A few years ago, I saw the film 'Factory Girl'. A bio pic about one of Warhol's most famous muses, Edie Sedgewick. She was beautiful, rich, talented and completely bedazzled by Warhol. He took her under his wing and as I saw it, sucked her dry. He helped her spend all her money, watched her, extracted the beauty from her and then threw her away poor and drug dependant. A combination that would eventually lead to her death, by overdose in 1971. That is how I saw it then. How it was depicted in the film. After my own research, I discovered young Edie was perhaps not as innocent as we were led to believe. She had a colourful past and perhaps a penchant for self destruction. If it wasn't Andy who'd led her to ruin, it would have been someone else, or even herself.
The film 'Factory Girl' is somewhat fiction, as most real life bio pics are. Some parts were portrayed truthfully though, like Andy's desire to quietly watch people.
When I saw that Warhol's works were to be on display at Te Papa, I just had to go and see them for myself. There is something to be said about seeing artworks for real, in the flesh. It is the difference between listening to a musician at home on the stereo and going to see them live. No matter how big you print it off, no matter how clear it looks on your computer screen, it is just not the same as seeing a painting for real, in actual size, on the wall.
I wanted my lover-man to come with me, but he is a bit of a sourpuss when it comes to modern art. If it wasn't done pre 1800's he ain't interested. Which is funny because all the art that I do is rather modern.
"I am not paying good money to go see that bloody can of soup" he said.
Fine. I will go with my friend then!
I found it interesting that there were also sketches that Warhol had done after art school when he worked as a commercial artist for an advertising company. I found this very interesting. Money is not talked about much in creative communities. "It is all about the art man. Money is for sell outs." That is all very well and good but tell that to the landlord when he wants his rent or to the bank when the mortgage is due. You need money to live. When I think of Warhol, financial practicality never really comes to mind. I think of a mad creative who made a world of fantasy and lived his art. But clearly there was a sense of financial awareness about him if he went down that path of making money from his art in a commercial way.
I was super excited that a lot of Warhol's 'screen tests' were included in the exhibition. Film was one of Warhol's main mediums, though none of his films were commercially successful. He was using the medium in a different way than how it is used for movies. He wasn't so much making films as he was using film to portray life in it's reality. Hence why Warhol is dubbed as 'the man who creating reality TV.' Warhol's Screen Tests were two minutes of continuous filming of Factory regulars. Actors, actresses, musicians or anyone Warhol believed to have 'star power', were filmed silently looking at the camera. Well known Screen Test participants include: Dennis Hopper, Bob Dylan, Donovan, Nico, Lou Reed and Yoko Ono.
I got to record my own 'Screen Test' too. Though, I don't think I have quite as much Star Power as Andy's Factory friends.
The best part of taking the time to go and see other people work is that it dares you to consider trying new things with your own work. I for one want to try screen printing again. I haven't tried it for over 10 years. Must be time for another go!