Yup. After antics at Studio 54 he took himself to Catholic Church. Every. Single. Week.
After his father passed when Andy was 14, his older brother (only 17) became the “man of the house.” The two brothers had a solid relationship, talking every Sunday throughout adulthood.
And although he loved his family dearly and saw them often, he skipped the holidays with them (after his parents passed) in order to work at homeless shelters. His family didn’t even know this until he died. And I (unkindly) assumed that he died from debauchery. Nope, complications with gallbladder surgery.
He also refused to give homeless people cash for fear that they would spend it on anything BUT food. So instead, he established credit at cafes around NYC and sent folks there, saying to put it on Andy’s tab.
He Was so Much More Human than I Gave Him Credit For
Isn’t that an awful thing to say, to realize? In my ignorance and imagination his shock of white-blonde hair was all about partying. And that may have been significant. But so were his sentimentality, humor, and intelligence.
The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh PA does an amazing job of introducing us to Andy Warhol; not just his art, but his process, his obsessions, his principles. The most compelling way this is conveyed is through a seemingly regular talk given by his nephew. The familial love is more potent than the awe for having a famous uncle. And that in itself is telling.
The Draw of Celebrity
At 11 years old, Andy started writing celebrities to ask for their autograph. And he often got a response. The times were different.
I don’t know what facets of celebrity fascinated him, but once he had the opportunity to meet more famous people, he was quick to say that, “I don’t care much about beauties. What I really like are talkers.” THIS is one of the moments when I became enamored with the man behind the myth. For all his love of celebrity, which can be vapid and blank, he wanted depth more. He expected it from people. What pressure and what a gift he simultaneously gave to his guests.
Do you think that Warhol influenced America’s fascination with celebrity? (I’m sure someone has written a thesis about it.) My modest musings are that in his fascination and reproduction via pop art, he bred more fascination and in turn reproduction via mass media. Would he consider that an accomplishment? What would he think of tabloids?
His Art is about America
Warhol liked things that were distinctly American and also demonstrated commercialism, mass production, mass media. Enter the Campbell’s Soup Can, Brillo Pads, et al. He wanted something that everyone could relate to, to broaden art into something that more people can enjoy. Hence: Pop Art.
To me, the museum was more about America than about Warhol. Sure, it was through his eyes, but doesn’t everything have a lens?
He captured what was current and what was constant. Elvis and Popcicles.
Who decides which art gets put on a postcard? I’d like to have a talk with that person. The pieces that compel me are never available. I think they should let us order exactly which print we want; fine if it takes a week to arrive. That way there’s no cost to them to print every piece in the exhibit and those of us who like things outside of the popular pieces (Warhol pun intended) can get what inspires us.
Here’s a bit of what inspired me at the Andy Warhol Musuem; images courtesy of Bing.com.
The Process of Art
Through iPad exercises and time in the art studio, you can learn about silkscreen and the process of overlapping colors; repeating images. It was wonderful. An education and fun–isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?
Sprinkled throughout the museum are delicious quotes from him. I pretend that I know him better because of it, and think that I would have liked him as a person.
My favorite quote: “I didn’t get married until 1964, when I got my first tape recorder.”
Which artist have you “gotten to know” by visiting their museum?
Stay tuned for an upcoming post about Warhol’s time capsules. Fascinating and inspiring!