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Robert Rauschenberg retrospective at the Tate Modern

Roy Lichtenstein (left) and Robert Rauschenberg, 1983
(Photographer: Roxanne Lowit)

July 29, 2016: The Tate Modern will be hosting a Robert Rauschenberg retrospective from December 1, 2016 to April 2, 2017. It will be the first Rauschenberg retrospective since his death in 2008.

The work of Rauschenberg and his boyfriend during the 1950s, Jasper Johns, is often considered the link between Abstract Expressionism and Pop. (They split up in 1961 - Johns also had an affair with Mark Lancaster.)

Although in Popism there is an account where Warhol's friend Emile de Antonio tells Warhol that Rauschenberg and Johns kept their distance from Warhol because he was too "swish," Johns later denied that they had ever said that in an interview with Paul Taylor:

Paul Taylor: "... POPism describes his [Warhol's] initial meetings with you. He mentions a kind of chilliness toward him, and that you thought he was swish."

Jasper Johns: "I haven't read the book, so I can't reply to that."

Paul Taylor: "I think he said that both you and Rauschenberg thought he was "a swish."

Jasper Johns: "I would like to see that, to see if he said it or if he said someone else said it."

Paul Taylor: "Perhaps there was an intermediary person that reported it to him."

Jasper Johns: "That's what I think."

Paul Taylor: "Who do you think it was?"

Jasper Johns: "A mutual friend. Initially I met Andy... [when] Bob Rauschenberg and I were working together [on window displays], and one of the jobs that we had gotten was to interpret some of Andy's shoe drawings in a kind of three-dimensional window display..."

Paul Taylor: "So you were interpreting his commercial work commercially at the same time that he was interpreting your art work artistically?

Jasper Johns: "I don't know where he was with his own work at this point, because I didn't see his paintings until later. But at that time he had a kind of audience for his commercial work. It was considered very interesting by a lot of people... they would say that Andy would draw the lines and someone else would blot them, and then it all came out in the Sunday papers, in these ads. And certain people enjoyed them. I think the first person I heard talking about them was Cynthia Feldman, who was married to the composer Morton Feldman... Then at some point after that I was taken to Andy's studio... There were things like the painting of the cosmetic operation on the nose. That's the time at which I first saw his paintings. Now, what am I coming to?"

Paul Taylor: "You were getting around to the 'swish' word, I think."

Jasper Johns: "No, I'm not. I'm not getting around to that at all."

Paul Taylor: "So what did you really think of him?"

Jasper Johns: "What I think is, I don't think that was a proper statement. And I don't believe it's Andy's.

Paul Taylor: " You mean you don't think he actually believed it."

Jasper Johns: "Well, I hope he didn't..." (JJ250)

According to Rauschenberg, he and Johns "were the only people who were not intoxicated with the Abstract Expressionists."

Robert Rauschenberg:

We [Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns) were the only people who were not intoxicated with the Abstract Expressionists. We weren't against them at all, but neither one of us was interested in taking that stance. I think both of us felt there was too much exaggerated emotionalism around their art... My first break was that nobody took me seriously, even though I hung out at the Cedar Tavern, and drove Franz Kline home when he was too drunk. Jasper wasn't taken seriously either, and I was considered a clown. (See "Robert Rauschenberg" section here.)


Robert Rauschenberg, Pelican and the Judson Dance Theater

Robert Rauschenberg erases a de Kooning

Robert Rauschenberg in Jonas Mekas' New Cinema 1 Festival (sometimes referred to as the Expanded Cinema festival)

More on Rauschenberg here.

Details on the Rauschenberg retrospective here.

Myths at the Children's Museum

July 28, 2016: Andy Warhol's "Myths" series of prints are part of the "The Art of Andy Warhol" exhibition that runs at the Long Island Children's Museum through Sunday September 4th.

Children's activities include a recreation of Warhol's Factory where kids can create their own works of art. Blogger Victor Lana shares shares a trip to the exhibition with his children here.

The "Myths" were a portfolio of 10 prints produced in an edition of 200 (plus 30 artist's proofs, 5 printer's proofs, and 5 exhibition proofs) of The Star [Greta Garbo], The Witch [Margaret Hamilton], Howdy Dowdy, Uncle Sam, Superman, Mammy, Dracula, Santa Claus, The Shadow [Andy Warhol] and Mickey Mouse.

There are also a number of "hors commerce" (not for sale) editions of some of the single images and 30 signed and numbered trial proofs (except for Dracula and The Shadow) (FJB122)

Related in subject matter to the "Myths" but not part of the "Myths" portfolio are separate editions of The Shadow and a Double Mickey Mouse. The separate edition of The Shadow was published in an edition of 32 signed and numbered unique prints. The Double Mickey Mouse was published in an edition of 25 signed and numbered unique prints. (FJB124)

It's not known why Warhol did his "Myths" series. In 1980 he had produced a successful portfolio of "Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century." Both series consisted of editions of ten prints in the form of portraits.

