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John Richardson has died

Picasso

The front covers of the first three volumes of John Richardson's A Life of Picasso

March 13, 2019: It is with great sadness that I have to announce the death of the art historian John Richardson at the age of 95. The fourth volume of his fascinating biography of Pablo Picasso is due to be published later this year.

Richardson was a friend of Andy Warhol and gave the eulogy at Warhol's memorial. In his excellent book of essays, Sacred Monsters, Sacred Masters, he was also one of the first authors to write about Warhol's regular visits to Saint Vincent Ferrer Church in Manhattan and to note how Warhol served the homeless at the Church of the Heavenly Rest.

Richardson died on the morning of Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at home. He was born in London on February 6, 1924.

New York icon Michael Musto slates Michael Jackson after "Leaving Neverland"

March 11, 2019 (updated March 13 and 15, 2019): When Warhol star Brigid Berlin did her Michael Jackson needlepoint cushion years ago with the words "I'm No Freak - "Yes you are" - which was then posted online in the New York Social Diary on November 18, 2005, she would not have known that his victims would finally have their say in the film Leaving Neverland which was recently broadcast on HBO in the States and on Channel 4 in the U.K. She isn't the only one to pass judgment on Jackson. New York icon Michael Musto has recently slated Michael Jackson on Facebook after seeing Leaving Neverland.

Michael Jackson cushion by Andy Warhol superstar Brigid Berlin

Michael Jackson cushion - needlepoint by Brigid Berlin (New York Social Diary)

Musto, who has been covering the cultural scene in New York for almost four decades, has come down hard (figuratively speaking) on Michael Jackson since seeing Leaving Neverland. Musto has slated the disgraced pop star in postings on his Facebook page, such as:

Michael Musto on Michael Jackson

and

Michael Musto on Michael Jackson

and

Michael Jackson holding baby out the window

Not even Jackson's celebrity friends have come out to support him this time - and that includes his sisters LaToya and Janet Jackson; both of whom have failed to criticise the film which details how Jackson's abuse nearly destroyed two families. At least some of the family are suing HBO but it's over a contractual matter; they are not suing HBO for slander or libel. As noted in Vulture, "The suit hinges on a non-disparagement clause in a contract HBO signed in 1992 to air the live special Michael Jackson in Concert in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour. As part of that contract, the cable network agreed to 'not make any disparaging remarks concerning Performer or any of his representatives, agents, or business practices or do any act that may harm or disparage or cause to lower in esteem the reputation or public image of Performer.'"

But how can the Jackson family argue that disparaging comments were made in the film, if they haven't seen it? The American television network, CBS, has noted that "The Jackson family, though steadfast in their conviction that its claims are all lies, have not seen the documentary and don't plan on it. They said they don't need to."

The clause in the contract was obviously written in regard to a specific broadcasting of the "Michael Jackson in Concert" footage. It was not for perpetuity. A contract also cannot override a crime and molesting a child is a crime.

I have found one ex-pop star who still defends Jackson (yes, just one) - Billie Ray Martin who had a top 40 hit sometime during the 1990s. Despite not having seen the film, she has criticised it. To back up her opinion, she has posted a comment by "former associate of Michael Jackson Clyde Jenkins." Such an authoritative title (not). Was he in the room when Jackson slept with the children? Because Billie hasn't actually watched the film, she doesn't realise that what the "former associate" said is either largely irrelevant or disproved. When asked whether it would be legitimate to criticise one of her songs without listening to it, Billie answered that's "different." Really?

Meanwhile, Jackson's music is being dropped left, right and centre. An old Simpson's episode featuring the singer has been dropped and New Zealand radio stations have removed his music along with four major radio stations in Canada. A Michael Jackson statue has been removed from the National Football Museum in Manchester and a wax statue of of Jackson was removed from Denmark's oldest shopping mall. (See "The Simpsons aren't the only ones ditching Michael Jackson" on Marketwatch.) The musical artist, Drake, has also removed a Jackson demo from his 2018 song "Don't Matter to Me" from his current U.K. tour. A bus ad in England, paid for by supporters, has been removed "after complaints by sexual abuse survivor charity." E News is also reporting that Starbucks, Luis Vuitton, and other brands "want nothing more to do with the late King of Pop."

Over the weekend, the director of the film wrote an opinion piece saying he was "shocked by those who still won't accept Michael Jackson as abuser" in The Guardian newspaper:

The charge that James and Wade are in it for money is equally flimsy. In 2013, Wade (joined later by James in a separate, but similar case) launched a lawsuit against Jackson’s estate, claiming that Jackson’s business associates knew he was molesting little boys but turned a blind eye. Their cases were dismissed on technical grounds, but the judge made no ruling on the validity of the abuse claims. The cases have both gone to appeal.

