"Pietro Psaier" Chronology
Gary Comenas/London, August/September 2008
This topic is also being discussed at: http://arthistory.about.com/b/2008/08/10/who-on-earth-was-pietro-psaier.htm
(Scroll down for comment section once you reach the page)
In late July 2008 I requested the deletion of the Wikipedia biography of "Pietro Psaier" because it alleged that Psaier was an integral part of Andy Warhol's Factory. After seven days of debate Wikipedia decided to remove the biography after no Wikipedia users were able to provide sufficient evidence that Psaier was part of the Factory or even existed. I have started this chronology in order to try and discover whether someone named "Pietro Psaier" did ever exist and if he ever visited the Factory or had anything to do with Andy Warhol.
[Note: January 8, 2011: This chronology was originally posted in 2008. After posting it some of the links were removed from the net by the entities involved. You may find that some of them no longer work. The most current updates are at:
http://warholstars.org/pietro_psaier_factory_additions.html (January 2011)
http://warholstars.org/pietro_psaier_art_1.html (December 2010)
http://warholstars.org/andy_warhol_pietro_psaier_1110.html (November 2010)
http://warholstars.org/pietro_psaier.html (October 2010)
See also: Signed collaboration by Andy Warhol and "Pietro Psaier" currently being sold in the Netherlands for 7,500 euros.]
1936 or 1939: PIETRO PSAIER IS ALLEGEDLY BORN.
There seems to be a discrepancy as to when Psaier was born. In the latest press release issued by John Nicholson for a sale in September 2008 of the artist's work the year is given as 1936. Bonhams auction house lists Psaier's birth year as 1939. Some works on the net give the 1936 year and some 1939. The press releases from John Nicholsons auctioneers say he was born in "Italy" or in "a small village outside Rome."
"Psaier" may have had a son although it is not mentioned on Nicholson's press release announcing the September auction. The blurb on Quiarte.com about Psaier notes "The Studio Psaier archive is slowly being catalogued in Los Angeles and Psaier’s son, the Italian-American artist, Peter Psaier, continues to undertake licensing of his Father’s work through Factory Additions Inc." (http://www.quiarte.com/15201.html)
The alleged "son" is also mentioned on a slightly different biography offered by the original "Studio Psaier" website in November 2004. The current Studio Psaier site is registered in London presumably by a collector or someone with an interest in Psaier but there was a previous site which had the following biography of the artist which conflicts with the version on current press releases:
Studio Psaier: 3 Generations of fine art
The Studio Psaier is the legacy of three generations of internationally acclaimed artists named Pietro Psaier. The artist Pietro Psaier first opened his studio in Italy during the 1950's while he was working closely with Enzo Ferrari to design a new look for the Ferrari racecar.
In 1939 Pietro had a son. He was named after his father and trained in the fine arts to carry on the family legacy. This generation of Psaier is best known for his paintings with close friend Andy Warhol from the factory in New York. After a very successful and colorful career, Pietro Psaier retired in 1989 to pursue a life of simplicity & enlightenment in Tibet.
That same year his son Peter (born in 1963) relocated the Psaier studio from New York to Madrid where he continued the family tradition of fine art. After more than a decade the Studio Psaier has returned to the United States.
Paintings from Peter Psaier are now available from the newly relocated Studio Psaier in Los Angeles.
[Note 8 January 2011: It is now known that Pietro's alleged son, Peter, is married to Nadia Fairchild who was convicted of "conspiracy to obtain property namely, money and cheques from auction houses by deception between October, 1987, and November, 1988..." (http://warholstars.org/andy_warhol_pietro_psaier_1110.html#jkxp2)]
POST-WAR ITALY: PIETRO PSAIER MOVES TO MADRID AND PRODUCES A "TIJUANA BIBLE EXHIBITION?"
According to John Nicholson's press release announcing his Psaier auction in September 2008, "Feeling lost in post-war Italy the young Pietro relocated to Madrid during the dark Franco era. The artist explored the world of classical bull fighting. He created his own style of art known as Toro Pop. Psaier produced a Tijuana Bible exhibition. The erotica works in the exhibition were seized by Franco's Guardia Civil on the orders of the Catholic Church. Psaier was arrested and imprisoned and subsequently deported back to Italy."
The gallery at which this exhibition was alleged to have taken place is not mentioned in the press release. (Tijuana is a city in Mexico).
c. SUMMER 1963: PIETRO PSAIER MEETS RICK GRIFFIN?
