Andy Warhol's Final Interview
(Photo: Curtis Knapp)
The last known interview to take place with Andy Warhol appeared in Flash Art magazine in April 1987. The interviewer was art writer, Paul Taylor, who died of AIDS a week after his 35th birthday in 1992. His interview with Warhol appears below:
Paul Taylor: You are going to be showing your Last Supper paintings in Milan this year.
Andy Warhol: Yes.
Paul Taylor: When did you make the paintings?
Andy Warhol: I was working on them all year. They were supposed to be shown in December, then January. Now I don't know when.
Paul Taylor: Are they painted?
Andy Warhol: I don't know. Some were painted, but they're not going to show the painted ones. We'll use the silk-screened ones.
Paul Taylor: On some of them you have camouflage over the top of the images. Why is that?
Andy Warhol: I had some leftover camouflage.
Paul Taylor: From the self portraits?
Andy Warhol: Yeah
Paul Taylor: Did you do any preparatory drawings for them?
Andy Warhol: Yeah, I tried. I did about forty paintings.
Paul Taylor: They were all preparatory?
Andy Warhol: Yeah.
Paul Taylor: It's very odd to see images like this one doubled.
Andy Warhol: They're just the small ones.
Paul Taylor: The really big one is where there are images upside down and the right way up.
Andy Warhol: That's right.
Paul Taylor: It's odd because you normally see just one Jesus at a time.
Andy Warhol: Now there are two.
Paul Taylor: Like the two Popes?
Andy Warhol: The European Pope and the American Pope.
Paul Taylor: Did you see Dokoupil's show at Sonnabend Gallery?
Andy Warhol: Oh no, I haven't gone there yet. I want to go on Saturday.
Paul Taylor: It might be the last day. There you will see two Jesuses on crucifixes, one beside the other.
Andy Warhol: Oh
Paul Taylor: And he explained to me something like how it was transgressive to have two Jesuses in the same picture.
Andy Warhol: He took the words out of my mouth.
Paul Taylor: You're trying to be transgressive?
Andy Warhol: Yes.
Paul Taylor: In America, you could be almost as famous as Charles Manson. Is there any similarity between you at the Factory and Jesus at the Last Supper?
Andy Warhol: That's negative, to me it's negative. I don't want to talk about negative things.
Paul Taylor: Well, what about these happier days at the present Factory? Now you're a corporation president.
Andy Warhol: It's the same.
Paul Taylor: Why did you do the Last Supper?
Andy Warhol: Because [Alexander] Iolas asked me to do the Last Supper. He got a gallery in front of the other Last Supper, and he asked three or four people to do Last Suppers.
Paul Taylor: Does the Last Supper theme mean anything in particular to you?
Andy Warhol: No. It's a good picture.
Paul Taylor: What do you think about those books and articles, like Stephen Koch's Stargazer, and a 1964 Newsweek piece called Saint Andrew, that bring up the subject of Catholicism?"
Andy Warhol: I don't know. Stephen Koch's book was interesting because he was able to write a whole book about it. He has a new book out which I'm trying to to buy to turn into a screenplay. I think it's called The Bride's Bachelors or some Duchampy title. Have you read it yet?
Paul Taylor: No, I read the review in The New York Times Book Review.
Andy Warhol: What did it say?
Paul Taylor: It was okay.
Andy Warhol: Yeah? What's it about?
Paul Taylor: Stephen Koch described it to me himself. He said it was about a heterosexual Rauschenberg figure in the sixties, a magnetic artist who has qualities of a lot of sixties artists. He has an entourage. I don't know the rest.
Andy Warhol: I've been meaning to call him and see if he can tell me the story and send me the book.
Paul Taylor: Who's making a screenplay?
Andy Warhol: We thought that we might be able to do it.
Paul Taylor: It's a great idea. Would you be able to get real people to play themselves in it?
Andy Warhol: I don't know. It might be good.
Paul Taylor: Do you have screenwriters here?
Andy Warhol: We just bought Tama Janowitz's book called Slaves of New York.
Paul Taylor: Does that mean you're going back into movie production?
Andy Warhol: We're trying. But actually what we're working on is our video show which MTV is buying.
Paul Taylor: Nothing Special?
Andy Warhol: No, it's called Andy Warhol's Fifteen Minutes. It was on Thursday last week and it's showing again Monday and it'll be shown two more times: December, and we're doing one for January.
Paul Taylor: Do you make them?
Andy Warhol: No, Vincent works on them. Vincent Fremont.
Paul Taylor: Do you look through the camera on these things at all.
Andy Warhol: No.
Paul Taylor: What's your role?
Andy Warhol: Just interviewing people.
Paul Taylor: If there was a movie made out of Stephen Koch's novel, what would be your role in it?
Andy Warhol: I don't know. I'd have to read it first.
Paul Taylor: It's not usual for business people to talk about these deals before they make them.
Andy Warhol: I don't care if anyone... there's always another book.
Paul Taylor: I saw Ileana [Sonnabend] today and asked her what I should ask you, and she said, "I don't know. For Andy everything is equal".
Andy Warhol: She's right.
Paul Taylor: How do you describe that point of view?
Andy Warhol: I don't know. If she said it she's right. [laughs]
Paul Taylor: It sounds zennish.
Andy Warhol: Zennish? What's that?
Paul Taylor: Like Zen.
Andy Warhol: Zennish. That's a good word. That's a good title for... my new book.
Paul Taylor: What about your transformation from being a commercial artist to a real artist.
Andy Warhol: I'm still a commercial artist. I was always a commercial artist.
Paul Taylor: Then what's a commercial artist?
Andy Warhol: I don't know - someone who sells art.
Paul Taylor: So almost all artists are commerical artists, just to varying degrees.
Andy Warhol: I think so.
Paul Taylor: Is a better commercial artist one who sells more work?
Andy Warhol: I don't know. When I started out, art was doing down the drain. The people who used to magazine illustrations and the covers were being replaced by photographers. And when they started using photographers, I started to show my work with galleries. Everybody also was doing window decoration. That led into more galleries. I had some paintings in a window, then in a gallery.
Paul Taylor: Is there a parallel situation now?
Andy Warhol: No, it just caught on so well that there's a new gallery open every day now.There are a lot more artists, which is real great.
Paul Taylor: What has happened to the idea of good art?
Andy Warhol: It's all good art.
Paul Taylor: Is that to say that it's all equal?
Andy Warhol: "Yeah well, I don't know, I can't...
Paul Taylor: You're not interested in making distinctions.
Andy Warhol: Well no, I just can't tell the difference. I don't see why one Jasper Johns sells for three million and one sells for, you know, like four hundred thousand. They were both good paintings.
to part two of the inteview