So where will this “gold” come from? The answer is that Wade and James would have to win it in a hotly contested court battle. A jury would have to weigh up evidence – of which there is plenty – and decide that their claims were valid. And damages would then be awarded against the Jackson estate. Some people would call that justice. The most extraordinary thing in all this is that no one denies that Jackson took little boys to his bed, night after night, for many, many years. What did his family and business associates think he was doing with these little boys behind a locked door? Did they believe he was actually a child in the body of a man and therefore somehow needed to sleep with little boys? That makes no sense if you think about it for more than a second. Why has it taken 30 years for Jackson to be unmasked? Here in the UK we were all asking the same question after Jimmy Savile.

Supporters of Jackson are deluging Twitter in defence of Michael Jackson - but at least some of the profiles appear to be fake. Check the name of the profile and the date. Did the person sign up just before or around the time the film was broadcast? Do most of the tweets have to do with the film? Sometimes they try to make it look like a normal profile by adding things like pictures of cute cats, but the ruse is easily noticed. Fake profiles should be reported to twitter (as I have done.)

The Jackson supporters tend to talk about his musical genius, but it was the English songwriter who wrote Thriller and Jackson's successes probably had more to do with Quincy Jones than with Jackson. (Michael is credited with vocals and "handclaps" on Thriller.) There's an excellent documentary on Quincy Jones on Netflix at the moment.

Kudos to the filmmakers who made the film, to HBO and Channel 4 (in the U.K.) for screening it, and to Michael Musto for defending it. Shame on the Jackson fanatics who criticise the film without having seen it.

Research for new Valerie Solanas book leads to NYPD pix of Andy Warhol's offices after he was shot

Andy Warhol's office after Valerie Solanas shot him

nypd_49598-01: Felonious assault scene at 33 Union Square where Andy Warhol and Mario Amaya were shot by Valerie Solanas, desk area with bloody paper, facing west, June 4, 1968. NYPD Photo Collection, NYC Municipal Archives.

March 4, 2019: The new Valerie Solanas book by Mary Jo Watts and Sara Warner (Cornell University) is currently being researched and promises to be "a cultural history of the 20th century as Valerie navigated it - the people and institutions she interacted with" according to Watts. While Watts was researching the book, she came across a treasure trove of NYPD of shots taken after the shooting and photographs of Warhol's various "factories" or offices. As a result of Watts research, NY City has done a blog about the locations with lots of newly discovered photographs. See "Andy Warhol in the City." by Raul E. Flores. Highly recommended.

Reuben Kadish: Classic and Surreal

March 3, 2019: The work of Reuben Kadish, who is featured in the Abstract Expressionism section of this site, will be exhibited at the Monterey Museum of Art from March 7 to April 28, 2019.

Gretchen Berg has died

Andy Warhol at Anthology Film Archives opening

Paul Morrissey, Michel Auder and Andy Warhol at the opening of the Anthology Film Archives (Photo: Gretchen Berg, 1970)

March 2, 2019: One death that went largely unnoticed at the beginning of the year was the death of Gretchen Berg, the journalist responsible for some of Warhol's most quoted expressions, except, as was later revealed by Matt Wrbican in the exhibition catalogue for the Other Voices Other Rooms exhibition, most of the words were actually Berg's rather than Warhol's. As Wrbican points out in the catalogue, the artist never said "If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface:of my paintings and me, and there I am. There's nothing behind it." Nor did he say "I never wanted to be a painter. I wanted to be a tap dancer." Berg's interview is often referenced, however, in essays and books about Warhol's work. She, like Gene Swenson before her, were probably responsible for the most quoted misquotes by (or not by) Andy Warhol. Berg was also a photographer of course - it is not known what happened to her photographs after her death.

Comments and tributes can be left on her Legacy page. She was born on May 17, 1943 and died on January 3, 2019.

What is this?