According to Nicholson's current press release, "in the summer of 1963 Pietro Psaier traveled to Mexico City and made his way to California. In the Santa Monica Mountains he met hippy surfer Rick Griffin."
(A previous John Nicholson press release from February 2008 titled "Pietro Psaier & Andy Warhol" claimed "Feeling lost in post-war Italy the young Pietro relocated first to Madrid and then in 1961 found his way to Soho, New York." The same press release said "In the early 70's Psaier moved to California and together with Rick Griffin designed psychedelic rock posters for various bands.")
We will assume that the current press release is correct and that Psaier's 'Griffin period' was during 1963. This is important because there are works alleged to be by Psaier which have references to Griffin. Both Bonhams and Christies have sold at least one work each which refers to "Griffin."
On September 4, 1997 Christies (South Kensington) sold an undated work called "Psychedelia" described as: "A printed reproduction of a collage Psaier & Griffin Nells Joint Show New York, inscribed in white crayon 6/25 Pietro Psaier Rick Griffin -- 283⁄4x181⁄2in. (73x47cm.) framed."
But the Griffin in the description seems to be "Griffin Nells" Strangely, it refers to a "Joint Show" in New York rather than California. There is a club in New York called "Nells" but it didn't open until 1986. (One of the owners is Nell Campbell, who was the tap dancer in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.)
The work sold by Bonhams (Knightsbridge) with a reference to "Griffin" was in their on November 16, 2005 sale. It was described as "Lot No: 766/ Pietro Psaier: 'War Is Over - If You Want It'/oil on canvas, signed, reverse signed and inscribed by the artist and with Studio Psaier-New York certificate reading Lennon Study For New York City Subway/Artist Proof. Unpublished Achive (sic). Title War Is Over. Painted in Soho, New York for Giffin Records (sic)/Sold for £1,080 inclusive of Buyer's Premium
Again this was undated and painted in New York, not California, for a record company.
I have also seen what appears to be some sort of announcement or label listing Studio Psaier at "Psaier & Griffin Works, Neptune's Net, County Line, PCH, Malibu 90265" although it is undated. Neptunes Net is apparently a burger joint popular with surfers on the county line between Ventura and L.A. which is still popular with surfers today. It's unclear what the item is - possibly part of an announcement for a show or the address of Studio Psaier. But in any case, why would either be located at a burger joint?
1964: PIETRO PSAIER MEETS ANDY WARHOL?
Left: A photo distributed with John Nicholson's latest press release for reproduction
Right: The article on Psaier in a Spanish newspaper reproduced in the Antiques Trade Gazette
In Nicholson's current press release, he doesn't indicate what year Psaier allegedly met Warhol, he simply states, after the section on Rick Griffin, that "Later Psaier moved to New York. Whilst working as a waiter in the Greenwich Village Gaslight Café he met Andy Warhol. Warhol nicknamed him “Peter the Italian” and they worked and remained friends until the late 1960s." (http://www.johnnicholsons.com/da/56037)
An earlier press release, issued in February, is more specific about the year, saying "Whilst working as a waiter in the Greenwich Village Gaslight Café in 1964 Pietro Psaier met Andy Warhol and an extraordinary bisexual relationship blossomed. " (http://pressport.co.uk/read/pressrelease/Pietro-Psaier-Andy-Warhol-4982)
The current press release continues "Warhol nicknamed him [Psaier] “Peter the Italian” and they worked and remained friends until the late 1960s." (http://www.johnnicholsons.com/da/56037)
The publicity photograph distributed for reproduction with the current press release (pictured above left) shows "Psaier" seated near Warhol. Although the press release states that they "worked and remained friends until the late 1960s" the photograph itself is undated. Is it supposed to be a photograph of Psaier and Warhol from the 1960s when they are alleged to have been "friends?"
In August 2008, the Antiques Trade Gazette reproduced a newspaper article from a Spanish newspaper which contained another photograph of "Psaier." It is pictured above right. The caption under that picture is "A copy of the interview, which has a copyright imprint at the bottom, reading: El Independiente Jovenes – Madrid, domingo 25 de febrero de 1990."
The Gazette reporter points out that in a leaflet for a Psaier exhibition at the Hotel Ritz in Madrid, "One of the photos" in the leaflet "is attributed to a 1993 issue of Downtown magazine... although it is the same photo that appears in the 1990 El Independiente Jovenes article. " (http://www.antiquestradegazette.com/news/6822.aspx)
It is unclear as to when the photo in the 1993 issue of Downtown or the 1990 El Independient Jovenes article (pictured above right) was actually taken as Psaier looks about the same age or younger than in the photo of him and Warhol. Because of this it is difficult to date either photo.
