Author(s): Blake Gopnik
Andy Warhol presented himself as being as shallow as critics accused his famous Campbell's Soup can paintings of being. His public persona was droll; he claimed that he silkscreened because it was easier than painting, and that everyone would have fifteen minutes of fame in the future. But who was Andy Warhol really, and how did he come to revolutionise our visual world forever? From his impoverished childhood as the son of Slovak immigrants in 1930s Pittsburgh, to finding commercial success as an advertising illustrator, to his painstaking pivot into fine art to becoming one of the first people to bring a queer aesthetic out into the open; Warhol shows us how deliberately Andy Warhol reflected the changing winds of commercialism, capitalism and celebrity in the 1960s that still underpin our world today. Behind the glamourous Factory setting of superstars, drag queens, musicians and high-society drop-outs, there was a complex man who lived with his mother until the day he died; whose asexual persona obscured a man who was openly gay during a time of great prejudice; who rubbed shoulders with Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lou Reed and Susan Sontag but grappled with crippling lifelong insecurity. Blake Gopnik has spent six years researching Warhol's life and art and reveals a life of contrasts and deliberate artifice hiding great depths. Filled with new insights into the development and impact of Warhol's art and his personality, Warhol asks- was he a joke or a genius, a radical or a social climber? As Warhol would have answered- Yes.