-cow wall paper location for instagrams and selfies. Will tweets become Moos?

Mustard Race Riot,
Silkscreen ink, acrylic, and graphite on canvas, two panels, only one of which is shown here.

Mustard Race Riot serially reproduces Charles Moore's now-famous photographs of an African American civil rights demonstrator under assault by white police officers in Birmingham, Alabama. Warhol excerpted the images from the May 17, 1963, issue of Life magazine, where they were part of Moore's photo-essay exposing the vicious tactics sanctioned by the Birmingham police force against nonviolent activists pushing to end racial segregation.

Recontextualized, cropped, blurred, and repeated within Warhol's painting, these images not only portray a specific traumatic moment but also have come to represent America's long and continuing history of racial injustice and its catastrophic effects on Black lives.

Nine Jackies, 1964
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, nine panels

Lavender Disaster,
Acrylic, silkscreen ink, and graphite on linen

The 1953 newswire photograph used by Warhol to create Lavender Disaster depicts the electric chair at Sing Sing prison in Ossining, New York. It was taken just prior to the highly publicized executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted and sentenced to death for passing military secrets to the Soviet Union.

For Warhol the relevance of the image was likely tied to debates about the ethics of capital punishment that were in the news at the time the painting was made. Sing Sing carried out New York's last execution on August 15, 1963.
Self-Portrait, 1966
Acrylic, silkscreen ink and graphite on linen
Installation photograph: In the foreground: Mylar and Plexiglas Construction, 1970; On the walls: Sunset, 1972; and and Mao, 1972.

Warhol based his Mao paintings, drawings, lithographs, photocopy prints, and wallpaper on the same image: a painting by Zhang Zhenshi that served as the frontispiece for Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (known in the West as the "Little Red Book") and was then thought to be the most widely reproduced artwork in the world.

Warhol chose the image of Mao—then the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party—after reading news coverage of President Richard Nixon's trip to the People's Republic of China in February 1972, an unprecedented act of Cold War diplomacy that marked the first visit by a sitting American president to the nation, which at the time was considered an enemy of the state.
These eight works are part of a series of 632 unique prints depicting sunsets, each featuring different color combinations generated through a complex system of variations in ink applied in a fixed number of screen applications.

The series was commissioned by the architect Philip Johnson, who asked Warhol to create an original work for each room of his Marquette Hotel in Minneapolis. Warhol's choice of subject matter likely was inspired by his experience making Sunset, a 33-minute image of the sun setting in real time that he shot in 1967 for John and Dominique de Menil, art collectors who had commissioned a work of spiritual significance some years earlier. Warhol left the movie unfinished, later recalling, "I filmed so many sunsets for that project, but I never got one that satisfied me."
Interview Magazine, originally called "Inter/VIEW" was founded in 1969 by Warhol and Gerard Malanga and featured cult favorite celebrities.

According to Malanga, Andy had just been denied free passes to the New York Film Festival so the magazine started out as a film journal, featuring nude avant-garde film stars on the cover of its first issue.

Recorded interviews became the magazine's staple for the next 48 years.

Warhol himself was interviewed in 1977 by editor Glenn O'Brien.
Warhol based his Mao paintings, drawings, lithographs, photocopy prints, and wallpaper on the same image: a painting by Zhang Zhenshi that served as the frontispiece for Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (known in the West as the "Little Red Book") and was then thought to be the most widely reproduced artwork in the world.

Michael Kostiuk (b. 1944)

This is one of several photographs of Andy Warhol vacuuming the carpet for an installation piece at Finch College Museum of Art, c. 1972

These photographs document Warhol's contribution to the 1972 group exhibition Art in Process V, curated by Elayne H. Varian, at the Finch College Museum of Art on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The museum (now defunct) asked all participating artists to produce new work onsite, which would be shown along with photographic documentation of its creation. Warhol staged a performance in which he unboxed and assembled a brand-new Eureka canister vacuum, cleaned the gallery's rug, and then removed and signed the vacuum's bag, which was included in the exhibition.
Truman’s Hand, 1950s
Ink on paper
Truman Capote, c.1952

These drawings express Warhol’s admiration for and fascination with Truman Capote, a writer whom he drew frequently.

