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When critics attacked Andy Warhol's Marilyn paintings as shallow, the Pop artist was happy to present himself as shallower still- He claimed that he silkscreened to avoid the hard work of painting, although he was actually a meticulous workaholic; in interviews he presented himself as a silly naif when in private he was the canniest of sophisticates. Blake Gopnik's definitive biography digs deep into the contradictions and radical genius that led Andy Warhol to revolutionise our cultural world. Based on years of archival research and on interviews with hundreds of Warhol's surviving friends, lovers and enemies, Warhol traces the artist's path from his origins as the impoverished son of Eastern European immigrants in 1930s Pittsburgh, through his early success as a commercial illustrator and his groundbreaking pivot into fine art, to the society portraiture and popular celebrity of the '70s and '80s, as he reflected and responded to the changing dynamics of commerce and culture. Warhol sought out all the most glamorous figures of his times - Susan Sontag, Mick Jagger, the Barons de Rothschild - despite being burdened with an almost crippling shyness. Behind the public glitter of the artist's Factory, with its superstars, drag queens and socialites, there was a man who lived with his mother for much of his life and guarded the privacy of his home. He overcame the vicious homophobia of his youth to become a symbol of gay achievement, while always seeking the pleasures of traditional romance and coupledom. (Warhol explodes the myth of his asexuality.) Filled with new insights into the artist's work and personality, Warhol asks- Was he a joke or a genius, a radical or a social climber? As Warhol himself would have answered- Yes.

 

Details

ISBN: 9780241003381
Audience: General
Format: Hardback
Number of Pages: 976
Publication Date: 5 Mar 2020
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication City, Country: London, United Kingdom
Dimensions (cm): 24(H) x 16.2(L) x 6(W)
Weight (gm): 1582

 

Reviews

John Lennon and I once hid from Andy in a closet at the Sherry-Netherland hotel. I wish I'd known him better. This fantastic new biography makes me feel that I do. It really reveals the man - and the genius - under that silver wig. * Elton John *
Superb...Gopnik persuasively assembles his case over the course of this mesmerising book, which is as much art history and philosophy as it is biography -- Kathryn Hughes * Guardian *
A major biography based on hundreds of interviews, which considers the artist as a symbol of gay achievement and explodes the myth of his asexuality. * Guardian *
Monumental... rollicking... a formidable achievement -- Mick Brown * The Telegraph *
Gripping * The Daily Mail *
Full of irresistible titbits...Gopnik leaves us little doubt of the significance of Warhol at his best: the links between serial production in his Pop paintings and minimal avant-garde music; the Death & Disaster series identifying tragedy as a new form of mass entertainment; voyeuristic films occluding the line between art and life; portraits that presented America's elite like a range of luxury goods. To borrow a favourite Warholism: Wow. -- Hettie Judah * i newspaper *
Gopnik's exhaustive but stylishly written and entertaining account is Warholian in the best sense-raptly engaged, colorful, open-minded, and slyly ironic. ("He had become his own Duchampian urinal, worth looking at only because the artist in him had said he was.") Warhol fans and pop art enthusiasts alike will find this an endlessly engrossing portrait * Publisher's Weekly *
Serves up fresh details about almost every aspect of Warhol's life in an immensely enjoyable book that blends snappy writing with careful exegeses of the artist's influences and techniques...a fascinating, major work that will spark endless debates. * Kirkus Reviews *
Blake Gopnik's incisive, richly detailed bio puts you in Andy's inner circle and sanctum from beginning to end. It breaks down how, for decades, Andy strategically defined the pop culture zeitgeist as the world's most renowned artist -- Fab 5 Freddy, graffiti and hip-hop pioneer
An excellent inside view of Andy's life, personality, and genius. -- Diane von Furstenberg
Art and art history jumped the tracks with Andy Warhol. Blake Gopnik's lucid account of the artist and the wild times puts all that back on track again. An eye-opening biography that reads like a potboiler * Jerry Saltz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism *
Fabulously joyful... Gopnik seemingly had access to every doodle, soup tin and erotic snap, not to mention bus ticket and tax return, that the artist ever produced... Gopnik has such a strong sense of the design and patterns of his subject's life that the 976 pages seem if anything too few. For Gopnik, Warhol is the significant figure of the 20th century, surpassing even Picasso. It's a big claim, but the veteran critic makes a compelling case, arguing that Warhol collapsed and cleared the binaries - representation/abstraction, high/low and even art/not art - that every previous artist had been obliged to wrangle with. -- Kathryn Hughes * Guardian Books of the Year *
Warhol was important and Gopnik is an assiduous and sometimes meditative historian of his strange life. Unlike the artist's taste for ready-made consumables, the book is the result of years scouring the 100,000 documents in the Warhol archive * The Times Best Books of the Year *

 

Author Biography

Blake Gopnik is one of North America's leading arts writers, has served as art and design critic at Newsweek and as chief art critic at the Washington Post and Canada's Globe and Mail. He is a regular contributor to the New York Times and has a PhD in art history from Oxford University.
Warhol: A Life as Art
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