What Andy Warhol Didn't Do cont.
It has been alleged that the Norgus Self-Portraits were created in exchange for the loan of video equipment and/or in exchange for publicity and a promotional party. Callie Angell, author of the first volume of the Andy Warhol film catalogue raisonné, gave a more plausible reason for the loan of the equipment:
Callie Angell ("Andy Warhol: Outer and Inner Space," in From Stills to Motion and Back Again..., 2003, p. 15):
"...in August 1965, Tape Recording magazine arranged to lend him [Warhol] a high-quality Norelco video camera, tape recorder, and monitor for a period of one month, in exchange for an exclusive interview in which Warhol would report on his experiences and endorse the new medium. During this month of video access, Warhol shot at least eleven half-hour tapes..." (FS15)
According to Joe Simon-Whelan's Complaint, the equipment was not loaned to Warhol in exchange for an interview and his endorsement, but the other way round. Simon-Whelan claims that Warhol had to pay for the loan of the equipment (and the privilege of endorsing it) by giving away at least ten Self-Portraits. According to the Complaint, "Warhol intended the Ekstract Paintings [Norgus Self-Portraits] to be valuable consideration for his sole and exclusive use of the aforementioned video equipment, which Ekstract estimates was then worth approximately $16,000." (JSW5#96) The estimate of $16,000 is on the high side. The main piece of equipment that was loaned to Warhol was the video camera - a Norelco EL 8015/II model with a remote-controlled vidcam zoom lens. The retail price was $3,950.00. (FM228) The trade price would have been considerably less. Renting the equipment would have been a lot less.
It is alleged that in order to pay for the use of the equipment Warhol gave the acetate or acetates from his 1964 Self-Portraits to the editor of Tape Recording magazine, Richard Ekstract, who then gave them to Norgus who created a silk screen from the acetates and then printed a series of Self-Portraits, all with a red background. As previously noted, Herman Meyers, (who "helped Mr. Ekstract in the production of his extraordinary underground party for the world premiere of Andy's underground videotapes and the exhibition of the Self-Portraits") understood that "Andy had made an arrangement with Richard [Ekstract] to extend his loan of the Norelco video recorder and camera."
In other words, the Norgus Self-Portraits were not payment for the equipment but payment for the extension of a loan of the equipment. If the equipment had been loaned without charge in the first place, why would they need to pay for an extension of the loan? We are basically being asked to believe that Warhol effectively traded at least ten Self-Portraits in exchange for an extension on a loan of video equipment that he was endorsing on the cover of Tape Recording magazine. Meyers 'understood' that the Self-Portraits would also be exhibited at an "underground party."
The party took place at the same time that the New York High Fidelity Show was in town. An article about the party ("On Videotape From New York - The Underground Party That Was") in the Herald Tribune noted that "An underground party was given Wednesday night in honor of Andy Warhol... Host of the party was Dick Ekstract, editor and publisher of Tape Recording magazine. It was one of those marvelous blends of good fellowship and good business. The high fidelity trade show was in town. Andy Warhol had made some 'underground' tapes for one of the exhibitors at the show." If Warhol made the tapes for one of the exhibitors at the show - presumably Tape Recording magazine or Norelco - why would he have to pay anything to them? He was doing them a favour, not the other way round.
At some point during the New York High Fidelity Show, the video equipment was stolen. A report about the show in the Hi Fi Buyers Guide included a photograph of Warhol standing next to a security guard with the caption, "Andy Warhol, 'underground' cinematographer, discusses mysterious disappearance of his video recorder from Show premises." (JSW16) If the Self-Portraits were done to pay for an extension of the loan of the video equipment as suggested by Herman Meyers, the extension must have been for a very short time. Would Warhol have given away ten Self-Portraits in exchange for the use of a video camera for a short period of time? It's true that the camera was one of the first supposedly portable systems, but even so, ten Self-Portraits for a short extension on the loan of the equipment is difficult to believe. Although Warhol did sometimes trade a painting for a service, there is not a single other instance in which he produced an entire series of paintings to pay for a service.