According to Warhol, when he first arrived in New York, he wrote fan letters to Capote and called him on the phone every day—until the author's mother demanded that he stop. In 1948 Capote had published his best-selling debut novel Other Voices, Other Rooms, a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story that, while lauded for its prose, was derided by some critics for its frank depiction of homosexuality. In one drawing, Warhol isolates the hand from the novel's jacket photo of the author, which captured the young Capote reclining on a couch, provocatively eyeing the camera (and the photographer, Harold Halma).
"Coca-Cola (2), 1961
Casein and wax crayon on linen.
Close Cover Before Striking (Coca-Cola)," 1962
Acrylic, graphite, transfer type, and sandpaper on linen.

129 Die in Jet, 1962
Photostat (New York Mirror —Vol. 37 no 296, Monday June 4, 1962)
Acrylic and graphite on linen

Warhol painted this work entirely by hand, but he worked to reproduce the material particularities of the printing process by carefully mimicking the Benday pattern around the Statue of Liberty logo and using a sponge-blotting technique to retain the gritty look of the halftone wire service photograph.

The crash of the Air France airliner reproduced in 129 Die in Jet was, at the time, the deadliest single-aircraft incident in history; of the 130 people who died, more than a hundred were art patrons from Atlanta on a cultural tour of Europe. Warhol later identified this work as the first of his Death and Disaster series.
Superman, 1961
Casein and wax crayon on canvas

Warhol's depiction of Superman is based on a drawing by Kurt Schaffenberger from the comic Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane (April 1961). Warhol's decision to use Superman as a subject may offer a biting commentary on the heroic machismo associated with Abstract Expressionist "action" painting, or a queer reading of the Man of Steel, or both.

Warhol displayed Superman and four other paintings shortly after they were made in a window display at the Bonwit Teller department store (above), where he and many other artists produced window displays.

Throughout the exhibit there are videos displayed on pillars and on suspended overhead screens.
Silver Elizabeth, 1963 and Silver Marlon, 1963
Triple Elvis [Ferus Type], 1963
Acrylic, spray paint, and silkscreen ink on line

Elvis Presley appears here in a series of silkscreens created using a promotional still from the 1960 Western Flaming Star. Warhol was unable to travel to Los Angeles for his 1963 exhibition at the Ferus Gallery, so he instead sent sets of presized stretchers and an uncut roll of painted canvas to the gallery. The artist instructed Ferus director Irving Blum to prepare the works and hang them edge to edge around the perimeter of the gallery
Marilyn Diptych, 1962
Acrylic, silkscreen ink, and graphite on linen, two panels

This painting, along with all of Warhol's paintings and prints of Marilyn Monroe, is based on a black-and- white promotional still for the 1953 hit film Niagara taken by Gene Kornman, tightly cropped to her face.

The variations among the fifty screened images of the starlet's disembodied face—half vividly colored, half shadowy black-and-white—suggest a dynamic narrative of presence and absence, life and death.

Marilyn Diptych was among Warhol's first paintings created using the photo silkscreen technique. A commercial means of mechanical reproduction, the process involves transferring a photograph to a screen coated with light-sensitive material that hardens and blocks ink from passing through. Though it was possible to copy images with mechanical precision, Warhol subverted the process, allowing accidental distortions caused by clogs in the screen or images that were out of register.
Ethel Scull 36 Times, 1963
Silkscreen ink, acrylic, and acrylic on linen, thirty-six panels. Ethel Scull 36 Times, 1963
Silkscreen ink and acrylic on linen, thirty-six panels.

Warhol began this portrait of art collector Ethel Scull— his first major painting commission—by taking her to a photo booth. Scull, who expected to be professionally photographed in a studio, was initially confused when Warhol brought her to "one of those places on 42nd Street where you put a quarter in a machine and take three pictures." As the finished portrait makes clear, however, Scull's photo session captured a series of animated, even flirtatious, poses.
Ethel Scull photographed by Jill Krementz on January 6, 1965 at the Scull’s Park Avenue Apartment, a treasure trove of Pop Art.
Erin Law, 23, who has recently moved from Oregon to Brooklyn, is a Communications Assistant at the Whitney. A former employee at "Aperture," she was my informed and helpful guide.

