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April 2009

(to Current News | March 2009)

New book by Andy Warhol's nephew to be published in July 2009

A new children's book about Andy Warhol and his cats, Uncle Andy's Cats, by Warhol's nephew James Warhola, is to be published in July 2009.

Warhola worked for Interview magazine at one point but left to do science fiction illustration and has since done the cover art for more than 300 books. He has also done illustrations and covers for Mad magazine. His previous book was Uncle Andy's: A Faabbbulous Visit With Andy Warhol.

"Degenerate dope-pushers, lesbians and homosexuals" at the Anthology Film Archives on Easter Sunday

The Anthology Film Archives in New York will be screening Andy Warhol's The Chelsea Girls - described in the original 1966 New York Times review as a "morbidly exhibitionistic film" of "degenerate dope-pushers, lesbians and homosexuals" - on Easter Sunday as part of their Chelsea Hotel tribute.

From the "The Underground Overflows" by Bosley Crowther (New York Times, December 11, 1966):

"It has come time to wag a warning finger at Andy Warhol and his underground friends, and tell them, politely but firmly, that they are pushing a reckless thing too far.

It was all right so long as these adventurers in the realm of independent cinema stayed in Greenwich Village or on the south side of 42nd Street and splattered their naughty-boy pictures on congenial basement screens... But now that their underground has surfaced on West 57th Street and taken over a theater with carpets, the Cinema Rendezvous, where they have installed Mr. Warhol's most ambitious peep-show put-on, The Chelsea Girls, it is time for permissive adults to stop winking at their too-precocious pranks...

So let's get it said without quibbling that this seamy The Chelsea Girls is really nothing more than an extensive and pretentious entertainment for voyeurs... And what it looks at are manifestations of a very small segment of New York life - the lower level of degenerate dope-pushers, lesbians and homosexuals, as distinct from the upper level perverts who are obviously outside the interest of this morbidly exhibitionistic film."

One of the "degenerates" in The Chelsea Girls was Brigid Berlin - daughter of media magnate Richard Berlin and his socialite wife, Honey.

Brigid Berlin:

"So Chelsea Girls opened in a movie theatre and it was the first underground movie to come above ground. I was in Roosevelt Hospital - my always hospital - with either hepatitis or I was on a diet - and my father sent over Time magazine and the review of The Chelsea Girls and in it, it said 'Brigid Berlin, daughter of Richard E. Berlin, president of the Hearst Corporation, played the lesbian pill pusher dyke in Chelsea Girls.' And I am sitting there flipping out that this has come above ground - 57th Street - and I'm on 58th Street in Roosevelt Hospital..." (BB)

The Time magazine review of the film did not identify Brigid specifically, although it is likely that other news publications did.

From "Nuts from Underground" (Time magazine, December 30, 1966)

"The Chelsea Girls. Andy Warhol, the 38-year-old poppa of pop art, is also the Cecil B. DeSade of underground cinema. In the past 3 1/2 years he has made over 60 films that range in length from three minutes to eight hours and in depth from below the belt to beneath discussion. Such films have traditionally been shown in private or at pot-art parties, but Chelsea Girls is currently on view for a $3 admission charge at a mid-Manhattan theater. What the cutomers are seeing is a very dirty and very dull peep show. Or rather, two of them - Warhol runs two films side by side on the screen simultaneously. The characters are all homosexuals and junkies, and they spend most of their screen time lying around and trying to think of something to say or do.

When they do think of something, it is pretty sure to be infantile. A couple of sacked-out homosexuals in dirty underwear fondle each other incuriously. Another homosexual does a striptease. One lesbian beats another with a big- buckled belt. Another lesbian who is also a junkie jabs herself in the buttock with a hypodermic. A faggot who calls himself 'the Pope' advises a lesbian to sneak into church and do something obscene to the figure on the cross—'It'll do you good.'

There is a place for this sort of thing, and it is definitely underground. Like in a sewer."

Clive Phillpot and Stewart Home panel discussion at Ray Johnson exhibition at Raven Row

Clive Phillpot and Stewart Home will be speaking at Raven Row in London on April 22, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. in conjunction with Raven Row's current Ray Johnson exhibition. The event is free but spaces need to be booked in advance.

An article on Ray Johnson and mail art by Clive Phillpot can be found here.

An article on Fluxus by Clive Phillpot can be found here.

Ray Johnson... Dali/Warhol/and others... 'Main Ray, Ducham, Openheim, Pikabia' at the Feigen Gallery in New York

A Ray Johnson collage included in a previous exhibition at the Feigen Gallery appearing on the gallery's website as "Untitled (Cupid with Saluting Person Candy Darling), 1974" (The Warhol star referenced in the work is actually Jackie Curtis)

"Ray Johnson... Dali/Warhol/and others... 'Main Ray, Ducham, Openheim, Pikabia'" - an exhibition promising to "reveal the shared interests and iconography of Ray Johnson, Salvador Dali, and Andy Warhol" - will open at the Feigen Gallery in New York on April 29 and run until July 31, 2009. An illustrated catalogue, including an essay by the curator Frédérique Joseph-Lowery, will accompany the show.

