Saturday, 15 August 2015

58 years old - 28 years, 6 months and 26 days old ...


Andy Warhol, a founder of Pop Art whose paintings and prints of Presidents, movie stars, soup cans and other icons of America made him one of the most famous artists in the world, died yesterday. He was believed to be 58 years old.

The artist died at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan, where he underwent gall bladder surgery Saturday. His condition was stable after the operation, according to a hospital spokeswoman, Ricki Glantz, but he had a heart attack in his sleep around 5:30 A.M.

Though best known for his earliest works - including his silk-screen image of a Campbell's soup can and a wood sculpture painted like a box of Brillo pads - Mr. Warhol's career included successful forays into photography, movie making, writing and magazine publishing.

He founded Interview magazine in 1969, and in recent years both he and his work were increasingly in the public eye - on national magazine covers, in society columns and in television advertisements for computers, cars, cameras and liquors.

In all these endeavors, Mr. Warhol's keenest talents were for attracting publicity, for uttering the unforgettable quote and for finding the single visual image that would most shock and endure. That his art could attract and maintain the public interest made him among the most influential and widely emulated artists of his time.

Although himself shy and quiet, Mr. Warhol attracted dozens of followers who were anything but quiet, and the combination of his genius and their energy produced dozens of notorious events throughout his career. In the mid-1960's, he sometimes sent a Warhol look alike to speak for him at lecture engagements, and his Manhattan studio, ''the Factory,'' was a legendary hangout for other artists and hangers-on.

In 1968, however, a would-be follower shot and critically wounded Mr. Warhol at the Factory. After more than a year of recuperation, Mr. Warhol returned to his career, which he increasingly devoted to documenting, with Polaroid pictures and large silk-screen prints, political and entertainment figures. He started his magazine, and soon became a fixture on the fashion and jet-set social scene.

In the 1980's, after a relatively quiet period in his career, Mr. Warhol burst back onto the contemporary art scene as a mentor and friend to young artists, including Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat. With Mr. Basquiat, Mr. Warhol collaborated on a series of paintings in which he shunned mechanical reproduction techniques and painted individual canvases for the first time since the early 1960's.

He never denied his obsession with art as a business and with getting publicity; instead, he proclaimed them as philosophical tenets.

''Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art,'' he said on one occasion. On another, he said: ''Art? That's a man's name.'' As widely known as his art and his own image were, however, Mr. Warhol himself was something of a cipher. He was uneasy while speaking about himself. ''The interviewer should just tell me the words he wants me to say and I'll repeat them after him,'' he once said. Date of Birth Uncertain

The earliest facts of his life remain unclear. He was born somewhere in Pennsylvania in either 1928, 1929 or 1930, according to three known versions of his life. (The most commonly accepted date is Aug. 6, 1928.) The son of immigrant parents from Czechoslovakia, his father a coal miner - the family's name was Warhola -he attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon University), from which he graduated with a degree in pictorial design in 1949.

He immediately set out for New York, where he changed his name to Warhol and began a career as an illustrator and a commerical artist, working for Tiffany's, Bonwit Teller's, Vogue, Glamour, The New York Times and other magazines and department stores.

By the late 1950's, he was highly successful, having earned enough money to move to a town house in Midtown, and having received numerous professional prizes and awards. Despite his success, however, he increasingly considered trying his hand at making paintings, and in 1960 he did so with a series of pictures based on comic strips, including Superman and Dick Tracy, and on Coca-Cola bottles.

Success, however, was not immediate. Leo Castelli, the art dealer best known for discovering the artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, saw Mr. Warhol's paintings but declined to show his work, since Roy Lichtenstein, who also painted pictures taken from comic strips, was already represented by the gallery. Ivan Karp, a talent scout for Castelli who discovered Mr. Warhol, tried to help him find a New York gallery that would show his work, with no success. The Birth of a Movement

In 1962, the dam broke, with Mr. Warhol's first exhibition of the Campbell's soup cans at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, and his show of other works at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York. Other Pop artists, including Mr. Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist and Tom Wesselman also began to achieve prominence around the country at the time, and the movement was born.