To further complicate matters in regard to dates, the press release for John Nicholson's September sale states, "Although Warhol needed to trace and use a light box Psaier was a skilled artist with watercolours, oils and pencil. Psaier produced layouts, silk-screens and joint works at Warhol’s studio 'The Factory' though few artistic or financial rewards would come his way. Some critics say that without Psaier and fellow artist Rupert Jasen Smith in the background, Warhol could never have produced and maintained production of the Factory commercial output but with both dignity and style neither men chose not to take the limelight from Warhol."
The reason this complicates the dates as to when Psaier was supposed to be working for Warhol is because Smith didn't start working for Warhol until the late 1970s. Also, I am not sure who the "some critics" are who are referred to. The first I heard of the claim - that "without Psaier and fellow artist Rupert Jasen Smith, Warhol could never have produced and maintained production of the Factory commercial output" - was in the John Nicholson's press release. I don't know of any other "critics" who have made that claim.
Because the dates as to when Psaier actually worked for Warhol are confusing, I asked associates of Warhol from all time periods whether they had ever come across Psaier. Billy Name first met Andy Warhol during the late 1950s. At the time Name was working at Serendipity Cafe which Warhol frequented. They became friends and when Warhol moved into the Factory, Billy designed the silver look of the Factory and moved into it. He also became known as the Factory photographer after being given a 35mm camera by Andy Warhol. As a close friend of Warhol and the only person who actually lived at the Factory Billy was particularly well-placed to know who was and who wasn't at the Factory. If anyone would know who Psaier was, Billy would. But when I asked him in an email whether he recalled Psaier, he responded (on July 28, 2008), "he certainly wasn't around the factory anytime in the sixties."
Ronald Tavel, who was Andy Warhol's scriptwriter during the 1960s also did not recall Psaier. In an email dated August 3, 2008, Ronald Tavel said, "I have never heard of someone named Pietro Psaier, nor do I believe that such a person worked at The Factory or collaborated with Andy Warhol." Yet, in Nicholson's February press release, Nicholson claimed that after Warhol and Psaier met in 1964, "Psaier began designing backdrops for Warhol's films..." (http://pressport.co.uk/read/pressrelease/Pietro-Psaier-Andy-Warhol-4982)
Vincent Fremont was a close associate of Andy Warhol during the 1970s and 1980s and later went on to work for the Andy Warhol Authentication Board. When I asked him about Psaier he responded in an email also dated January 28, 2008: "As you know, I met Andy in 1969. I was hired by Andy to work full time at his studio around January 1971. When I was made Vice-President of Andy Warhol Enterprises, Inc. in around 1974 I was given a business checking account. I paid most of the bills and wrote all the payroll checks and freelance workers checks from then on. I never met or remember a Pietro Psaier collaborating with Andy Warhol to create artwork. There is no mention of him in Andy's diary. Yes, you are right I would know who was around Andy in the 1970s and 80s and I do not remember him."
Andy Warhol was a hoarder. His archives at The Warhol museum contain a huge amount of documentation that he saved throughout his life. Matt Wrbican, the chief archivist of the Warhol museum, made the following statement on an Andy Warhol Wikipedia discussion page on March 18, 2008: "Another troubling matter is the reference to Pietro Psaier. As custodian of Warhol's archives, I can state unequivocally that I have never seen any reference to this person in them. It's my belief that his alleged friendship/collaboration is a complete sham and hoax, and I would really love to have that belief shattered with indisputable hard evidence." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki?title=Talk:Andy_Warhol)
In a statement to the Times (London) in an article published on August 7, 2008, Tim Hunt, a British curator with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, said: “I don’t remember ever seeing anything in the literature or anywhere else" about Psaier. (http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual_arts/article4474224.ece)
On the back of one painting alleged to be by Psaier, purchased in the 1990s from John Nicholson by a blogger who goes under the name "Tuscan Tony," is an inscription to Holly Woodlawn who appeared in films produced by Warhol, Trash and Women in Revolt (directed by Paul Morrissey), which reads "To Holly Woodlawn, P.J. Clark's New Year 1970 New York Love Pietro." Yet when asked about the painting Holly replied, ""I've never seen this painting in my entire life."(P.J. Clarke's is also misspelled in the painting.)
A "Psaier" painting inscribed to Holly Woodlawn
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