Warhol's myths may be a satirical reference to the exploration of myths during the early 1940s by the Abstract Expressionists. (For more on the Ab Ex artists and myths see "Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko paint Myths" and "The Portrait and the Modern Artist.")

Whereas Abstract Expressionists like Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko referenced ancient Greek myths, Warhol portrayed the "myths" that he and most Americans had grown up with. Pop myths. As with his Campbell's Soup Cans, he harked back to the past. He claimed to have eaten Campbell's Soup as a child and the images produced for his "Myths"series are also from the past - mostly based on children's television or radio programs or Hollywood films. Pop Art, with its use of imagery from the 1950s (or before), may have been born of nostalgia. Pop used imagery from the 1950's (or pre-'50s) in artworks produced during one of the most turbulent decades of history - the 1960s.

The exhibition at the LICM also includes, in the KaleidoZone Gallery, an exhibition ("Thinking Like Andy") which explores Warhol's artistic legacy - his "impact on the generations of artists that followed him, including Keith Haring and Jeff Koons." According to the museum's blurb, Artists-in-resident Sandra Carrion and Keith Gamache will "use their art as a jumping off point to educate visitors about Warhol... while encouraging visitors to apply these approaches in their own work."

Details of the exhibition on the website of the Long Island Children's Museum here.

Cinefamily presents Joe Dallesandro in Merry-go-Round

Poster for Jacques Rivette's film, Merry-go-Round, starring Joe Dallesandro and Maria Schneider with music by John Surman

July 27, 2016: Cinefamily in Los Angeles will be showing a non-Warhol movie starring Joe Dallesandro - Merry-go-Round (dir. Jacques Rivette) - at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater on August 11, 2016 at 7:30 pm. It's not just a cameo performance - Joe has a starring role and is featured throughout the film. His co-star is Maria Schneider of Last Tango in Paris fame. After Last Tango, Schneider struggled with drug addition and at one point attempted suicide. Dallesandro remained her fan and friend, however, and pays regular tributes to her on his Facebook page. She died of cancer five years ago.

The film also features a haunting score by British jazz supremo John Surman and Barre Phillips. Surman and Phillips are shown playing in several film clips on their own, spliced into the narrative, with Surman on bass clarinet and Phillips on double bass.

Details on the screening here:

"Warhol by the Book" at the Blanton Museum

July 26, 2016: The exhibition "Warhol by the Book" opens at the Blanton Museum of Art on October 16, 2016 and runs until January 29, 2017. Slideshow and details here.

On&By Andy Warhol review

July 26, 2016: A review of On&By Andy Warhol (ed. Gilda Williams) has been posted on Pop Matters here.

Billy Name tributes and interviews

July 23, 2016: The New York Times has published an obituary for Billy Name here.

There have been so many interviews with Billy over the years that it's difficult to chose a couple of the most interesting ones. The two that come to mind are Sean O'Hagan's interview in The Guardian from last year and the interview that Billie Ray Martin did in 2014. Billie Ray's interview is interesting because Billy Name talks honestly about what the Factory was really like and the friction that existed between certain members of the Factory.

The Guardian interview is here.

Billie Ray Martin's interview is here.

Mary Woronov art exhibition

July 20, 2016: There will be an exhibition of paintings by Warhol star Mary Woronov at The Lodge Gallery in Los Angeles beginning on July 23, 2016 with an an opening reception from 6 - 9 pm. The exhibition runs until the 20th of August. Details on The Lodge website here.

Billy Name has died

July 18, 2016: It is with great sadness that I have to report that Billy Name has died. I first came into contact with Billy soon after this site went up in 2001 and over the years he was always so helpful and encouraging. I will miss him greatly.

Billy's agent, publisher and friend, Dagon James, has kindly sent the following statement:

Dagon James:

"Billy Name passed away peacefully in his sleep in New York, early morning July 18, at the age of 76. I am devastated by the loss of my friend. He was a beautiful soul and a brilliant artist who touched countless people and helped shape the course of modern art and culture from the 1960s onwards..."

R.I.P. Billy.

Billy Name
(Photographer: Michael Polito)

Wonderboy: The life, loves and death of Eric Emerson

Eric Emerson, 1973 (© Chris Stein) (Morrison Hotel Gallery)

July 15, 2016: I have finally finished the piece I was writing on Eric Emerson - "Wonderboy: The life, loves and death of Eric Emerson." The films that Eric appeared in that were either produced or directed by Andy Warhol or Paul Morrissey included The Chelsea Girls, Lonesome Cowboys, San Diego Surf and Heat. (He also appeared in a lesser-known (non-Warhol) soft-core porn film in 1968 with Ingrid Superstar called The Mind Blowers.) After he stopped appearing in Warhol films, he tried to make it as rock n' roll star in the days of "glitter," (or "glam rock" as it was called in the U.K.) but his career was short-lived and he died in 1975. Although his death was reported in the press as a "hit and run," he was a known heroin user and it has been claimed that he actually died of an overdose. The cause of death is explored in the article.

The full article is here.

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