Though some of Mr. Warhol's first Pop Art paintings had drips on them - evidence that the painter's hand had left its mark on the work - by 1963 Mr. Warhol had dispensed with the brush altogether. Instead, he turned to exclusively hard-edged images made in the medium of silk-screen print, which made a depersonalized image that became Mr. Warhol's trademark.

''Painting a soup can is not in itself a radical act,'' the critic Robert Hughes wrote in 1971. ''But what was radical in Warhol was that he adapted the means of production of soup cans to the way he produced paintings, turning them out en masse - consumer art mimicking the the process as well as the look of consumer culture.''

In 1964 Mr. Warhol was taken on by the Castelli Gallery, which remained his art dealer until his death. His experimentation with underground films began around that time - an interest that culminated in widespread notoriety if not overwhelming box office acclaim.

''Eat,'' a 45-minute film, showed the artist Robert Indiana eating a mushroom. ''Haircut'' showed a Warhol groupie having his hair cut over a span of 33 minutes, and another, ''Poor Little Rich Girl,'' was filmed out of focus and showed Edie Sedgwick, a Warhol follower who became a celebrity on the New York social circuit, talking about herself.

In the 1970's, recuperated from his near fatal gunshot wound, Mr. Warhol settled down to a sustained creative period in which his fame as a society figure leveled off, but his output, if anything, increased. Working most often in silk-screen prints, he made series of pictures of political and Hollywood celebrities, including Mao, Liza Minelli, Jimmy Carter and Russell Banks.

In 1975, he published ''The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again),'' a collection of statements and epigrams that elucidated his contrary views on art.

In his glancing and elliptical style, Mr. Warhol wrote about subjects ranging from art to money and sex. ''Checks aren't money,'' he wrote in one section of the book. In another, he said: ''Fantasy love is much better than reality love. Never doing it is very exciting. The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet.''

In the 1980's, Mr. Warhol became more active in commissioned art projects and a variety of other commercial activties. In 1983, he made a series of prints - based on animals of endangered species - that was first shown at the American Museum of Natural History. A Near Exception

Although some of his later art projects seemed to diverge from his calculating approach and to be motivated in part by social concern, Mr. Warhol generally avoided any such suggestion. He came closest to making an exception in 1985, when he exhibited a group of prints of clowns, robots, monkeys and other images he made for children at the Newport (R.I.) Art Museum in 1985.

''It's just that the show's for children,'' he told a reporter at the time. ''I wanted it arranged for them. The Newport Museum agreed to hang all of my children's pictures at levels where only kids could really see them.''

After the news of his death was publicized yesterday, artists, celebrities and politicians who knew Mr. Warhol spoke of his influence on culture, and on their lives.

''He had this wry, sardonic knack for dismissing history and putting his finger on public taste, which to me was evidence of living in the present,'' said the sculptor George Segal. ''Every generation of artists has the huge problem of finding their own language and talking about their own experience. He was out front with several others of his generation in pinning down how it was to live in the 60's, 70's and 80's.''

Leo Castelli, Mr. Warhol's dealer of 23 years, said Mr. Warhol, more than practically any artist of the last two decades, seemed to have a continuing and strong influence on today's emerging artists. ''Of all the painters of his generation he's still the one most influential on the younger artists - a real guru,'' Mr. Castelli said.

Martha Graham, the dancer and choreographer, recalled her first meeting with Warhol. ''When I first met Andy, he confided to me that he was born in Pittsburgh as I was, and that when he first saw me dance 'Appalachian Spring' it touched him deeply. He touched me deeply as well. He was a gifted, strange maverick who crossed my life with great generosity. His last act was the gift of three portraits [ of Miss Graham ] he donated to my company to help my company meet its financial needs.''

In his book, ''The Philosophy of Andy Warhol,'' the artist wrote a short chap=ter entitled ''Death'' that consisted almost entirely of these words: ''I'm so sorry to hear about it. I just thought that things were magic and that it would never happen.''

