The Life and Death of Andy Warhol

Review :

"Few people have seen my films or paintings, but perhaps those few will become more aware of living by being made to think about themselves. People need to be made more aware of the need to work at learning how to live because life is so quick and sometimes it goes away too quickly." - Andy Warhol

I was introduced to the art of Andy Warhol in Art History when I was 15. I've adored him ever since. I've read a lot about this artist, one of the greatest of the 20th century, and arguably its most important because he changed EVERYTHING - art was never the same again.

There are many biographies about this enigmatic man, but it wasn't until I discovered Victor Bockris' that I felt I could begin to understand Warhol. Bockris, who knew Warhol personally and was part of his posse, draws you into the artist's world. The book is a meaty one (my copy had over 500 pages) but I could not put it down and finished it in a couple of days. I had borrowed it from a friend and now want my own copy so I can read it again and again.

Bockris begins with Warhol's Eastern European roots (his parents emigrated to the US from what is now known as eastern Slovakia) and explores the impact of poverty on Warhol, who later celebrated money and consumerism in his work. He tells of Andy's development from a commercial to fine artist, the animosity of other 'fine' artists to Andy's work, the intentional mystery and irony Andy created around himself, and Andy's constant need for approval. Warhol was a lonely and self-conscious figure but managed to create a persona, an alter-ego in the manner of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, a charisma that attracted the rich and famous.

"Who was Andy Warhol" Bockris asks. "Was he, as Time magazine had persisted in vilifying him, the supreme 'huckster of hype' Or was he, as his legions of collectors and followers insisted, a seer whose vision captured the true, ephemeral fragmentation of our time And the man: was he, as many claimed, a modern Mephistopheles, coldly indifferent to the self-destructiveness that overtook so many who had pledged allegiance to him, including one deranged groupie who had tried to assassinate him Or was he, as others said, something of a 'saint'"

This book is a must-read not only for fans of Warhol but anyone who wants to understand the Baby Boomer-era and the seminal artist of that time.

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