4 July 2019: The Smithsonian Institution has refused a request to have the Sackler name removed from its Asian art gallery in Washington, DC. The request was made by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley who claimed that "The Sackler family hooked thousands of Americans on OxyContin through aggressive and misleading marketing tactics and profited from one of the deadliest public health crises in our country."
His request was made despite the fact, as noted in Hyperallergic, that the Sackler who donated the collection of Asian art and artefacts to the Smithsonian worth $50 million (in addition to a further $4 million for the construction of the gallery) was Arthur M. Sackler who died in 1987, "eight years before OxyContin existed."
Senator Merkley's demands mirrored those of the artist Nan Goldin who held a lacklustre demonstration at the Louvre on July 1st, demanding that they too "take down the Sackler name."
It's doubtful that Goldin's actions will have any effect on the Louvre's decisions. Reportedly, she asked to meet with a representative of the museum but they don't appear to have taken her up on her offer. I wouldn't be surprised if galleries stop having Goldin exhibitions because of her demands. Regardless of how they feel about drugs, they don't need the grief.
The only gallery in Europe that I'm aware of who has acquiesced to Goldin's demands is the National Portrait Gallery in London. Goldin threatened to boycott exhibiting at the gallery unless they refused a donation of £1 million from the Sackler family. I wouldn't like to be the person who made the decision to refuse the donation. Exhibitions are all about footfall nowadays and I can't help but wonder if a Nan Goldin show is worth £1 million.
Nan Goldin's most popular work is from the '80s - photographs from her druggy past. Despite her objections to opioids, she doesn't mind making a bit of money off her photographs of addicts. Those images have been recycled so many times, however, that I wonder if they'll bring in the punters. In today's art world, they seem tame compared to the cutting-edge work of artists like Larry Clark who still manages to produce edgy imagery. Nan's art seems fairly mainstream nowadays.
The logical extension of Nan's threat to boycott the Portrait Gallery because of the Sackler money, would be for people to boycott her show because her photographs of addicts might influence a viewer to become one. Where will all this boycotting end? What about the songs of Lou Reed or the books by William Burroughs? Should they be boycotted as well?
Nan's condemnation of the Sacklers seems slightly hypocritical, given her previous history of addiction. According to the press pack distributed by her gallery, Goldin "had her first hit of heroin before she was 18." She went into treatment in 1988 and started using OxyContin in 2014. When her doctors refused to give it to her, she arranged to have a dealer FedEx it to her (according to her press pack). She doesn't appear to be blaming herself or her dealer for her addiction, she appears to be blaming the Sacklers.
OxyContin is an Extended Release formulation. It is meant to release a measured amount of a pain killer over time, but has been known to be abused by some addicts who find a way to take the whole dose in one go. It seems unfair to blame the company that makes the drug, Purdue Pharma, for that.
Nan needs to accept responsibility for her addiction. She got addicted to OxyContin because she is an addict - and not because of the Sacklers. It was Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Sertürner who first invented morphine, but she hasn't condemned him or his family. Where does the blame stop?
Purdue has issued the following press release: "Common Myths About OxyContin® (oxycodone HCl) Extended-Release Tablets CII."
The articles from Nan Goldin's press pack that are referenced above are the following:
Nan Goldin, "Nan Goldin," Artforum, January 2018
Davies, Lucy. “Nan Goldin: from post-punk parties to parental love,” The Telegraph, 6 April 2014
O’Hagan, Sean. “Nan Goldin,” The Guardian. 22 March 2014
See also: Joanna Walters, "'I don't know how they live with themselves' - Nan Goldin takes on the billionaire family behind OxyContin," The Guardian, 22 January 2018, and Hakim Bishara, "Smitsonian Rejects Senator's Request to Remove Sackler Name From Building," Hyperallergic, 3 July 2019
Gary Comenas, 5 July 2019
3 July 2019: As reported here in April 2017, the photographer Lynn Goldsmith threatened to bring a legal action against the Andy Warhol Foundation over the use of a photograph of Prince that she had taken which Warhol later used in a painting. (See: "Lynn Goldsmith threatens legal action against the Warhol Foundation.")
The Foundation went to court to seek a declaratory judgment that Warhol's work was not an infringement of copyright and Goldsmith then brought her threatened action against the Foundation, claiming that Warhol's painting was an infringement of copyright.
