Andy Warhol

Paul McDermott reviews 'Warhol' by Blake Gopnik

The ABR Podcast
Wednesday, 05 August 2020

Andy Warhol, who died in 1987, remains one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. His works command stratospheric prices, yet some regard him as a huckster, vacuous and inflated. He perfected a kind of cynical celebrity: the denizen of Studio 54, the consort of Lee Radziwill and all. Fame for Warhol became a kind of world-weary obsession. 

In today's episode, Paul McDermott – comedian, writer, and occasional painter – examines this contradictory artist, who is the subject of a new biography written by Blake Gopnik.

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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.

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Some time ago I appeared on a morning radio program with a prominent guru of Australian culture who roundly declared that Andy Warhol was ‘a one trick pony’. Neither remonstration nor persuasion could help the guru out of his imperturbable complacency. He had summed up Warhol in a sentence – what more need be said?

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