September 14, 2019: Duchamp's Pipe: A Chess Romance. Marcel Duchamp & George Koltanowski by Celia Rabinovitch is due to be published by North Atlantic Books and Penguin in February 2020. The book offers a fascinating perspective on world events over three decades of the chess-playing friendship of Duchamp and Koltanowski. They first met in 1923 - a year before the publication of André Breton's first Manifesto of Surrealism. During the 1940s they were both World War II refugees in the United States, founding the Greenwich Village Chess Club in 1943. Duchamp gave Koltanowski his carved smoking pipe after losing a private chess match with him in 1944.
Top row: ©1972 David Weisman CIAO! MANHATTAN photo by Terry Stevenson, 1967. Original 1965 Polaroid from DAVID WEISMAN COLLECTION. ©1972 David Weisman CIAO! MANHATTAN photo by Terry Stevenson, 1967. Bottom row: Photo by Bob Adelman, 1965. Edie Sedgwick in 1947 from the SEDGWICK FAMILY ALBUMS courtesy of Suky Sedgwick and Leila Minturn Dwight. Photo by Burt Glinn, 1965.
The Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Santa Barbara has ruled that the "publicity rights" to "Edie Sedgwick" belong to David Weisman, and not to her husband Michael Post. Weisman was the co-producer of the non-Warhol film, Ciao! Manhattan, starring Edie Sedgwick.
In her decision, Judge Geck had to consider whether Edie was a "deceased personality" at the time of her death - similar to celebrities like Elvis, for instance. She concluded "None of the film or activities that Edie engaged at the Warhol Factory during the short distinct period of April 1965 through November 1965 were commercial, for which she ever received monetary compensation. During that time, Edie appeared in editorial articles in a few New York publications including Vogue and Time, but she never was compensated for any such appearances in modelling or news publications." (Decision, p. 4)
When Edie died,her estate consisted of two assets: Cash in the sum of $3,807.73 and 2) 65 shares of Capital Stock of Western Independent Corporation. Post received her assets, but it did not include publicity rights because none were listed. Because she had not been paid for her Warhol films or her magazine work, there was no evidence that at the time of her death, she had a commercial value. She was not, therefore a "deceased personality" according to the legal definition of such. As noted by Judge Geck, the Court finds that "Edie Sedgwick was not a deceased personality under California Civil Code section 3344.1 because her publicity rights did not have commercial value at the time of or as a result of her death on November 16,1971..." (Judgment, p.2).
According to Judge Geck, Edie signed away her "publicity rights" prior to her death to David Weisman. (Judgment, p. 2) A clause in the Ciao! contract specified the following: "ARTIST hereby grants PRODUCER all rights, worldwide, in perpetuity, in all media and in all means whether presently known or unknown, to the results and proceeds of ARTIST'S services, and grants PRODUCER the right to utilize ARTIST'S name, likeness and biography in connection with advertising or publicizing the motion picture CIAO! MANHATTAN."
The Judge noted that the plain language of the Ciao! contract assigns to Plaintiff "all rights, worldwide, in perpetuity.... as well as an assignment of Sedgwick's publicity rights for Plaintiff's exploitation in connection with Ciao! Manhattan." (p. 12) In other words, the producer (Weisman) was granted "all rights" in perpetuity and not just the rights in relation to his film. In her judgment the Judge specifically mentions that those rights include the "rights to her [Edie's] biography in addition to her publicity rights." (Judgment, p. 2)
The Judgment is a far-reaching decision which means, presumably, that Weisman would have to grant permission to anyone wanting to use Edie's likeness in films or books. I'm not sure what ramifications, if any, this would have for a project like the new Warhol docuseries being made by Ryan Murphy, assuming that Mr. Murphy is including Edie as a character.
The battle over Edie's rights has been going on for some time. Between 2009-2010 a claim was brought against Michael Post in the California Superior Court, Santa Barbara by Edie's niece, Leila Minturn Dwight, with the support of Edie's four sisters (Alice, Pamela, Kate and Suky) and her one surviving brother, Jonathan Sedgwick. The case was dropped before it went to trial.
Between 2011-2014, Weisman brought a claim in U.S. Federal Court against both Michael Post and Sanrio (exclusive licensee of Warhol Foundation in Japan). Part of this case was settled, as covered in the Hollywood Reporter. Immediately afterwards, in October 2014, Weisman filed a further claim in California State Court for a declaratory judgment in regard to the ownership of "publicity rights." It was finally resolved in David Weisman's favour, with the current Court Judgment, as outlined in this article.
September 9, 2019: Warhol biographer, Blake Gopnik will be giving a talk on A is for Archive - the book that Matt Wrbican wrote before he died on the Warhol Museum's archive. Blake will be accompanied by Matt's successor, Erin Byrne, and they will be presenting a number of interesting objects and documents from the archive. (R.I.P. Matt - I miss your emails.)
The talk will take place at the Carnegie Library Lecture Hall on September 12, 2019 at 7 pm - details here.
From the introduction to the interview: "In 1982 Pivar helped found the New York Academy of Art alongside Andy Warhol; Epstein would later serve on the academy’s board, which is how he came to meet, in 1995, an aspiring artist named Maria Farmer, who was 25 at the time. In an affidavit filed in April, Farmer said she and her 15-year-old sister were sexually assaulted by Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of soliciting young girls on Epstein’s behalf. (Maxwell has repeatedly denied accusations of sexual abuse and sex trafficking.)" See Leland Nally, "Jeffrey Epstein, My Very, Very Sick Pal," Mother Jones.