On the wall: Self-Portrait, 1963–64 (Silkscreen ink and acrylic on canvas, four panels); Self-Portrait, 1964; Self Portrait (two panels); 1964

Shortly after completing his serial portrait of Ethel Scull, Warhol used the same photo-booth technique to make his first painted self-portrait. The work showcases the artist's ability to manipulate his persona as a medium unto itself.

As he admitted a few years later, "I'd prefer to remain a mystery, I never like to give my background and, anyway, I make it all up different every time I'm asked."
Displayed in one of the many vitrines is various Nico ephemera including  the album cover by Andy for  The Velvet Underground and Nico, 1967 LP record.
Andy Warhol and Nico photographed on May 31, 1967 by Jill Krementz at  The Bleecker Street Cinema celebrating the opening of “Vali,”a documentary film by Sheldon and Diane Rochelin.
Paramount, 1984–85 Acrylic on canvas, is among the hundreds of collaborative works Warhol made with Jean-Michel Basquiat.

According to Basquiat, Warhol would begin the paintings with "something very concrete, like a newspaper headline or product logo, and then I would sort of deface it."

Depending on the work, this process could continue for two or three rounds, until a tenuous balance was reached between Warhol's hand-painted images and Basquiat's abstract gestures, text, numbers, and pictographs.
Exhibition Poster (Warhol Basquiat paintings/Tony Shafrazi, Bruno Bischofberger, New York, September 14-October 19, 1985), 1095; Offset lithograph

Ladies and Gentlemen (Wilhelmina Ross),
1975 Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen
Top left: Ladies and Gentlemen (Alphanso Panell), 1975; Acrylic and silkscreen ink on line.
Top Right: Ladies and Gentlemen (Ivette and Lurdes), 1975; Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen. Bottom Left: Ladies and Gentlemen (Helen/Harry Morales), 1975; Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen.
Bottom Right: Ladies and Gentlemen (Marsha P. Johnson), 1975; Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen.
Andy Warhol, Self Portrait, 1966
Silkscreened ink and acrylic on canvas
An installation view of the final gallery on the 8th floor.

On display are various silkscreens: Two Hammer and Sickles (1976), Cross (1981-82), and Gun (1981-82).

Photographer Rick Smolen with his father-in-law, the legendary Elliott Erwitt.
90-year-old Mr. Erwitt has two books coming out, one on Cuba and another about Pittsburgh, Andy Warhol’s home town.
Camouflage Last Supper, 1986
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas

Among his final paintings, Camouflage Last Supper is perhaps one of the most personal works of Warhol's career.

The painting combines an enlarged photograph of a print of Leonardo's mural with a standard camouflage pattern from a swatch of fabric. The mediated imagery creates tensions—between surface and depth, original and copy, abstraction and figuration. Made in the early years of the ongoing AIDS crisis, the painting offers a meditation on militancy, spiritual sacrifice, and mourning, perhaps expressing the complexities of Warhol's experience as both a gay man and a Byzantine Catholic, whose continued religious practice was not fully revealed until after his death in 1987.
Detail from Camouflage Last Supper.

Andy Warhol was a deeply religious mass-attending Catholic. He was buried in Pittsburgh along with his prayer book used by him on a daily basis. One can only wonder what he would think of the besieged state of his beloved church in today's world.

It's sad that Andy's gone but one can only be grateful for this exhilarating exhibition. In the words of Holland Cotter, The New York Times's co-chief art critic:

"I never thought I'd use the word exalted for Warhol, or transcendent, or sublime. And he probably never thought to use them either. But that's what's here."
Andy Warhol photographed by Jill Krementz on September 9, 1975 at Richard Avedon's Marlborough Gallery Opening.

"People sometimes say that the way things happen in the movies is unreal, but actually, it's the way things happen to you in life that's unreal. The movies make emotions look strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it's like you're watching television — you don't feel anything."
  — Andy Warhol

Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved. Contact Jill Krementz here.