Ray Johnson was a friend of Warhol, Billy Name and Dorothy Podber (the woman who shot a hole through Warhol's Marilyns) and made references to Warhol stars such as Candy Darling, Andrea Feldman and Jackie Curtis in his work. When Warhol was asked by Glenn O'Brien in 1977 who he thought the "world's greatest living artist" was, Warhol mentioned Johnson as one of them, saying "I really like them all. Rauschenberg and Twombly and Paul Klee. Dead ones too? And I like American primitive painters. I just like everyone, every group. Grant Wood, Ray Johnson." (KG238) When asked "What about Dali?" in the same interview, Warhol responded, "I don't think getting your name around means that you make a lot of money." (KG238)

According to the Feigen Gallery, their show will include an "exciting selection of previously unexhibited collages by Johnson." Meanwhile, in London, the Ray Johnson mega-exhibition continues at Alex Sainsbury's new non-profit art space, Raven Row, until May 10, 2009.

John Giorno talk and workshop in Calgary

Andy Warhol's ex-lover and star of Sleep, the poet John Giorno, will be giving a talk and workshop at the Calgary International Spoken Word Festival in Calgary, Canada on April 4th and 5th.

Giorno is also quoted in an article titled "Disquieting and Enraptured: On Pierre Bonnard" by Barry Schwabsky in the April 20, 2009 edition of The Nation:

More than a century later, a very different yet equally salient figure of American culture also embodied, in his own way, Asian wisdom without knowing it. According to the poet John Giorno, who worked closely with Andy Warhol, "Andy in a sense was a Buddhist and he understood intuitively, at least in the years I knew him in the 1960s, the nature of emptiness. He just came from it."

Details of the Giorno events can be found at: here.

Andy Warhol T.V. at the Maison Rouge

An exhibition of Warhol's television programs, curated by Judith Benhamou-Huet, is taking place at the Maison Rouge in Paris until May 3, 2009. An exhibition catalogue in a magazine format accompanies the show. Details and film clip here.

Ronald Tavel

Ronald Tavel (L), Jack Smith, unidentified man, filmmaker Harry Smith, Panna Grady, William S. Burroughs and Andy Warhol at the El Quijote restaurant located on the ground floor of the Chelsea Hotel (a door from the Chelsea leads to the restaurant and there is a separate street entrance to the restaurant next to the front door of the Chelsea) (Photographer unknown, 1965)

Ronald Tavel died on Monday, March 23, 2009 while returning home to Bangkok from a LIVE! FILM (jack smith) conference in Berlin.

Tavel wrote the scripts or "scenarios" for many of Warhol's early films (in addition to appearing in many of them) including Screen Test, Screen Test #2, Suicide, The Life of Juanita Castro, Horse, Vinyl, Kitchen, Space, Hedy, and the “Hanoi Hanna, Radio Star” and “Their Town” sequences of The Chelsea Girls. Screen Test #2, The Life of Juanita Castro, and Vinyl were also performed as stage plays. Ron's last appearance in the U.K. was in 1999 when he introduced a film screening organised by Mark Webber.

Details and tributes can be found on his "superstar page" here.

Tavel's New York Times obituary can be found here. His Village Voice obituary can be found here. A letter from the LIVE! FILM organizers can be found here. A joint press release from the Arsenal Institute and the Hebbel-am-ufer Theater can be found here. A lecture by Douglas Crimp ("Coming Together to Stay Apart") on the scripts that Ronald Tavel wrote for Andy Warhol can be found here.

Tavel touched many people's lives, including my own, and will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace.

Ronald Tavel (from his novel Street of Stairs):

"Let it suffice to say, then, that it was a pure and absolute terror, a great, great terror, and something in its aftercourse I'm grateful for. It was, I am certain, one of those peaks of existence they speak of - as detached, sufficient, and extreme as any - and I have known it, reached it, and into its complete beauty. And after this, how can I possibly be afraid again?"

Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp

Andy Warhol's Screen Test of Marcel Duchamp is being shown at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. as part of their “Inventing Marcel Duchamp: The Dynamics of Portraiture” exhibition which opened on March 27th and runs until August 2, 2009.

See: "New Smithsonian exhibit shows Marcel Duchamp’s influence on Warhol, Jasper Johns."

And: "Notes on Marcel Duchamp."

Warhol, Koons and Hirst: Sold Out at the Tate Modern

Works by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst will be exhibited at the Tate Modern in London as part of their "Sold Out" exhibition which will run from October 1, 2009 - January 17, 2010. The exhibition will focus on branding, self-promotion and art and commerce and will also include work by Martin Kippenberger, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince and David Hammons.

Is Chelsea on the Rocks on the rocks?