Dr. Elliot M. Gross, the Chief Medical Examiner for New York City, said an autopsy on Mr. Warhol would be conducted today. Dr. Gross explained that deaths occurring during surgery or shortly afterward are considered deaths of an ''unusual manner.''

''It was an unexplained death of a relatively young person in apparently good health,'' he said.

Mr. Warhol is survived by two brothers, John Warhola and Paul Warhola, both of Pittsburgh.

Edie Sedgwick: The life and death of the Sixties star
Rich, gorgeous and well-connected, Edie Sedgwick was the party girl who lit up Andy Warhol's golden circle. As her life story comes to the screen, Rhoda Koenig unravels a very Sixties tragedy

"Her fog, her amphetamine, and her pearls..." With three nouns, in "Just Like a Woman" (said to have been inspired by her), Bob Dylan deftly summed up his friend Edie Sedgwick, the wayward princess of Andy Warhol's multimedia Factory.

More than 30 years after her short, tumultuous life ended, Edie is still causing ructions. Last month, Dylan threatened to sue the makers of Factory Girl, a movie starring Sienna Miller as Edie, claiming that he is defamed by Hayden Christensen's portrayal of a singer whose rejection drives her to suicide.

This week, Edie's brother claimed that despite Dylan's insistence that he and Edie never had a relationship, she became pregnant with his child and had an abortion. The producers describe the harmonica-playing character (named "Quinn" in the press notes, but never called by name in the movie and identified only as "musician" in the credits) as a composite - which Dylan's lawyer argues is no bar to defamation.

The movie, which was frantically re-cut prior to its Oscar-qualifying release at one theatre in Los Angeles (though the director George Hickenlooper says the changes had nothing to do with Dylan's objections) will be edited again before its wider US release later this month.

Early reviews have been mixed, with The Hollywood Reporter praising its "bright intensity" and saying that Miller "brings to life Sedgwick's legendary allure"; the Los Angeles Times calling it "simplistic" and "superficial"; and Variety finding the movie "tame" and Miller "whiny".

It's no surprise, though, that the film should provoke reactions as varied as Edie herself did. To parents terrified of the influence of sex and drugs, she was an abomination; to the would-be cool, she was an ideal; to painters as eminent as Robert Rauschenberg, she was a living work of art.


American aristocracy ruled that a lady's name should appear in the papers only three times: when she was born, when she married, and when she died. Edie Sedgwick changed that. As well as publicising her appearances in underground movies, her numerous committals for mental illness and drug addiction were widely reported. She met her future husband - a fellow patient - in the psychiatric wing of the hospital where she was born. On the last evening of her life, in 1971, she appeared on television, and then went home to die of an overdose of barbiturates. She was 28.

Edie's troubles began long before she was born. Her distinguished New England lineage (a Sedgwick was Speaker of the House of Representatives under George Washington, another edited the Atlantic Monthly for a generation) was also distinguished by hereditary madness, as far back as the Speaker's wife.

Edie's father (whose own father had moved his family to southern California) had two nervous breakdowns soon after leaving university, and his wife was told by her doctors that she must never have children. But the rich do not like being told what to do, and the Sedgwicks were rich-rich (not only had Edie's family inherited millions; oil was discovered on their property, enough to sink 17 wells).

Mrs Sedgwick defied doctors and fate and had eight children, two of whom died before Edie - one hanged himself, the other rode his motorcycle into a bus. As a father, Francis Minturn "Duke" Sedgwick was larger than life and much more terrible. A career as a monumental sculptor and owner of a ranch that was his own little dukedom (the children were tutored at home, and seldom left it) did not exhaust his energies. He seduced, or at least made advances to, his wife's friends, his children's friends and, Edie said, to her.


When Edie left California for Radcliffe, the women's college of Harvard (the Sedgwick alma mater), she had already spent time in mental hospitals, suffered from anorexia and had an abortion. What men saw, however, was a delicate beauty and an appealingly vulnerable quality. "Every boy at Harvard," said a former classmate, "was trying to save Edie from herself."