Commonism and Andy Warhol

February 18, 2019: A site user has brought to my attention a 9 page document. The title page, above, has a quote by Andy Warhol saying "I am doing all 34 Campbell Soups...although they say there are 21." It is true that Campbell's advertised 21 different flavours of soups, but Warhol worked from a list of 31 soup flavours listed on a Campbell's product list for his Ferus-style Soup Cans. It is reproduced in the catalogue raisonne. He added one flavour that wasn't on the list - Turkey Vegetable. But that doesn't explain why he referred to "34 Campbell Soups" in the quote or what, exactly, this document is. It is described in the following way on the "Specific Objects" website:

Unattributed publication consisting of three black-and-white pages with short introductory texts on Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and Jim Dine followed by six yellow sheets indexing exhibitions and events in New York in the month of February 1962 in chronology. Exhibitions and concerts documented include Rosenquist at Green Gallery, "Poem Paintings" at Kornblee Gallery, Wols at Cordier-Warren Gallery, Harry Callahan and Robert Frank at The Museum of Modern Art, "A concert of electronic music by (you guessed!) Richard Mayfield, Dick Higgins, Terry Riley, La Monte Young" at Cooper Union, "Opening of the first one-man exhibition of paintings of comic strips and domestic appliances by Roy Lichtenstein, a leading exponent of the new school of 'Commonist' paintings" at Leo Castelli Gallery, "Reading by e.e. cummings" at Poetry Center."

Any ideas of what this item is? (Email me at: garycom@blueyonder.co.uk)

Andy Warhol "short films" at Casa Perfect?

andy warhol at casa perfect

February 13, 2019: A site user has sent me a copy of an announcement regarding an exhibition of photographs by Andy Warhol, with a private view this Friday, February 15th. The exhibition will be running for more than a month - until March 22, 2019.

The announcement says that the show features "never-before-seen photographs and filmography by the pop art pioneer." It's not clear what they mean by "filmography." A filmography is a list of films like the one on this site. Or, by "filmography," do they mean they are going to be showing or selling films?

A blog by Pedro Silmon about the exhibition goes into even more detail. He describes it as a "selling exhibition" which features "images of, among others, Jane Fonda, Lana Turner, Tina Chow, Candy Spelling, Diana Vreeland and Lou Reed" and will include "photo-booth strips, silver gelatin prints and short films."

Short films? Does he mean that they are selling or showing "short films" by Andy Warhol? What short films?

Under the photographs on the blog page are the words "All images by Andy Warhol, from the James Hedges Foundation, courtesy Casa Perfect." The James Hedges Foundation, or at least "Hedges Projects," were behind an exhibition of Pat Hackett's Polaroids last year.

David Alhadeff, listed on the announcement, can be found in the New York Times here.

I wrote to "Press" at the Future Perfect, asking for a press release and for the provenance of the photographs being sold - i.e. who sold them to the person or group now selling them? - and I got a response from someone called Veronica Speck: "Thank you for reaching out! I have copied my colleague Joy who can send you more information." Her email wasn't cc'd to anyone and I still haven't heard from "Joy."

As is always the case with photographs, the buyer should make sure that they know basic information about the photograph they are purchasing, such as its provenance, the owner of the negative, and whether or not it is from a limited print run.

Mostly, I'm concerned about the "short films" mentioned in the blog and the "filmography" mentioned on the announcement. If you go to the private view or the exhibition, can you let me know what short films they are showing and/or selling? Thanks. (garycom@blueyonder.co.uk)

"Last Interview" with Jonas Mekas published in The Guardian

Jonas Mekas Last Interview The Guardian

January 24, 2019: The "last interview" with Jonas Mekas has been published in The Guardian newspaper. Mekas died on Wednesday at home in Brooklyn at the age of 96. See "Jonas Mekas and the Film-Makers' Cinematheque." Obituaries in the Guardian, New York Times, ARTNews, LeMonde, 15min, Variety, Rolling Stone, Daily Mail.

Andy Warhol's Polaroids at Bastian in London

Andy Warhol Polaroids at Bastian

January 22, 2019: "Andy Warhol: Polaroid Pictures" opens at Bastian London on February 2, 2019 and runs until April 13, 2019 at 8 Davies Street, London W1K 3DW. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 6 pm.

The mysterious past of Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol's father's draft card

The draft card of Andy Warhol's father, Andrew Warhola from "Andy Warhol’s Ancestry: Facts, Myths, and Mysteries."

January 11, 2019: The Carpatho-Rusyn scholar and Associate Professor Emerita of the University of Maryland, Elaine Rusinko, has done a considerable amount of research into Warhol's geneology and has written a new essay, "Andy Warhol’s Ancestry: Facts, Myths, and Mysteries," which clears up a significant amount of information about his roots, while also pointing out the problems inherent with researching them. As she points out in her essay:

For Warhola genealogy, most relevant documents can be found in the record books of the church of St. Michael the Archangel in Miková. Until 1895 the Kingdom of Hungary mandated the church to maintain official birth, death, and marriage registers. These were subsequently transferred to regional state archives, where they became the basis for legal civil records... For Miková, only records from the last quarter of the 19th century are easily available, and while these registers are extremely valuable, searching them is not easy. Most are not indexed, many are incomplete, and are illegible... A further difficulty for western researchers of Carpatho-Rusyn parish books is their linguistic and orthographic complexity. As a result of the convoluted history of the Warholas’ homeland, official records were kept by parish priests in Church Slavonic, Latin, Hungarian, Russian, or Rusyn, depending on political and ecclesiastical circumstances. Consequently, as the original Cyrillic orthography was transliterated in various alphabets, there are numerous spellings for any Carpatho-Rusyn name.

