Warhol: A life as art
by Blake Gopnik
Allen Lane, $69.99 hb, 972 pp
Blake Gopnik’s Warhol is a monumental undertaking. At nearly a thousand pages, there is an intensity of labour present so dense that the tome feels light by comparison. The fifty chapters are arranged in chronological order after a prelude detailing Warhol’s first untimely death. This order, from birth to his second untimely death, charts a linear path through the chaotic, challenging, and extraordinary life of one of the art world’s most precocious and baffling personalities.
A large part of the difficulty in dealing with Warhol’s life is Warhol himself. He proves a most unreliable source of information, one who consciously obscured his presence in the creation of his own work, claimed he wanted to be a machine, became the epitome of ennui, dismissed his own legacy, and, when asked what led to his ground-breaking ideas, would reply in a louche whisper, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ Even now the monosyllabic responses and the complete disinterest in showing interest can be shocking. The yawning voids that Warhol left were invariably filled by other commentators.