The less high-minded boys flocked to Edie for other reasons - even at wealthy Harvard, there were not too many students who drove their own Mercedes, or were so uninhibited. At one boy's Sunday family lunch, she left the table, walked out on to the lawn, stripped to her knickers and lay down to sunbathe.

Bored in Boston, Edie decided to swap the role of college girl for party girl and moved to New York, into the 14-room Park Avenue apartment of her obliging grandmother. At 21, she came into money of her own and got a flat - and clothes, clothes, clothes. Her stick figure, huge eyes and chopped-off hair suited the style of the early Sixties - Jean Seberg in the movies, Twiggy in the glossies- and Edie was, briefly, on the fashion pages.

Life magazine said she was "doing more for black tights than anybody since Hamlet". The Vogue empress Diana Vreeland praised her "anthracite-black eyes and legs to swoon over... She is shown here arabesquing on her leather rhino to a record of The Kinks." But, well before heroin chic, her drug-taking was becoming so notorious that editors stopped calling.

In 1965, Edie met an impresario who was more her style: Andy Warhol. Warhol and Edie were, horribly, made for each other. The Pittsburgh boy, son of Polish immigrants, wanted the Wasp heiress's company more fervently than any straight man wanted her body; the neglected daughter craved the obsessive attention of a famous man who demanded nothing from her in return. "If you had a father who read the paper at the dinner table," said Viva, another of Warhol's film-stars, "and you had to go up and turn his chin to even get him to look at you, then you had Andy, who would press the 'on' button of the Sony the minute you opened your mouth."

Edie introduced Warhol to her real father, but their one meeting was not a success. The artist thought Duke Sedgwick the most handsome older man he had ever seen, but the rancher said afterwards: "Why, the guy's a screaming fag!"

Warhol's clothes became smarter under Edie's influence, and she dyed her hair silver to match his. "I thought at first it was exploitative on Andy's part," says the photographer Fred Eberstadt. "Then I changed my mind and decided, if it was exploitative on any part, maybe it was Edie's."

"Edie and Andy," the non-couple, were the couple of the moment. She took him to parties where everyone else was listed in the Social Register; he stage-managed her appearances, pushing Edie to the cameras and the microphones, where she was white with fear but loved every minute.

Edie became an habitué of the Factory, Warhol's loft papered in aluminium foil, where the daytime was spent churning out silkscreen prints and the night on parties that mingled guests who contributed flash, trash and cash with a smorgasbord of illegal stimulants. (Some left the place in limousines, some in ambulances, a regular said.)

Flash-bulbs popped and crowds on the wrong side of the rope screamed when Edie turned up in leotards and her grandmother's leopard coat. The Velvet Underground, Warhol's rock band, wrote a song, "Femme Fatale", about her. Warhol put her in a movie called Horse, which, contrary to what one might have expected from the title, was actually about a horse. The actors, in cowboy gear, were brought together with the stallion and a placard was held up that read: "Approach the horse sexually, everybody." Edie was lucky for once - the indignant horse kicked someone else in the head.


Edie appeared in Beauty Part II, her nervous radiance apparent from the first. George Plimpton, a fellow aristocrat (who, with Jean Stein, later put together the oral biography Edie) remembered seeing the film, in which Edie, in bra and pants, lounged on a bed with a man pawing her, while an offstage voice gave her instructions. "Her head would come up, like an animal suddenly alert at the edge of a waterhole, and she'd stare across the bed at her inquisitor in the shadows... I couldn't get the film out of my mind."

Other films included Restaurant, Kitchen and the cruelly titled Poor Little Rich Girl, with Edie back in bed in her underwear, putting on make-up or answering offscreen questions in an offhand way. Her dreaminess, like her hysteria, was fuelled by cocaine, alcohol, uppers and downers, alone or combined.

Edie's favourite was a speedball - a shot of amphetamine in one arm, heroin in the other. Several times she fell asleep while smoking in bed; once she was badly burned as candles toppled while she slept. Even then, her imprimatur was one the fashion world was eager to claim. "When Edie set her apartment on fire," said Betsey Johnson, "she was in one of my dresses."