The Court has now decided in the favour of the Foundation - that Warhol's work was not an infringement of copyright - and has denied Goldsmith's action, largely because of the extensive alterations that Warhol made to the original work. (See "The Andy Warhol Foundation's case against Lynn Goldsmith continues.")
The full judgment can be read at Warhol Foundation vs. Lynn Goldsmith.
Gary Comenas, 3 July 2019
Eat is a film of the Pop artist Robert Indiana eating a mushroom - sort of. It's not a real-time film of a Indiana eating as mushroom, just as Sleep wasn't a real-time film of the poet John Giorno sleeping. Both films were heavily edited. The film links Warhol to Coenties Slip (see Wiliam S. Wilson's quote below), as it was shot in Indiana's apartment in the Slip. An exhibition of the work by artists who lived there ("Nine Artists - Coenties Slip" was held by the Whitney Museum in 1974 (January 10 - February 14, 1974)).
The film being shown with Eat, The Nude Restaurant is referred to as Warhol's anti-war film because of Julian Burroughs exhortation to viewers to join the resistance against the Vietnam War at the end of the film. Julian Burroughs was not "Julian Burroughs," of course. His real name was Andrew Dungan and he was a real-life draft dodger. See "Interview with Andrew Dungan (aka Julian Burroughs)."
Gary Comenas, 2 July 2019
30 June 2019: Pat Loud has finally revealed what happened in the destroyed PBS footage of Warhol superstar, Edie Sedgwick, at the Santa Barbara Museum fashion show that took place the evening before Edie died. Trey Taylor writes in The Face (25 June 2019):
"Lance Loud was at the Santa Barbara Museum, waiting for a fashion show to start, when dialed-out, track-marked heiress Edie Sedgwick came bounding up to him and the camera crew, but mostly the camera crew, that was filming Loud for the reality television series An American Family. It was November 15, 1971. More importantly, it was the night before Sedgwick’s death from an overdose of barbiturates.
At the fashion show’s afterparty, Sedgwick was berated by Veronica Janeway. She loudly accused Sedgwick of being a heroin addict. “Those aren’t heroin marks; that’s from a cat,” Jeffrey Post, Sedgwick’s brother-in-law, rebutted. Sedgwick took great offense, went home and, the next morning, didn’t wake up.
The ex-Warhol muse’s death isn’t a mystery. She’d gone the same way as Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland had before her. But the last surviving footage of Sedgwick taken that night never aired. It was scrubbed from An American Family and, if accounts are to be believed, was unceremoniously destroyed. Rather curiously, a New York Observer interview with Lance Loud ran in the early ‘00s in which he admitted that in that unused footage, his mother Pat allegedly accused him of “delivering the coup de grâce to Edie Sedgwick.”
'Oh God, I’ll tell you what happened,' Pat, now 92 and living alone in Los Angeles, recently told me by phone.
'I had a very bad cold and Lance had a guy visiting him, Norman Fisher. And Norman, turns out, was the drug dealer to the stars in New York City. They went to the opening and the camera crew followed them. And when the lights came on, Edie Sedgwick – I saw the footage – came running up to the cameras and she was almost inarticulate, almost unable to speak. She was either high or drunk or both,' she says.
'They were talking and Lance offered to take her home, and she let him. So he took her home and the next morning Jack Baker called me around 10:00 am and he told me that she was dead. And so I called Lance. I said, ‘You did not do drugs or anything, did you?’ And he said no. He saw this table by [Sedgwick’s] door that was just filled with prescription bottles. And that was all; he dropped her off and left… PBS threw out all the outtakes away. So that’s the story of that.'"
20 June 2019: Donna De Salvo has resigned from the Whitney Museum. She will be leaving on July 1st. De Salvo was the Deputy Director for International Initiatives and Senior Curator for the Whitney. She organised the recent Warhol retrospective, "Andy Warhol - From A to B and Back Again."
The exhibition got rave reviews in the press, although it was less popular on social media. I don't recall many pictures appearing on social media of people posing with their favourite paintings from the show, and some of the survivors of the sixties expressed that they felt excluded.
The naming of the exhibition was also unusual. It was named after a book that, according to Pat Hackett and Bob Colacello, was actually written by them - see "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again."
