by Gary Comenas
Eric Emerson performing ballet as a youth on the cover of Who Killed Wonderboy?
At last, I've finished my exploration into the death of Warhol superstar Eric Emerson who once described himself as a "wonderboy" and starred in The Chelsea Girls, Lonesome Cowboys, San Diego Surf and Heat. The exact cause of death has been shrouded in mystery for some time. Was it a "hit and run" as reported by the press or was it, as a couple of his colleagues suggested, a "murder?"
Who Killed Wonderboy? and other stories is currently available on Amazon by clicking on the above links.
About a decade ago, a series of prints featuring a Warhol Self-Portrait with a red background were deemed to be not authentic by the Andy Warhol Authentication Board. A book featuring the controversy over the prints is due in November, written by Richard Dorment who was the art critic of a Conservative newspaper in England and also wrote for the New York Review of Books.
The reasons they were not deemed to be "Warhols" is clear from the reasons the Board (which no longer exists) gave to an owner of one of the prints at the time (quoted in What Andy Warhol Didn't Do.)
1. The series of Self-Portraits that Andy Warhol made in early 1964 consists of a group of works of the same size, produced from the same photographic source. Eleven works of this type have been documented by the editors of the Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné thus far. Each work in this series is different from all the others as noted below. This is not the case with respect to the work you submitted to the Andy Warhol Authentication Board. To date, ten paintings have been examined by the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board that are identical to each other and to the work you submitted. The existence of ten identical works is without precedent in the corpus of Warhol's paintings.
2. The background of the Self-Portraits that Andy Warhol made in early 1964 is painted by hand; and each background has been painted a different color. The background of the painting you submitted and the backgrounds of the nine identical examples are printed, not hand-painted.
3. The eyes, skin tones, and the silver hair in the Self-Portraits that Andy Warhol made in early 1964 are hand-painted; the color of the eyes varies from work to work. The eyes, skin tones, and hair in the work you submitted and in the nine identical examples are printed, not hand-painted.
4. The only aspect of the Self-Portraits that Warhol made in early 1964 that is printed is the black silkscreen impression, printed over the areas of hand-painted color. Each impression varies among the works made by Warhol, as does the registration of the black screen over the ares of hand-painted color. This is not the case with respect to the work you submitted and the nine identical examples.
5. Warhol's Self-Portraits of early 1964 were all made on linen. The work you submitted and the nine identical examples were made on cotton.
6. Warhol's Self-Portraits were produced from a photograph that he submitted to the silkscreen fabricator with his instructions on a paste-up mechanical. The photograph in the mechanical was reproduced by the silkscreen fabricator onto a photo-sensitive silkscreen. The silkscreen was used by Warhol to depict the outlines of the head and the features of the face The tones from the photograph seen on the canvas as a pattern of black dots are known as halftone. The density of the halftone in the work you submitted to our review and in the nine identical examples is reduced, as compared to the density of the halftones on Warhol's early 1964 canvases, indicating the work you submitted and the other nine identical works examined by the Board were not made from the same silkscreen that Warhol used to make this series of work in early 1964.
7. Finally, as part of its research, the Board learned that the work you submitted and all nine identical examples were printed by a commercial printer in 1965. The printer claimed that he received materials and specifications from another party, and had never had any contact with Warhol himself.
Bibbe Hansen and Gary Comenas at Oscar Restaurant (Firmdale) in London (Photo Sean Carrillo, 2022)
September 2023: A selection of Bibbe Hansen's poetry has been published in the current issue of the Evergreen Review under the title of Holly and Other Poems. Includes Holly, Mario, Jonas, Dorothy and John. Artwork by David Gilbert. Go to: https://evergreenreview.com/read/holly-and-other-poems/.
Edie: A Mystery Solved by Gary Comenas
A true story about Andy Warhol Superstar Edie Sedgwick and an imposter
June 2023: At last. My Edie Sedgwick book is published! A novella-sized introduction to Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol and certain events that happened in the years after Edie's death when an actress in New York attempted to pass herself off as a relative of Andy Warhol's most famous superstar with tragic consequences.
This book is a behind-the-scenes look at what really went on. Some of you will remember the incidents and some of you were involved. A TRUE story that began with an unsolicited email and ended up in "18 years to life."
Hope you enjoy it.
Debbie Harry and drummer Clem Burke of Blondie
June 25, 2023: Blondie gave an overwhelming performance at the Glastonbury Festival in the U.K. to an audience of thousands (over two hundred thousand attended the event) in front of an amazingly fluid film backdrop that referenced events in the '70s and '80s like Glenn O'Brien's TV Party.
Debbie Harry at the age of 77 gave a stunning performance backed by members of her old band including drummer Clem Burke (who is also in his 70s) who performed with the energy of a teenager - and newcomers that included former Sex Pistol, Glen Matlock. Guitarist Tommy Kessler gave an amazing solo that got the crowd roaring.
The performance was definitely the highlight of the festival.
May 19, 2023: On Thursday, May 18, 2023, the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts lost their case against celebrity photographer Lynn Goldsmith regarding the use of her photograph of Prince in a painting by Andy Warhol.
The judgment notes that "The Court limits its analysis to the specific use alleged to be infringing in this case—AWF’s commercial licensing of Orange Prince to Condé Nast—and expresses no opinion as to the creation, display, or sale of the original Prince Series works."
Apparently the main problem was the licensing, not the work itself.