Warhol was also featured on the front cover of Ekstract's magazine, Tape Recording, with the Norelco equipment and an interview was included inside the magazine in which Warhol extolled the virtues of the equipment i.e. endorsed it. Paul Morrissey referred to the cover photo in his 2002 statement:
"Andy approved the [Norgus] paintings well before the party. On one of the pages in the Herald Tribune coverage of the party it shows Andy on the cover of Richard Ekstract's magazine. The picture of Andy and Edie taken in front of the portrait was taken at the Factory well before the party..." (JSW6)
Here is a a photograph from the same photo session referred to by Morrissey:
It is unlikely that the Self-Portrait behind Andy and Edie is one of the Norgus Self-Portraits as Morrissey claims. The edges of the colour extending outside the border are soft and imperfect. The edges of the printed Norgus prints are harder - like a poster.
In his New York Review of Books article "What Andy Warhol Did," Richard Dorment uses Paul Morrissey's deposition from the Simon-Whelan case as one of his sources. Because of this I assume that the deposition is in the public domain and can be used by others as a source. It is pointed out to Paul during his deposition that Simon-Whelan, himself, had doubts about the Self-Portrait in the photograph.
"Mr. Morrissey, I'd like to direct your attention to the bottom e-mail which was sent by Mr. Ekstract to Mr. Simon. And you'll see it reads, 'thank you for your e-mail. Notwithstanding these entries, please recall the documented statement by Paul Morrissey of the arrangement Warhol made with me for his use of video equipment.' Do you see that?"
"Yes, I see it."
"And if you look up to Mr. Simon's response to Mr. Ekstract, four lines down it starts, 'let's keep each other informed.' Do you see that? 'Let's keep each other informed. Paul's statement is full of holes as he claimed that the picture in the Tape mag was one of the trades but it has been established that it was not. It was the blue linen Self-Portrait which is now in the Warhol Museum. Not sure how important that is.' Did you see that Mr. Morrissey?"
"Mr. Morrissey, has Mr. Simon ever informed you that he does not believe the painting in the tape magazine is from the same series of paintings from which his - the painting he owns?"
"No. I don't see how it could not be from the stuff done by Ekstract for the party...."
Richard Dorment also refers to the Self-Portraits being displayed at the party. He writes, "The pictures [the Norgus series] were exhibited, with Warhol present at a party Ekstract gave on September 29, 1965, to celebrate the premiere of Warhol's first video with Edie Sedgwick and to launch Ekstract's magazine, Tape Recording.' (JSW9)
But photos of the party published in the Herald Tribune do not show any of the Self-Portraits on display. Nobody has ever produced a photo of the party which shows any of the Self-Portraits. And even if they were displayed, it seems likely that they were displayed as "reproductions" (as Herman Meyers referred to them) and not as the radically innovative works of art that Dorment claims they were.
According to Morrissey, it was only after the party that Warhol agreed to give away the Self-Portraits. In his 2002 statement, he says:
"Since the party was over I asked [Warhol] if the images were going to Leo Castelli. No, he said that they would be useful to trade for things, or to give to prospective buyers as gifts, or if a magazine wanted a picture of him, as it was better if we supplied a painted portrait instead of a photo. I also know that Andy continued to deal directly with Richard Ekstract for other small audiotape recorders but do not recall what that arrangement was as it was quite small." (JSW6)
This is considerably different than Dorment's claim that Morrissey said the paintings were for the loan of equipment. When specifically asked during his deposition whether the paintings were exchanged for the loan of the equipment or the party Morrissey gives a confusing answer.
"So part of the deal was that a specific number of paintings would be made for Mr. Ekstract in exchange for the video camera and the party; is that correct?"
"The paintings were in the exchange. The paintings were done for the party; okay? You get the Norelco if you pose for a picture with it for a magazine. That was the deal. The paintings were not part of the deal except Andy said yes, use them for the party and said you could keep them. Okay? That's the kind of deal it was. Next question." (JSW14)
Morrissey says that the paintings were in exchange for the party, that they "were done for the party." But he then says "You get the Norelco if you pose for a picture with it for a magazine."
In other words, Morrissey is saying that Warhol did the paintings for the party and that if Warhol posed with the Norelco video equipment, then Norelco would give him the video equipment. That sounds like your normal celebrity endorsement deal - i.e. if Warhol endorses the equipment by being photographed with it, Norelco will give him the equipment in exchange for his endorsement. Despite having read Morrissey's deposition, Richard Dorment writes in the pages of the New York Review of Books that the Norgus Self-Portraits were created and given away "in exchange for the use of expensive Norelco video equipment" - the complete opposite of what Morrissey says in his deposition. Morrissey says that Warhol was paid for his endorsement by being given the equipment and Dorment says that Warhol paid for the loan of the equipment by giving away ten or more Self-Portraits.