The Whitney's press release about De Salvo simply states that she has resigned to "pursue other interests," but doesn't indicate whether those interests include participation in the six month exhibition of Warhol's work scheduled for the Tate Modern next year, where De Salvo used to work.
Meanwhile, the retrospective she organised has moved from New York to San Francisco, which might be a good thing. The Whitney's show was tarnished somewhat by circumstances out of De Salvo's control when it was discovered that one of the board members of the museum was the head of a company that provided the tear gas that was used against immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. (See "Demonstrators Fill the Whitney Museum—and Burn Sage—to Protest Its Vice Chairman’s Ties to Tear Gas Manufacturer.")
I also found the catalogue for the retrospective a bit of an anomaly. It seemed to give the impression that Warhol emerged out of nowhere. There was very little about the milieu of the late fifties and early sixties that gave rise to Pop Art or how Warhol fitted in with the other Pop artists in the pre-Pop, "neo-Dada" era.
Pop rose up out of influences like John Cage, who spent a considerable time in Pittsburgh when Warhol was a student (See When did Andy Warhol Meet John Cage?); artists who had already gone "Pop" like Oldenburg; and even the scene at Coenties Slip which started in the late fifties and included artists like Robert Indiana (who was later featured in Warhol's film, Eat.) John Cage is mentioned on one page on the exhibition catalogue (yes, only one) and the same with Oldenburg. If you want to know how the Soup Cans emerged, the catalogue raisonne gives the best account and there is also my essay, "The Origin of Andy Warhol's Soup Cans or The Synthesis of Nothingness."
I realise that the retrospective probably tried to come up with a new approach to Warhol, but there's a difference between a new approach and ignoring history. The art writer, William S. Wilson, once sent me an email (quoted in the yet-to-be published book, The Real World) which summed up the pre-Pop situation as only Bill could. He points out that there were many horses at the starting gate of Pop, and questions how an outsider, Andy Warhol, managed to win the race; an interesting question but one which the exhibition catalogue, unfortunately, doesn't answer. Why did Warhol win the race? (Bill mentions the scene at Coenties Slip in his email which he was very familiar with - it's where he met his wife, the artist Anne Wilson.)
William S. Wilson:
Gary: as you see, I wander away from Andy, not to confuse you, but to convey a sense of the whole huge field of the era, wherein Andy was one figure woven into an immense tapestry of people, many of them at that time aspiring to become successful artists, hence just like Andy at that time, that is, equal to Andy in the sense of having talent and potential to become significant.
Many horses were at the starting-gate, and the race was only about to begin when I became intimate with Coenties Slip, where Agnes Martin blew up a telephone booth to get the money, she was so desperate. Robert Indiana did some sexual work for money. I don't quite know how to delineate Andy's splendid isolation - next to some other Pop Artists, but never with them on the same plane socially. Ray was his friend, I guess, but each seemed to be in a world of his own, at least at a distance from other Pop artists of enduring significance.
I am curating "Ray Johnson: the art of friendship," but wouldn't know how to begin "Andy Warhol: the art of friendship." Of course I, or you, or we, must wonder what did Andy know?, and when did he know it?, and how did the publicities arise that separated him so extremely from all other artists, as far as I could see? Who, among artists, put in a good word for Andy through the 1960s? You look back through the lens of fame and the later achievements in film, but I can go back to my experience, seeing the situation as it was then, albeit from my narrow perspectives: Bill
The chief archivist for the Andy Warhol Museum, Matt Wrbican, died of brain cancer on June 1, 2019. Matt's death is a major loss for Warhol scholarship. I was often in touch with Matt during the early years of the site. I will always remember him from those early years when he, along with Billy Name and Callie Angell were so helpful. The world of Warhol scholarship owes a considerable debt to all three. Warhol biographer, Blake Gopnik, has paid tribute to Matt on his website, warholiana.com.
Matt's obituary can be found in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
An article on the short-lived Broadway production that Andy Warhol and Richard Turley 'presented,' Man on the Moon (produced by Paul Morrissey) has appeared on the New York Theatre website. See Andy Warhol from A To Broadway: That Time Warhol Produced a Broadway Musical. (See also: Andy Warhol presents Man on the Moon.)
