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  Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film What Another Warhol?
Year: 2006
Director: Ric Burns
Stars: Laurie Anderson, Irving Blum, George Plimpton, Paul Morrissey, Andy Warhol
Genre: DocumentaryBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Andy Warhol, the world’s greatest pop artist and art entrepreneur, was an enigmatic man, who pulled himself up from a poor, first generation immigrant existence in Pittsburgh to becoming part of the glitterati of New York City. Warhol’s multi-faceted life is explored in Ric Burns' latest work, Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film.

This two-part documentary debuted in the USA on PBS’s American Masters series on September 20th & 21st, 2006. No artist in the second half of the 20th century was more famous, or misunderstood, than Andy Warhol. This film explores his astonishing artistic output from the late 1940’s to his untimely death in 1987. Obsessed with fame and a desire to transcend his origins, Warhol grasped the realities of modern society and became the high priest of one of the most radical experiments in American culture, penetrating the barrier between art and commerce. Laurie Anderson, the performance artist, is the narrator of the bio-pic.

The film depicts Warhol’s early life as Andy Warhola, the son of eastern European immigrants, Andrej Warhola and Julia Zavacky Warhola, and his early art influences, including religious iconography from the neighborhood Catholic church in the working class neighborhood of SoHo in Pittsburgh. The youngest of three sons, Andrew attended Holmes Elementary School and Schenley High School, and entered Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh in 1945, where he studied with Balcomb Greene, Robert Lepper, Samuel Rosenberg, and others. He experimented with his name, signing holiday cards "André," and dropping the final "a" from his family name. He graduated in June 1949 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Pictorial Design.

In the summer of 1949, Warhol moved to New York City to pursue a career as a commercial artist. His first work appeared in Glamour magazine in September 1949. Throughout the 1950s, he became one of the most successful illustrators of his time, and won numerous awards for his work from the Art Directors Club and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. His clients included Tiffany & Co., The New York Times, I. Miller Shoes, Bonwit Teller, Columbia Records, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Fleming-Joffe, NBC, and others. Much of his commercial work was based on photographs and other source images, a process he would use for the rest of his life. He also employed the delightfully quirky handwriting of his mother Julia in many of his works in this period. She left Pittsbugh for New York City in 1952 and lived with her son, Andy, until her death in 1972.

In 1962 he developed a series of lithographs depicting Campbell soup cans. Later, he began a large series of celebrity portraits, including Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Elizabeth Taylor. He also began his series of "death and disaster" paintings at this time - images of electric chairs, suicides, and car crashes.

Burns takes us through Warhol’s Factory years, which originally began in an abandoned firehouse on East 87th Street and later ended up in a space in Union Square. Hipsters such as film director, Jed Johnson, and singer, Lou Reed, were regulars at the silver-foil lined warehouse space. On June 3, 1968, Valerie Solanas, a writer who had appeared in Warhol's film I, a Man (1967), came into the studio and shot Warhol in the chest, apparently because of a play she had written. He recovered from the near-fatal shooting after a five-hour operation. While recuperating he painted a large series of portraits of Happy Rockefeller, the wife of the Governor of New York.

Warhol died in New York City on February 22, 1987, due to complications following surgery to remove his gall bladder. In 1988, a ten-day auction of his enormous estate of art and antiques raised over 20 million dollars for The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The Andy Warhol Museum was announced in 1989, and opened in Pittsburgh in 1994.

Produced by Diane von Furstenberg and Daniel Wolf, Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film, is worth viewing for some rare insights, images and footage of the man who coined the phrase, “Everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”
Reviewer: Harlan Whatley

 

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