Warhol mentions the equipment and the party for the equipment in POPism. His comments indicate that the equipment was loaned in exchange for his endorsement rather than the other way round:
Andy Warhol (via Pat Hackett in POPism):
"Norelco gave me this machine to play with. Then they gave a party for it. Then they took it away. The idea was for me to show it to my 'rich friends' (it sold for around five thousand dollars) and sort of get them to buy one... The party for the machine was held underground... Also being promoted at this party was a magazine called Tape that was just starting up - and just finishing up, too, as it turned out. It was print supplemented by cassette tapes that you were supposed to play while you read, only it never caught on." (POP119-20)
In other words, Norelco loaned Warhol the equipment in exchange for his endorsement - so that he could "show it to" his rich friends and "get them to buy one." No mention is made of Self-Portraits. If Norelco was letting Warhol use the equipment so that he could endorse it and show it to his rich friends, there was no reason for Warhol to pay them with Self-Portraits.
Another reason that Paul Morrissey offered for the creation of the Norgus Self-Portraits was that they were used in exchange for doing a promotional party. Morrissey made the claim in the 2006 BBC documentary Warhol: Denied:
Paul Morrissey (Warhol: Denied, BBC, 2006)
"Andy accepted it [Simon-Whelan's Self Portrait] as one of his and he gave it in exchange - he said you can keep the paintings in exchange for doing the party. The party was a wonderful success for Andy because he got a half of page in the Herald Tribune. This is what we lived for - to get in the newspapers."
There is not a single other instance of Warhol creating and giving away a whole series of paintings in exchange for a party or publicity during his lifetime. Tape Recording magazine had more to gain by having Warhol on the cover than Warhol did by appearing on the front cover. It was a magazine with a limited circulation of technophobes which Warhol notes in POPism, "never caught on." The Herald Tribune coverage would have appealed to Warhol but he didn't need to pay for a party in order to get coverage in a newspaper. By mid-1965 Warhol was a well-known artist and celebrity. Other press that year included a large feature in the Sunday Herald Tribune, a fashion spread in Life magazine featuring Warhol's superstars and articles on Edie Sedgwick in the New York Times, the New York Post and Life magazine. No Self-Portraits changed hands in exchange for that publicity and no parties were involved.
In regard to the claim that Warhol traded the paintings for a loan of video equipment, if that is true then somebody at Norelco must have got some of the paintings. Norelco were, after all, the manufacturers of the equipment and were loaning it to Warhol. But the paintings appear to have gone to Richard Ekstract and his colleagues.
In the BBC documentary Morrissey also appears to say that Warhol continued to make Self-Portraits from the same silk screen that the Norgus Self-Portraits were from.
Paul Morrissey (Warhol: Denied, BBC, 2006):
"This silk screen [Joe Simon-Whalen's print] was made on the understanding by me and Richard Ekstract that it would be silk screens of Andy's that were done at a silk screen factory and used for a party and after the party was over the silk screen would be returned to Andy and he would use it to make further silk screens which he did."
Morrissey's use of the term "silk screen" is slightly confusing. Is he alleging that the actual screens were returned to the Factory and that further silk screened paintings were created from them? That would contradict Ekstract and the printer who say they got acetates or "film positives" from Warhol rather than the actual screens. Morrissey is incorrect when he says Warhol made further silk screened paintings from the same screens. Warhol only used that particular image for his 1964 Self-Portraits - the year before the Norgus series was done. He would paint his next series of Self Portraits in 1966 using a completely different image. Also, note also the word "understanding" again. How did Morrissey and Ekstract come to the "understanding" that the prints would be by Andy? Morrissey doesn't say that Warhol actually gave him and Ekstract the screens, just that he and Ekstract made the paintings with the understanding that they would be considered to be by Warhol.
Although Warhol never mentioned the Norgus series during his lifetime, he did mention the Norelco equipment and was photographed with it. There are transcripts of tape-recorded conversations about the equipment but none of the transcripts include any mention of the Self-Portraits.