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Warhol's Horde

By Terry Fleming • March 22, 2022

With the debut of Ryan Murphy's The Andy Warhol Diaries on Netflix, Andy Warhol is in the spotlight again. But while this docuseries focuses on Warhol's romantic and artistic life (with excerpts taken from his actual diary, which has a 25th anniversary edition coming out in May), we wanted to highlight some of the powerful personalities who moved in and out of Warhol's life, lending their own magnetism to his mystique.

Warhol by Blake Gopnik
This relatively new biography was a Pen America Literary Award finalist and gives an in-depth view of Warhol's life and work.

Social critic and scholar Camille Paglia said that Andy Warhol's emergence on the scene in the sixties signaled the death of Avant Garde art. What killed it? Pop art! With artists like Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Peter Max, the Pop art sensibility kicked Avant Garde art to the curb, and this book gives you a fun, gossipy introduction to the form.

The Philosophy of Andy Warhol
When he first arrived on the scene, Warhol was very enigmatic. Coy in interviews, monotone on talk shows, no one knew what to make of him. This book is an answer to that, which performs the miraculous feat of revealing a lot about him while still preserving his mystery.

Factory Girls

Another aspect of Warhol's mysterious reputation was the fact that so many of his "superstar" Factory actresses met with bitter ends. "Youthquaker" Edie Sedgwick, his muse and first real superstar during the Factory years, died of an overdose at 28 (also, a movie was made of her life). Andrea Feldman, another of his superstars from his films who starred in Heat, committed suicide at the age of 24. Yet another Superstar, Candy Darling, died of lymphoma at the age of 29 (on her deathbed, she wrote the following: "Unfortunately before my death I had no desire left for life ... I am just so bored by everything. You might say bored to death. Did you know I couldn't last. I always knew it. I wish I could meet you all again."). And Warhol himself almost died at the hand of Valerie Solanas, the author of the SCUM manifesto (Society for Cutting Up Men), when she shot him.

The Velvet Underground

The unofficial Factory band was The Velvet Underground, made up most notably of Lou Reed, John Cale, and Nico—a statuesque German blonde that Warhol said "sounded like an IBM computer." Naturally, she was the lead singer.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

In the docuseries, a long stretch is devoted to the relationship Warhol had with artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Basquiat met Warhol when he was a graffiti artist, but Warhol quickly recognized his talent and started collaborating with him. Check out Widow Basquiat: A Love Story to learn about his journey to becoming an art legend.

The Films of Andy Warhol

Filmmaker, theatrical powerhouse, and "Filth Elder" John Waters appears in the docuseries, giving his perspective on Warhol's cultural daring and innovations with his films (check out Waters' biography Shock Value for another look at underground cinema of the era).

Name Dropping

Warhol never shied away from dropping names, but when you read his diary, you realize that if anyone should drop names, it would be him. In no particular order here are some of the icons—famous or infamous (or both)—he mentions having met in the book:

John Lennon, Fran Lebowitz, Rob Lowe, Steve Rubell of Studio 54, Salvador Dali, Diana Vreeland, Diane Von Furstenberg, Debbie Harry, Jim Morrison, Sylvester Stallone, Farrah Fawcett, Jackie O, Nancy Reagan, Halston, Liza Minnelli, Jack Nicholson, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Diana Ross, Timothy Leary, G. Gordon Liddy, Karl Lagerfeld, Clare Boothe Luce, Hope Lange, Keith Haring, Tennessee Williams, Mick Jagger, Martin Scorsese, Sue Mengers, Catherine Oxenberg, Raquel Welch, Sonny Bono... Well, just the celebrities he painted portraits of could fill a rolodex.

Read more by Terry Fleming

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