This weekend The Times published an intimate interview with one of Andy Warhol’s closest friends.
Ahead of the Warhol retrospective at the Tate Modern, Bob Colacello has revealed previously untold stories and information about Warhol. Colacello was the famous Pop artist’s confidant, and as a Colacello was a writer, Warhol knew he would be there to note down and chronicle his existence. This also included documenting Warhol’s process when it came to making his art.
Colacello’s memoirs on Warhol, Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Up Close, were first published in 1990 but were reissued in 2014 in response to the rise of reality TV and social media – the kind of 15-minute celebrity culture Warhol predicted.
Along with details of celebrities and their often scandalous interactions with Warhol, Colacello discusses the artists now-iconic appearance and his infamous wigs: “Most people didn’t realise that Andy actually had a series of wigs that he would change by the week, so that it looked like his hair was growing,” Colacello tells The Times.
Colacello also sets straight some myths about Warhol’s art. When Warhol set up shop in The Factory (a former hat factory), he famously said that he preferred making silkscreen prints because, “This way I don’t have to work on my objects at all. One of my assistants or anyone else, for that matter, can reproduce them as well as I could.” However, Colacello tells The Times this was not the case. “His work was really not done by other people.”
Warhol was a lover of beauty, and always intent on making things beautiful. Colacello recalls seeing Warhol take scissors to negatives of some of his more elderly subjects so that any double chins were removed and they had a perfect jawline.
Colacello also recorded the first time he watched Warhol’s artistic process in his diary: the face is traced onto tissue paper from a blown-up negative, the tracing is then transferred from a sheet of carbon on to canvas, then, Colacello says in his memoir, “[Andy] slaps paint (acrylic) on with a large brush, more like a house paint brush than an artists brush, rarely cleaning the brush, as he switches from area to area and colour to colour. He also uses his hands, especially fingers, to create texture, gesture, blend colours.”
When the canvas was dry, the blown-up photonegative was printed on to the top of paint work by a silkscreen printer named Alexander Heinrici. Except for that last stage, Warhol worked alone.
Colacello remembers how Warhol would record their phone conversations – the artist was keen for gossip about celebrities, but also even about Colacello’s grandmother, and that that symbolises something very poignant about Warhol. “He was kind of a sociologist in some ways,” Colacello tells The Times. “Trying to figure out what the times were about, what human relationships were about, what love was about, what sex was about. He wasn’t really good at those things.”
However, as the years have progressed Time has proved that Warhol was very good at observing what those things were about in others, which is why he continues to be a source of fascination and inspiration to this day. And why the demand for his art only increases.
The Warhol retrospective at the Tate Modern opens 12 March through to the 6 September.