home - news - about - superstars - interviews - articles - soup can - films - art - timeline - abstract expressionism - sources - citations

December 2008

(to current news | November 2008)

New London Art Gallery to open with Ray Johnson exhibition

Raven Row, a major new art gallery located at 56 Artillery Lane in London's East End, will open in February 2009 with an exhibition of work by Ray Johnson. (See: Ray Johnson: Raven Row: 28 February - 10 May 2009.)

Johnson was a friend of Warhol (assisting him on the film Jill Johnston Dancing) and knew many of the Factory regulars. Among the Warhol stars whose images Ray Johnson incorporated in his own work were Andrea Feldman, Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling. Hailed as "New York's most famous unknown artist" by New York Times critic Grace Glueck in 1965, Johnson committed suicide in January 1995.

The exhibition of Johnson's work at Raven Row includes pieces from the Richard L. Feigen Gallery in New York and the William S. Wilson Collection.

The website of Raven Row is here.

50th Anniversary production of The Connection to open at The Living Theatre on New Years Eve

The Living Theatre in New York will be presenting a 50th anniversary production of one of their most controversial plays, The Connection, beginning on December 31, 2008. The new production of the play, first performed in 1959, will be directed by Judith Malina who co-founded The Living Theatre with Julian Beck. During the 1950s and early 1960s, The Living Theatre was known for its cutting-edge theatrical productions where the boundaries between art [theatre] and life were blurred as actors were encouraged to improvise around loose scenarios - just as Warhol would later encourage improvisation in his films around nebulous storylines with the characters taking precedence over the events portrayed.

From Playing Underground by Stephen J. Bottoms:

Despite being dismissed as a 'farrago of dirt' by the New York Times for its frank exploration of the lives of a group of New York heroin addicts... the play [The Connection] became something of a cause célèbre... Gelber's play effectively adapted the influence of Waiting for Godot to the realities of New York low-life: a racially mixed group of junkies... hang around in Leach's run-down apartment, passing time with idle talk and activities while waiting for their 'connection' to arrive. Unlike Godot, the connection - a dealer named Cowboy - does in fact show up, and administers heroin to all and sundry in the offstage toilet... The intrigue of The Connection lies not in its language but in its conceptual structure... the junkies' behaviour is metatheatrically framed, from the start, by the use of two other characters identified as the playwright and the producer, who speak to the audience from the stage, explaining that they have assembled a cast of authentic heroin addicts, rather than mere actors, and that they will not simply be speaking pre-scripted lines, but improvising in the manner of jazz musicians around a loose scenario... Such provocations may well have prompted spectators to wonder whether something illegal was in fact going on under the guise of fictional drama. Indeed, production anecdotes suggest that some members of Freddie Redd's quartet - the jazz ensemble who played onstage during the performance - were indeed drug users, and that, on occasion, one or other of them would pass out, for real, during the performance. (SB28-9)

Although not in The Connection, Warhol stars who were involved with The Living Theatre included Billy Name, Taylor Mead, James Waring (Haircut #1) and Freddy Herko. Warhol's first superstar, Naomi Levine recalls that it was at The Living Theatre that she first met Warhol.

Naomi Levine:

"I had met Gerry Malanga and Wynn Chamberlain at a party, and we had spent a couple of days together. Gerry wanted me to meet Andy, so he and Wynn and John Giorno and Andy had me meet them all at the Living Theatre. They were all in tuxedos, and we went to an opening at the Museum of Modern Art." (JW105)

Rufus Collins, one of the few black people to appear in Warhol's films, was also a member of The Living Theatre during the 1960s. The Warhol films that Collins appeared in included two Screen Tests, Kiss, Batman Dracula, Soap Opera and Couch.

Callie Angell:

"The actor Rufus Collins, whose friendship with Warhol began in the 1950s, trained at the Actors Studio in New York and was a member of the Living Theatre in the 1960s... Collins was also one of the earliest stars of Warhol's cinema, beginning in August 1963 with Naomi and Rufus Kiss, the film from which Warhol's Plexiglas sculpture The Large Kiss was derived... Later in his career, Collins played a Transylvanian in the cult feature The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and had a few small roles in more mainstream pictures such as Shock Treatment (1981) and The Hunger (1983). He settled in Europe, dying from AIDS in Holland in 1996." (AD54)

[Note: The title of Warhol's sculpture The Large Kiss (referred to above in the quote from Callie Angell) was presumably alluding to Marcel Duchamp's Large Glass - another example of the connection between Warhol and Duchamp. In addition to films that Andy Warhol made with Duchamp as a subject, Warhol's Most Wanted Men series (1964) has also been linked to Marcel Duchamp's Wanted: $2,000 by Reva Wolf in Andy Warhol, Poetry, and Gossip in the 1960s (p. 23). And just as Duchamp "retired" from painting in the 1920s, Warhol announced his retirement from painting during a trip to Paris in 1965. Billy Name recalls "Andy Warhol did announce his 'retirement' from painting as a response to Duchamp's action and he did it when he was in Paris - Duchampland. It may well be that Andy attributed his works to Brigid [Berlin], and also Ultra [Violet] at one point, in response to the Rose Selavy (eros, c'est la vie) routine. The Duchamp-like announcement was once known as such to insiders in the art world at one point (like Henry Geldzahler). (August 28, 2008)]

Gerhard Richter's JFK trilogy at the National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery in London will be exhibiting Gerhard Richter's series of JFK portraits together for the first time as part of their "Gerhard Richter Portraits" show which opens on February 26, 2009. Richter has been referred to as the "German Andy Warhol."

Andy Warhol: Headlines at LACMA

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is currently planning an exhibition titled "Andy Warhol: Headlines" to be held February 25 - May 16, 2010. The museum's blurb for the show notes: "Andy Warhol’s Boy for Meg (1962) launched a series of major works, spanning until 1968 that drew from the headlines. The complete group of headline works totals approximately thirty-five pieces and ranges from prints and drawings to paintings and sculpture. The pairing of the original headlines with their transformations into works of art will reveal the artist’s own editorial process—his choices about what to include, what to change, and what to enlarge—showcasing his own talents as a graphic designer."

New publication date for Gary Indiana's Warhol book

Gary Indiana's book Andy Warhol and The Can that Sold the World, originally scheduled to be published in June 2008 is now due to be published in September 2009 by Basic Books.

Factory People to be released on DVD in May 2009

The documentary, Factory People (see below), is due to be released on DVD in May 2009.

Chelsea Hotel eviction controversy is picked up by The Observer

The Observer newspaper in London has published an article about the current controversy regarding the eviction of long-term tenants at the Chelsea Hotel.

From: "Chelsea's bohemians rage in fight to save New York landmark's soul" by David Smith (The Observer, November 30, 2008):

Punks, poets, painters, dropouts, drug fiends, drag queens - all have been welcome at the Chelsea hotel. Andy Warhol filmed there, Arthur Miller wrote there and Leonard Cohen met Janis Joplin there, going on to write a song about New York's most beloved hotel.

But long-term tenants of the Chelsea - witnesses to a colourful history of fires, murders and suicides - believe it is in danger of losing its bohemian soul. They have launched numerous lawsuits against the hotel's owners because they fear eviction. And the new manager they blame for enforcing the crackdown is British.

The full article can be read here.

(to current news | November 2008)

home - news - about - superstars - interviews - articles - soup can - films - art - timeline - abstract expressionism - sources - citations