The summary continues: "In the context of Condé Nast’s special edition magazine commemorating Prince, the purpose of the Orange Prince image is substantially the same as that of Goldsmith’s original photograph. Both are portraits of Prince used in magazines to illustrate stories about Prince. The use also is of a commercial nature. Taken together, these two elements counsel against fair use here. Although a use’s transformativeness may outweigh its commercial character, in this case both point in the same direction. That does not mean that all of Warhol’s derivative works, nor all uses of them, give rise to the same fair use analysis."
Does that last sentence mean that the judgment does not affect the licensing of Andy Warhol's Marilyns, for instance? The judgment opens a Pandora's box of possible lawsuits and headaches for editors. What effect this has on Goldsmith being able to earn money from the image will have to be seen. Will editors shy away from using her work to avoid legal hassles? Who owns the rights to the work? She has posted her Prince photograph on Facebook and Facebook's terms and conditions stipulate that they own any "IP content" posted on their site. "IP content" includes photographs. Is the judgment relevant to works by artists such as Richard Prince who use images from other sources? How will the judgment affect struggling graffiti artists who use popular imagery in their works?
More to come....
Detail from a dress made of Andy Warhol's Happy Butterfly Day textile (The Needlecraft, c. 1955)
23 April 2023: Andy Warhol: The Textiles opened at The Fashion and Textile Museum on 31 March 2023 and continues until 10 September 2023.
19 April 2023: While the BASQUIAT × WARHOL. PAINTING FOUR HANDS exhibition continues to wow the critics and crowds at the Foundation Louis Vuitton (and The Andy Warhol Museum hosts the Warhol show in Saudi Arabia where being gay is a crime that carries the death sentence), Los Angeles auctioneer Michael Barzman has pleaded guilty to a scheme involving fake Basquiats with another individual, identified as "J.F."
The 25 fake Basquiats were displayed at the Orlando Museum of Art in Florida as part of an exhibition titled Heroes and Monsters before they were seized by federal agents.
Barzman was charged on Tuesday, 14 April 2023. His next court date is yet to be scheduled.
Kip Stagg in one of his Andy Warhol Screen Tests
18 April 2023: I've only been made aware recently that Kip Stagg, who starred with Edie Sedgwick in Beauty No. 1 and appeared in a couple of Warhol Screen Tests ( including footage described as a "four-minute long, silent double portrait of Warhol superstar Edie Sedgwick and Columbia University student Kip Stagg" in volume 2 of the film catalogue raisonne. (p. 338)), died over a year ago in October 2021.
A January 2022 comment on HiFi Haven noted that he passed away on October 21st. By that time he had changed his name to Bima Stagg. More info on StaggTV where he is also credited as being the co-writer of the screenplay for The Stud (based on the novel by Jackie Collins).
His short film with Edie Sedgwick (in a similar format and length of a Warhol Screen Test) was shown by Hedges Projects March 15 - April 20, 2019 in L.A. and is thought to have been given to Pat Hackett by Andy Warhol. The four minute film is being sold for $100,000.
Mark Lancaster exhibition catalogue available online at ISSU
4 April 2023: An exhibition of paintings by Mark Lancaster, who appeared in Andy Warhol's Kiss (kissing Warhol's straight art assistant, Gerard Malanga), as well as Andy Warhol's semi-pornographic film, Couch and the unfinished Batman Dracula, opened on 5 April 2023 at the Redfern Gallery in London on Cork Street, accompanied by an exhibition catalogue with an excellent essay by art writer Ian Massey.
The works were surprisingly good - huge, complicated canvases that reflected the techniques of the time - from Color Field to Pop (sometimes without dropping the 'Pollockian' drip) - but avoiding the superficiality of eclecticism; filled with references that would be understood by other artists and art historians. An artist's artist in a show that should be brought to New York.
Strangely, one of his least interesting pieces - a mundane watercolour from 1960 in the entrance hallway of the gallery - seemed to be getting a lot of attention although it's probably the weakest work in the show.
Loved the 14th Street series which is reminiscent of the faded technique that Warhol used in paintings like his Sidney Janis and Nelson Rockefeller portrait series - but Mark's paintings aren't portraits, they're feelings.
Do not miss this exhibition. You are in for a surprise. The prices are also a surprise. They are incredibly underpriced. That will change as time goes on - my art spies tell me that a book is being prepared on Mark who was also Jasper Johns' long-term lover (after Robert Rauschenberg) and the Artistic Director of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. More in the Mark Lancaster interview.
R.I.P. Mark. You were missed at the PV. Richard Morphet, who you described as your "oldest friend, from age 14," in your interview and later became a curator and "Keeper of the Modern Collection" at the Tate Britain, was there - along with other art luminaries like Richard Wentworth.
18 January 2023: FAME, an exhibition of works by Andy Warhol, will take place in Saudi Arabia from 17 February to 16 May 2023. Warhol was gay, of course, and being gay in Saudi Arabia is illegal. (See LGBT Rights in Saudi Arabia). The exhibition is produced in collaboration with the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
See: Why I Won’t Be Visiting the Warhol Show in Saudi Arabia by David Carrier in Hyperallergic.
8 January 2023: Bibbe Hansen will be performing at the launch party of the latest issue of Love Love magazine at La Fab in Paris on 21 January 2023 and YOU are invited. If you have never seen Bibbe do a reading before, don't miss it - she's an excellent performer and writer. Details at Love Love party.