Ray Johnson, 1967 (Photo: Bill Wilson)
August 22, 2019: Ellen Levy will be giving a lecture on Ray Johnson and Andy Warhol on November 14, 2019. The lecture, "Art stars, Superstars, Deathstars: The Art of Fame in Ray Johnson & Andy Warhol," will take place at the Halsy Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston at 7:00 pm.
Front cover of Warhol by Blake Gopnik
August 13, 2019: Blake Gopnik's 960 page biography of Andy Warhol will be published in the U.K. before the U.S. in order to coincide with the Tate Modern's six month Warhol exhibition next year. It will be published in February 2020 by Penguin in the U.K. and in April 2020 by Ecco Press in the U.S. (an imprint of HarperCollins).
Simply titled Warhol (not to be confused with David Bourdon's book of the same name), the carefully researched and extensively footnoted biography contains a considerable amount of new information about the artist.
Pre-orders in the States are being accepted by the U.S. publisher or the usual outlets, such as Amazon. (The U.K. site of Amazon is listing the April publication date, but I have been assured that the book is coming out in February in the U.K.)
Jerome Hill (1931), (Photographer: Edward Weston), Collection Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona © 1981 Arizona Board of Regents (MAC) ("Living the Arts," Jerome Foundation, 2005)
July 14, 2019: Jonas Mekas' film, Notes for Jerome, will be shown during the Jonas Mekas tribute on July 16, 2019. The footage was shot at Jerome Hill's home in Cassis. Hill and his younger boyfriend Charles Rydell were owners of Interview magazine in 1970-1971. When Andy Warhol shot Blow Job he initially asked Charles if he would be the person getting the blow job but Charles never showed up for the shoot and Warhol had to use DeVeren Bookwalter instead. (See "Andy Warhol's Blow Job")
The Living Theatre also performed at the amphitheatre at Cassis - Theatre de la Mer (Jerome Hill Greek Theater). The Cassis performance of The Living Theatre is the one that took place in late July 1966 which was famously heckled by Warhol star Taylor Mead (see "Jerome Hill and Charles Rydell," p. 2).
Mekas describes Notes for Jerome as follows:
During the summer of 1966 I spent two months in Cassis, as a guest of Jerome Hill. I visited him briefly again in 1967, with P. Adams Sitney. The footage of this film comes from those two visits. Later, after Jerome died, I visited his Cassis home in 1974. Footage of that visit constitutes the epilogue of the film. Other people appear in the film, all friends of Jerome: Taylor Mead, Bernadette Lafont, Charles Rydell, Barbara Stone and David Stone and their children; Noel Burch, Judith Malina and Julian Beck and the Living Theater collective, Ms. Chaliapin, Jean Jacques Lebel, Michael Fontayne; Alec Wilder, P. Adams Sitney and Julie Sitney and Jerome's perhaps closest and oldest friend, whose name I forgot, but whom he always called Rosebud. The soundtrack was practically all recorded during the same period, during the same visits to Cassis. Piano improvisations are Jerome's and Taylor Mead's; the soloist (Monteverdi's 'Lasciatemi morire!' and Giordani's 'Caromioben') is Charles Rydell's practicing, in Cassis; the ocean and most of the wind is the late summer mistal; and so are the cicadas, street music, scooters, motorboats, birds, and my own sing-songing. The text of my Lithuanian 'song' is, in translation, 'the sun is setting, the sky is red, I am sitting by the sea and I am singing by myself.' Those were lonely summers for me, I thought a lot about home. That's why this film, this elegy for Jerome is dedicated 'to the wind of Lithuania.' Sometimes, though, I had a feeling that Jerome was as much of an exile as was I. (JMF) ("Jerome Hill and Charles Rydell.")
July 11, 2019: The Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London has defended the Sackler family against the accusations made against them by photographer Nan Goldin and others. "We’re proud to have been supported by the Sacklers,” he said on BBC Radio yesterday. According to the press pack distributed by her U.S. gallery, Goldin was obtaining an opioid, OxyContin, illegally after her doctors refused to prescribe it to her. One branch of the Sackler family has an investment in Purdue Pharma which makes the drug - an important pain reliever for patients suffering from chronic and terminal illnesses. (See Nan Goldin vs. The Sacklers.)
July 7, 2019: Art writer and AIDS activist, Douglas Crimp, died on July 5, 2019. Crimp's memoir, Before Pictures, was published in 2016. I didn't know Crimp but we both knew of each other through Andy Warhol's scriptwriter, Ron Tavel, who wrote me in 2008: "Douglas Crimp is Head of Humanities at Rochester U. He made his rep as an architectural theorist (THE MUSEUM AND ITS RUINS) and went on to Queer Theory. While investigating transvestites, their use and meaning, he came upon my work and started to write about it. He's easily the deepest thinker who's turned his attention to my efforts." (RT to GC, "Re: Continuing," 4 June 2008) I ended up putting Crimp's essay on Tavel on my site.
My commiseration to Crimp's family and friends. In addition to educating his readers about art, he also educated them about AIDS. From 1977 to 1990, he was an editor of the journal October and in 1987 he edited the October special issue on AIDS, entitled AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism.