Andy Warhol by Wayne Koestenbaum
(Penguin Lives)

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The sixties were the "sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll" era, and Andy Warhol was its cultural icon. Painter, filmmaker, photographer, philosopher, Warhol was both celebrity and celebrant, the man who put the "pop" in art. His studio, The Factory, where his free-spirited cast of "superstars" mingled with the rich and famous, was ground zero for the explosions that rocked American cultural life. And yet for all his fame, Warhol was an enigma: a participant in the excesses of his time who remained a faithful churchgoer, a nearly inarticulate man who was also a great aphorist ("In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes"), an artist whose body of work sizzles with sexuality but whose own body was a source of shame and self-hatred.

In his bravura account of Warhol's life and work, scholar and culture critic Wayne Koestenbaum gets past the contradictions and reveals the man beneath the blond wig and dark glasses. Nimbly weaving brilliant and witty analysis into an absorbing narrative, Koestenbaum makes a convincing case for Warhol as a serious artist, one whose importance goes beyond the sixties. Focusing on Warhol's provocative, powerful films (many of which have been out of circulation since their initial release), Koestenbaum shows that Warhol's oeuvre, in its variety of form (films, silkscreens, books, "happenings"), maintains a striking consistency of theme: Warhol discovered in classic American images (Brillo boxes, Campbell soup cans, Marilyn's face) a secret history, the erotic of time and space.

About Wayne Koestenbaum

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He is professor of English at the Graduate Center of the city University of New York & lives in New York City.
Published January 1, 2001 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson. 160 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Andy Warhol

Publishers Weekly

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With at least two full-scale biographies in addition to his own voluminous writings in print, it might seem that there is little new to say about the life and career of mass market voyeur Warhol. K

Aug 06 2001 | Read Full Review of Andy Warhol (Penguin Lives)

Publishers Weekly

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"I always feel that my words are coming from behind me, not from me"—this expertly chosen and edited first collection of interviews with inarguably the most influential artist of his and our time shows that for Warhol (1928–1987) the interview was an art form like any other.

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Publishers Weekly

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Throughout, Koestenbaum's engagements with Warhol's life and art, tinged with poetic brilliance and surgical dispassion ("these accessories gave [Warhol] an alien aura, as if his vital fluids and gases had been evacuated"), feel very high-stakes indeed, making this book an engrossing battle of wi...

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London Review of Books

‘It’s just like taking the outside and putting it on the inside,’ Warhol said early on about Pop, ‘or taking the inside and putting it on the outside.’ This elliptical remark might be understood literally – at one point Koestenbaum interprets his ‘entire oeuvre as an externalisation, crisply dist...

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