Toni Clayton, American Pop & Modern Specialist
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Throughout his reign as the ’Prince of Pop’, Warhol was both host and participant of some of the most outlandish parties in New York. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Warhol's Factory became the party destination for the city's celebrities and eccentrics. With empty glasses, bottles of champagne and ashtrays littered on the table, After The Party immortalises one of Warhol's exuberant nights out.
After The Party documents an array of glasses, champagne and wine bottles, plates of food and ashtrays, which seem to have been abandoned by drunken party guests. The sheer excess of the spread, and the lack of people eating and drinking it, pronounces the gluttony and excess of the party on show.
Outlined in a rainbow from left to right, Warhol's cutlery and crockery is animated with the spirit of the party. The colourful outlines, which are intentionally off-centre, speak to the intoxicating effects of the drugs and alcohol being passed around Warhol's parties.
Constantly surrounded by the iconic actors, musicians, fashion designers, and models of his time, it is hardly surprising that Warhol should choose his star-studded friends as his subjects. From Mick Jagger to Martha Graham, Warhol's friendship group was eclectic and inspiring. Though the After The Party prints do not depict any of these famous faces, the works are telling of the good times Warhol shared with them, both behind and in front of the camera.
In 1964, Warhol moved his studio to the location that would quickly become known as the Factory. Warhol's Factory was a site of art production, happenings, and debauchery. By the time he created his After The Party series, the Factory had become an iconic landmark for New York's subcultures. Among the Factory's frequenters were Candy Darling, Gerard Malanga, and The Velvet Underground, the latter of which regularly performed at the Factory and were filmed for Warhol's 1966 Exploding Plastic Inevitable.
Though most prints in the series use the same monochrome background and colourful layered outlines, each work is totally unique. Certain works in the series experiment with bolder colour, revealing Warhol's ceaseless experimentation and painstaking attention to detail.
When Warhol created his prints ’from life’, rather than from pre-existing images from mass media, he usually began his process with a photoshoot. In the case of After The Party, Warhol captured the aftermath of one of his flamboyant evenings in real time, before transforming it with psychedelic colour during the screenprinting process.
With roots in commercial advertising, Warhol had always been ingrained in the world of capitalism and consumption. These early years of his career had a profound impact on his art practice, and from the 1960s onwards he increasingly turned his attention to the familiar products of mass-consumption, from Brillo Boxes to Campbell's Soup Cans. In After The Party, this obsession with consumption continued, as Warhol turned his attention to the eating and drinking habits of his A-list friends.
Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jerry Hall and Debbie Harry, Warhol frequented the iconic Studio 54 to be with the famous and beautiful people that inspired his oeuvre. Warhol once said of the iconic nightclub on 254 West 54th Street, ”The key of the success of Studio 54 is that it's a dictatorship at the door and a democracy on the dance floor”, not dissimilar to his own Factory. It is this air of celebrity exclusivity and excess which permeates After The Party.
With champagne bottles and plates of food haphazardly strewn across the table, After The Party is a snapshot of the wealth and indulgence of Warhol's circle. The series immortalises a night of decadence and debauchery, and is a semi-autobiographical document of Warhol's lifestyle at this time in his life and career.