As someone with a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literature from Brown University, Professor Rusinko is well-suited to the task of dealing with the variations inherent in the different languages. The result is a fascinating essay with previously unknown information about Warhol's past. She begins her essay with Bob Colacello's claim that "one of Julia’s grandmothers was Jewish," and continues with a riveting examination of Andy Warhol's mysterious roots. The essay is here.

Harold Stevenson

January 5, 2019: Tawsha Brinkley-Davenport, who has been writing a book on Harold Stevenson, would like to hear from anyone who knew him or has stories about him. The book will be called Echo of Of Idabel-Conversations with Harold Stevenson Jr. and there is a new website for it at www.haroldstevensonjr.com.

Eulogy for Patrick Fleming

by his nephew, Declan Buckley

Warhol stars Patrick Fleming and Ed Hood

Patrick Fleming (left), Ed Hood (second from right), Andy Paley (far right) Photo: Steve Nelson ©2004/SNPIX.com

January 3, 2019: The nephew of the Warhol star Patrick Fleming gave the following eulogy at Patrick's funeral on December 31, 2018. Condolences can be left on his Boston Globe legacy page here.

Good Morning

It is an honor to eulogize Patrick James Fleming of Barryroe, County Cork and long-time resident of Cambridge Massachusetts.

He was Pat to his family, Patrick to his friends and The Irish Harvard Square Warlock Icon to more than a few.

To me he was always Uncle Pat.

One of the most heartwarming things about the past few days has been that I’ve learned more about my Uncle Pat than I have in my whole life. He was an enigma, he was an original, and he was dearly, dearly loved.

There has been such an outpouring of love from people over the past couple days I would like to share a few memories from his family and his good friends.

All his family fondly remember how he’d call on the phone, late at night, and sing, and play his guitar…sometimes for a very long time.

If you weren’t home. He’d leave musical messages. They were also very very long.

At Holiday parties, he’d sit at the kids table and sing rock and roll songs that would have his Nieces and Nephews including me, in tears of laughter. He’d then casually call his Rock Star friend and put him on the phone with us. 

To his friend and roommate Michael Weddle He was THE HOST of the party. On Putnam Ave they’d light the candles, put out some white tablecloths, cook up some spaghetti, break out the wine, and sit around playing music till the sun came up. He hosted this for his friends for years. Every single Thursday. The host!

His friend of 50 years Helene Saad said and I quote “Patrick had such great insight, perhaps from his Irish roots… and was always truthful in a jovial way. He was truly a star.”

Patrick’s long-time friend Peter Fosdick who will always be considered by our family as Patrick’s Guardian Angel simply called Patrick “a Poet….”

Patrick’s close friend from the 70’s, Andy Pale, wrote to me after Patrick died to say,  “I loved Patrick very much… Somewhere I have a collection of some of his remarkable sayings titled “Patrick-isms.”

Among the gems are “fire distinguisher” and “wrist less watch” there are many, many more! Most of all I have great memories of a truly wonderful guy who was the most loyal friend in the world.”

One of my own cherished memories is Christmas night a few years back – There was a raging snowstorm.  Pat and I decided to head to the Middle East bar in Cambridge, we sat at the bar and drank beer and talked for hours, he made me laugh, and he told me wonderful stories ... a few other people milled around the bar and of course Pat knew them all…

When it came time to leave Pat hugged me and said “I love you buddy, Merry Christmas ” … and then he gave me some joints...

Followed by “Don’t tell your mother…”

I said “Pat – let me drive you home” it was really snowing hard literally a blizzard, and Pat said “No, No..I’ll be alright...’ and then I watched Pat walk off alone, into this raging storm… in dress shoes…in the opposite direction of where he lived!

I’ve spent a good portion of my life trying to get to know who Pat was. 

That night was Pat.

He was loyal and loving, he was generous, he was funny, he was private, and he was fiercely independent…

That is who he was and that is how I’ll remember him...

We love you Brother Pat
We love you Uncle Pat
and we love you, our great friend Patrick

I love you too Buddy

———

Happy New Year

January 1, 2019: Happy New Year! More to come.

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