A new Andy Warhol biography by the former chief art critic of the Washington Post is to be released next month.
Blake Gopnik, the former chief art critic of the Washington Post, has written a new biography on the iconic pop artist Andy Warhol, titled Warhol: A Life as Art.
Penguin Random House, who is publishing the book, states the “definitive” biography “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.”
The new biography seems to balance busting the myths and rumours of his personal life with the busting of myths in his professional life. For example, many believed Warhol was asexual, however as Gopnik reports, Warhol was very invested in the tradition of romance and coupledom – potentially as a result of his Catholic upbringing. There was also a time when, after attacked by critics for being “shallow”, Warhol decided to goad his critics instead of defending himself and claimed he silkscreened prints to avoid the “tedious work of painting.” However, as this biography, and a number of other reports that have surfaced over the years contest, he was actually a meticulous workaholic.
In an excerpt published in The Guardian, Gopnik shows the making of the man we have mythologized, and how he came to become that myth. Gopnik states that one of Warhol’s greatest creations was his “crowd of eccentrics”, and goes on to detail this crowd and how Warhol met one of his most famous tragic muses: Edie Sedgwick.
Gopnik also recounts the 1965 opening night of Warhol’s first museum show in Philadelphia, where the director of the museum said he produced the opening “as if it was show business. Because that’s what it was, what it was meant to be – a media event.”
In the first hour of the opening 1,600 people arrived, and after that staff could no longer keep track of the numbers—an auspicious start for the man who would go on to be one of the world’s most celebrated artists.
The book says: “Warhol asks: Was he a joke or a genius, a radical or a social climber? As Warhol himself would have answered: Yes.”
Warhol: A Life as Art will be released on 5 March 2020.