Photographer Stephen Shore, author (with Lynn Tillman) of Factory: Andy Warhol (Phaidon, 2016) and Velvet Years: Warhol's Factory, 1965 - 1967 (Pavilion Books, 1997) will be speaking at Somerset House on 16 May 2019 at 1:00 pm in the Lancaster Room. [Note: This event is now sold out]
There will be an exhibition of works by Andy Warhol at the Tate Modern for six months beginning in March 2020. Details on the Tate press release and in The Guardian. Further details will be posted here as they are released.
According to the press release for the "Warhol Women" exhibition at Lévy Gorvy, the show will include screenings of Andy Warhol's Screen Tests. The opening reception for the exhibition is Wednesday night, April 24, 2019 and the show runs from April 25 to June 15, 2019.
According to Callie Angell in the first volume of the film cat. rais., the first Screen Tests were shot for the film series The Thirteen Most Beautiful Boys. In 2015 a selection of Warhol's Screen Tests were projected in Times Square.
There is an interview with Matt Gray, a project cataloguer at the Andy Warhol Museum, in the current issue of the Pittsburgh City Paper.
Bob Colacello, Fred Hughes, Hotel Excelsior, Naples, 1976. © Bob Colacello
An exhibition of photographs by Warhol insider and Interview magazine editor, Bob Colacello, will run from May 3 to June 21, 2019 at Vito Schnabel Projects. Details: 43 CLARKSON STREET, NEW YORK, NY 10014 T. 646 386 2246 F. 212 504 0836 INFO@VITOSCHNABEL.COM.
Colacello is the author of the riveting insider's view of Andy Warhol's world, Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up; he was the managing editor of Interview magazine from the autumn of 1970 to late '71 and became the executive editor after Rosemary Kent was fired in 1975. (See "Andy Warhol's Interview."). He also helped to write, along with Pat Hackett, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again. The exhibition and Colacello's book, Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up, are both Highly Recommended.
For Bob Colacello's comments on Fred Hughes from Holy Terror, see: "Fred Hughes attacks Andy Warhol."
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
There will be a Factory-style party on the fourth floor of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's "Art Bash" fundraiser on May 22, 2019. The evening which will include a performance by the indie pop band Luna, featuring Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips who did "13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests" and "Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films." The event on the fourth floor is in celebration of the Warhol retrospective, Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again, which will run from May 19–September 2, 2019 at the museum, travelling there from the Whitney in New York.
Other performances include Nick Cave activating the atrium with an LED art floor and Soundsuit Invasions. Throughout the evening, 10 Soundsuits dancers will perform in the atrium.
Art Bash is sponsored by: Dolly and George Chammas, Penny S. and James G. Coulter, Roberta and Steve Denning, The Fisher Family, Kathryn Hall and Tom Knutsen, Jessica and Jason Moment, Diana Nelson and John Atwater, Deborah and Kenneth Novack, Gina and Stuart Peterson, Lisa S. Pritzker, Helen and Charles Schwab, Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg and John and Ali Walecka.
For full details of the Art Bash, see the press release.
An exhibition of Nat Finkelstein's photographs - 'In and Out of Warhol's Orbit: Photographs by Nat Finkelstein" - runs until April 11 to June 1, 2019 at Proud Central in London. The gallery is located at 32 John Adam Street, WC2 6BP, London, Tel: 020 7839 4942.
Superstar site-user Vernon Purnell has brought to my attention a Rolling Stone magazine article announcing an exhibition of paintings by Bob Dylan to take place at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa from May 10, 2019 to September 15, 2019. Andy Warhol's Screen Test of Dylan will also be shown.
Vincent Fremont standing in the hallway of Andy Warhol's final "Factory"
Thomas Kiedrowski, the author of Andy Warhol’s New York City (Penguin Random House) has brought to my attention some stunning online photographs of Andy Warhol's final "Factory" in the Con Edison Building by the photographer, Timothy Hursley, who also shot Warhol's bedroom in his townhouse on East 66th Street.
Fascinating website of photographs by a fascinating photographer.
The edition of the new David Bailey book that includes a signed print of Andy Warhol
Taschen is publishing limited editions of a new David Bailey book that includes a signed print by the photographer.
The first Art Edition came with a print of John Lennon and Paul McCartney and sold out at £11,250. The "Andy Warhol 1965" edition (no. 226-300) will be sold for £9,000 and is "coming soon." Details on the Taschen website. Includes introduction by Damien Hirst.