Grace Jones in Chelsea on the Rocks
(Photo: Marzia Schirripa/Deerjen Films)

The U.S. premiere of Abel Ferrara's new film about the Chelsea Hotel, Chelsea on the Rocks, was pulled from the Anthology Film Archives in March. An Anthology press release notes, "Anthology Film Archives regretfully announces that it will not be able to open the new feature CHELSEA ON THE ROCKS for its premiere engagement, which had been scheduled to screen daily from March 20 to 26. Anthology has been informed that the distributor with whom it booked the film, Empire Film Group / Hannover House, has decided not to, or is unable to, follow through on its plans to represent the film. The producers have thus canceled the engagement despite the prior commitment for the NY Theatrical Premiere which was announced by Anthology. Citing contractual reasons, the producers have declined to honor this commitment." (See here)

The film is part documentary, part reenactment of famous Chelsea Hotel residents/events with a cast that includes Viva's daughter, Gaby Hoffmann (Viva was living at the Chelsea when Gaby was born) as well as Chelsea resident Ethan Hawke; Grace Jones (as Chelsea resident "Bev"); Bijou Phillips as Nancy Spungeon; and Shannyn Leigh as Janis Joplin. Also included is archival footage of Andy Warhol, William Burroughs, Jerry Garcia, Lance Loud and Quintin Crisp.

The film was reviewed by film blogger, Karina Longworth, when it was shown at Cannes last year - see here.

The official website for Chelsea on the Rocks is here.

Emile de Antonio's Painters Painting to be released on DVD in April

Painters Painting DVD front cover
(Correct title is Painters Painting - without the apostrophe)

Emile de Antonio's documentary Painters Painting will, at last, be released on DVD in April 2009 - original VHS copies of this classic documentary are currently selling for up to $300+ on Amazon. The director of the film, Emile de Antonio (star of Andy Warhol's Drink) was one of the founders, along with Jonas Mekas, of the New American Cinema Group and was introduced to Warhol by Tina Fredericks - the woman who commissioned one of Warhol's first commercial illustration jobs in 1949. In POPism: The Warhol Sixties, Warhol (via Pat Hackett) credits de Antonio with encouraging him to drop Abstract Expressionist elements from his early Pop works.

Andy Warhol:

The person I got my art training from was Emile de Antionio - when I first met De, I was a commercial artist. In the sixties he became known for his films on Nixon and McCarthy, but back in the fifties he was an artists' agent... At five o'clock one particular afternoon the doorbell rang and De came in and sat down. I poured Scotch for us, and then I went over to where two paintings I'd done, each about six feet high and three feet wide, were propped, facing the wall. I turned them around and placed them side by side against the wall and then I backed away to take a look at them myself. One of them was a Coke bottle with Abstract Expressionist hash marks halfway up the side. The second one was just a stark, outlined Coke bottle in black and white. I didn't say a thing to De. I didn't have to - he knew what I wanted to know.

'Well, look Andy,' he said after staring at them for a couple of minutes. 'One of these is a piece of shit, simply a little bit of everything the other is remarkable - it's our society, it's who we are, it's absolutely beautiful and naked, and you ought to destroy the first one and show the other.'

That afternoon was an important one for me.

I can't even count the number of people after that day who when they saw my paintings burst out laughing. But De never thought Pop was a joke." (POP3/5-6)

De Antonio's film documents the Metropolitan Museum of Art's centennial exhibition, "New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940-1970" curated by Henry Geldzahler which opened on October 18, 1969. Artists included in the exhibition who were interviewed for the film include Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Jasper Johns, Robert Motherwell, Club founder Philip Pavia, Robert Rauschenberg, Jules Olitski, Ethel and Robert Scull, and Frank Stella. It was in this documentary that Warhol claimed that "Brigid [Berlin] does all my paintings... Brigid has been doing my paintings for the last three years." (PP121)

The Amazon page for the DVD can be found here.

Viva at Bert Green

Bert Green Fine Art in Los Angeles is hosting an exhibition of work by Andy Warhol superstar Viva from March 12 - April 25, 2009.

The gallery's press release can be found at: here.

Update: New Scherman/Dalton book is a biography of Andy Warhol

The new Warhol book mentioned here last month, Pop: The Genius of Andy Warhol, is the biography that Tony Scherman began researching over three years ago. The 500+ page book is now due to be published in November 2009 with text by both Scherman and David Dalton. The Amazon listing for the book is here.

Media preview of Sotheby's "Women" to take place on April Fool's Day

The media preview of Sotheby's exhibition of paintings on loan from the collection of Steven and Alexandra Cohen will take place on April 1, 2009. The (non-sale) exhibition, "Women," will include both Andy Warhol's Turquoise Marilyn (purchased by the Cohens in 2007 for about $80 million) and Willem de Kooning's Woman III (purchased in 2006 for $137.5 million) in addition to work by Vincent Van Gogh, Cindy Sherman, Edward Munch and others. (More on de Kooning's "Women" paintings here. )

When asked in 1966 about his early Pop work, Warhol indicated that he started painting Marilyn and other celebrities not because he was obsessed with celebrity but because they represented "death."

Andy Warhol:

"I also did movie stars - Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Troy Donahue - during my 'death' period. Marilyn Monroe died then. I felt that Elizabeth Taylor was going to die too, after her operation. I thought that there were a lot of people who were going to die - like Troy Donahue."

The press release for the Sotheby's show, which opens to the public on April 2, 2009 (free entry), can be found here.

(to Current News | March 2009)

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