The Guardian has an excellent review by Kathryn Hughes of the new Andy Warhol biography: A Life As Art by Blake Gopnik.
Warhol exploded the art scene and art business; his pieces (in painting, advertising, design, movies) and style are everywhere and he made himself as popular and expensively collectable as Picasso. Gopnik’s book takes a thousand pages to explain why he is so important.
“Far from being a ready-made, assembled from the detritus of the scholarly-industrial complex, Warhol: A Life As Art is the product of years studying 100,000 or so original documents housed in Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum. The artist was a lifelong hoarder, and Gopnik’s research is intricately based on a florid haul of engagement diaries, business letters, love notes, theatre tickets and tax returns.”
There are numerous examples given of Warhol’s quirks:
“It is a testimony to Blake Gopnik’s skill that he is able to acknowledge how silly these provocations sound while simultaneously insisting on their enduring art historical significance. Dressing up as a box of Brillo may count as a stunt, but Gopnik, a veteran critic and contributor to the New York Times, sees it as the logical extension of Marcel Duchamp’s gesture 50 years earlier when he exhibited a porcelain pissoir as art. Responding to someone’s standard greeting with a detailed report on your bowel movements may be childish but it also pointedly disrupts the genteel discourse of a rapidly capitalising art market. The fact that today we are inclined to roll our eyes at such anecdotes is evidence not of Warhol’s nullity, but of his continuing ubiquity.”
“Whether we like it or not, we are still living in his world.”