Edie moved to the Chelsea Hotel, famous for its artistic clientele, where she met Dylan - whose song "Leopardskin Pillbox Hat" she is supposed to have inspired as well - and his right-hand man, the record producer Bob Neuwirth, with whom she had an affair.

However, Jonathan Sedgwick, Edie's brother, says: "She called me up and said she'd met this folk singer in the Chelsea, and she thinks she's falling in love. I could tell the difference in her, just from her voice. She sounded so joyful instead of sad. It was later on she told me she'd fallen in love with Bob Dylan."

Some months later, he says, she told him she had been hospitalised for drug addiction and that when doctors discovered she was pregnant, they carried out an abortion, over her protests. "Her biggest joy was with Bob Dylan, and her saddest time was with Bob Dylan, losing the child. Edie was changed by that experience, very much so."

Dylan's lover of record at the time was Joan Baez. Soon after they broke up, he married Sara Lownds; Edie was said to have been devastated when she heard the news from someone else.

Even with her inheritance gone, and unable to count on money from home, Edie wouldn't economise. In all the time she lived in New York, she took the subway only once - to Coney Island, in a feathered evening gown over a bikini. The rest of the time it was limousines. She would never even settle for a taxi.

At the end of 1966, Edie went to California for Christmas. At the Chelsea, they were relieved to see her go - there would be terrible scenes in the lobby when she wasn't able to pay her bill, and she never could stop setting her room on fire.

As soon as she got home, her parents had her committed. And as soon as she could, she ran back to New York. But the spotlight never again turned her way. In 1967, her father died. A friend said: "Finally. Thank God. Now, maybe Edie can breathe."

But she became more depressed. Her money was gone, and she returned to her grandmother's apartment, to steal antiques which she sold for drug money. After eight months in increasingly grim and frightening mental hospitals, in the last of which she was made to scrub the lavatories, she returned, in 1968, to the ranch. But her drug habit had not ended, and she took up with a motorcycle gang, trading sex for heroin. "She'd ball half the dudes in town for a snort of junk," a friend said. "But she was always very ladylike about the whole thing."


In Edie's last film, Ciao! Manhattan, whose scenario was even more formless and bizarre than her own, she played a topless hitchhiker living in a tent in an empty swimming pool. There was a non-simulated orgy in a (full) swimming pool, fuelled by amphetamines and tequila. Not just Edie but the whole cast were on speed; the film-makers had to find a co-operative doctor and set up a charge account.

Edie showed off her new implants, but ascribed her larger breasts to diet and exercise. She pretended to undergo electroshock treatments - to which she was soon after subjected for real, in the hospital used for the filming. She also recreated being given a shot of amphetamine by one of the swinging doctors of the period, having to lie down because she was too thin to take it standing up.

Roger Vadim and Allen Ginsberg, the latter naked and chanting, turned up for some reason, and Isabel Jewell, the tough girl of such Thirties films as Times Square Lady and I've Been Around, played her mother. Edie would sometimes have convulsions from all the drugs she was taking. The director of the film ordered his assistant: "Tie her down if you have to."

In July 1971, in white lace, Edie married Michael Post, a student eight years younger, whom she had turned from his vow to remain a virgin until he was 21. Some guests threw confetti; one threw gravel. Edie could not live alone, she said, and would not live with a nurse. Post's job was to dole out her pills.

On 14 November, she went to a fashion show where she headed for the cameras like a woman dying of thirst to an oasis. A man she met that evening said she asked to come and see him the next day for a chat, but they would need to have sex first, otherwise she'd be too nervous to talk. The next morning, her husband woke to find her dead beside him. Whether her death was accident or suicide, the coroner was unable to determine. Post plays a bit part in the movie.

When Edie first crashed and burned, such stories of a misguided search for freedom and self-expression were rare. By the time she died, they were becoming common. Now, of course, there are too many to count. But the carefree innocence and optimism of the early Edie's photographs and films still resonate. "She was after life," said Diana Vreeland, "and sometimes life doesn't come fast enough."

Factory Girl is released in February

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