Andy Warhol and The Velvet Undgerground
At Rutgers University
At the film society, Andy Warhol showed Vinyl, Lupe, and film footage of Nico and the Velvet Underground while they were playing. His entourage also included Paul Morrissey, Gerard Malanga, a blonde girl named Susanna, Ingrid Superstar, Nat Finkelstein, Barbara Rubin, Danny Williams (working the lights) and an Englishman named John Wilcock who was one of the first journalists to cover the counterculture. (POP152)
"Andy arrived at Rutgers on the afternoon of March 9 with an entourage of thirteen people and went straight to the student cafeteria where the boys and girls flipped out gawking at Nico while Barbara Rubin filmed their reactions and Nat Finkelstein took photographs. When the campus guards told he couldn't, Nat punched one of them in the nose and the next thing he knew sixteen cops arrived. They asked Andy for his cafeteria pass which he never had. Gerard and Paul started screaming, and everyone got thrown out... The show, which hadn't been selling too well prior to their arrival, sold out in the next two hours and 650 students packed the auditorium to see what would happen next." (UT37-38)
"Ondine, who played the Pope in Warhol's Chelsea Girls, was part of the ensemble at Rutgers. He insists that Paul Morrissey forced him out of the show from then on, to his grief. He had always been our close friend, in or out of the show. We had no hand in, or knowledge of, the machinations that removed him." (UT38)
According to Sterling, "At Rutgers we were all dressed entirely in white. The effect, with all the films and lights projected on us, was invisibility." (UT38)
It was fantastic to see Nico singing with a big movie of her face right behind her. Gerard was dancing with two long shining flashlights, one in each hand, twirling them like batons... I was behind one of the projectors, moving images around. (POP153)
The show was a smash. In Ann Arbor, Andy was interviewed by local and school papers. They asked him about his movies and what he was trying to do. Referring to the audience, he said: If they can take it for ten minutes, then we play it for fifteen... Thats our policy. Always leave them wanting less." (POP152-4)
Warhol's comments were not unlike similar comments made by Frank Stella in reference to John Cage in a radio interview conducted by Irving Sandler and broadcast in 1962. In an earlier discussion panel at New York University, which Sandler attended, Stella had also said that he would like a machine to do his paintings - again, similar to comments that Warhol made about his own art.
" While participating on a panel at a New York University in 1960, he [Frank Stella] remarked that he found few creative ideas in current art; there were not even any good gimmicks. He then said that it was enough for him to have an interesting idea; he would be happy if someone else, or a machine, made his pictures according to his specifications. What interested him most was the idea and not the process of painting. He couldn't understand why it was bad for an artist who had a good idea to just execute it or have someone else do it... I attended Frank's talk at NYU with Robert Goldwater, who was just as outraged as I was. When we left the lecture hall, he turned to me and said: 'That man's not an artist. He's a juvenile delinquent.'
In the most vicious review I ever wrote, published in Art International at the end of 1960, I compared Frank to Ad Reinhardt, commenting that both use 'geometry and monochromatic 'colour,' but where Reinhardt is engrossed with purity in art and paints monotonous pictures because he feels that art should be difficult, aloof, for the museums and hence, dead, Stella seems interested in monotony for its own sake, as an attitude to life and art... Frank did not hold my hostile critique against me, and when I asked to interview him on the radio in 1962, he agreed... Frank said that he wanted to make direct paintings, paintings you could see all at once, whereas Reinhardt wanted the opposite... I then asked Frank whether he thought his work was boring. He replied that it was boring to make but shouldn't be boring to look at. He then quoted John Cage that if something looks boring after two minutes, look at it for four; if it's still boring, try it for eight, then sixteen. At one point it will become very interesting." (IS281-2)