Inside Andy Warhol
by Sterling McIlhenny and Peter Ray
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The following interview with Andy Warhol appeared in the men's magazine, Cavalier, in 1966.
(The original article also included an introduction by Nat Finkelstein.)
The current website for Cavalier magazine can be found at: http://cavmag.com.
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To conduct the interview that follows we took our tape recorder to the "Factory," as Warhol calls his studio, which is located on the fourth floor of a rickety loft building in Manhattan's east forties. The interior of the Factory - walls, ceiling, and floor - and everything in it, is painted silver or covered with a veneer of Reynolds Wrap - which produces a curiously timeless, abstract feeling. About the only furniture, aside from a few props left over from movie-making, is a couple of pieces in the 1930's 'moderne' style - a lucite-and-glass china cabinet and the semi-circular couch on which we conducted the interview. In the center of the Factory six or seven youths, male and female, all sporting tight pants and long hair, were languidly frugging to the Beatles' latest number, blasting from a loudspeaker.
A few minutes after we arrived, the silver door to the Factory opened and Andy Warhol stepped in to offer us an inanimate handshake. Except for his hair, which, like the interior of the Factory, seems to sport an applied silver color, Warhol creates a completely unobtrusive presence. He is pale and slight. He uses few gestures, speaks softly, sometimes almost inaudibly, and wears dark glasses indoors and out. It is almost impossible to tell whether the aura of bland self-concealment that surrounds him is a mask assumed to create a paradox or, true paradox, is simply like the real man himself.
This interview may be read as a Pop Art psychodrama. The cast of characters includes, besides the subject, a number of Assistants to the Artist, who, abandoning the Beatles, draped themselves around our couch.
Before we could get our tape recorder warmed up, Andy Warhol produced his own transistorised set and placed the microphone before us.
Andy Warhol: Have you ever been taped before?
Cavalier: No. At any rate not as a part of the underground movement.
Andy Warhol: We should make a video tape of this interview at the same time so we could look at it.
Cavalier: This is a very interesting looking place, although the Reynolds Wrap seems to be coming loose here. Is there any particular meaning behind everything being painted silver?
Andy Warhol: Well, you might say I have a fondness for silver, or even gold for that matter.
Cavalier: The gold seems to be well hidden. Where did you get this cellophane-wrapped couch?
Andy Warhol: It just arrived one day. Apparently someone made a mistake in the address and had it delivered here.
Cavalier: You didn't tell them it was a mistake?
Andy Warhol: No. We didn't want them to have to move something that heavy again after they'd already brought it here.
Cavalier: About when did the Pop Art movement begin?
Andy Warhol: I guess about five years ago.
Cavalier: Salvador Dali has been quoted as saying that he is the father of Pop Art. Have you any comment on that?
Andy Warhol: I don't know. He's certainly been around a long time. But it's hard to understand what he is saying most of the time.
Cavalier: What were the first Pop Art things you did?
Andy Warhol: I did comic strips and ads. A great many artists were working on different ideas at the same time. Things just fell together to create the Pop Art movement.
Cavalier: Why did you start with comic strips? Were you interested in them as an entertainment medium or, as some intellectuals regard them, a kind of illustrated modern mythology?
Andy Warhol: I don't know. Just as comic strips, that's all. They were things I knew and they are relatively easy to draw or, better still, to trace. I also did movie stars - Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Troy Donahue - during my 'death' period. Marilyn Monroe died then. I felt that Elizabeth Taylor was going to die too, after her operation. I thought that there were a lot of people who were going to die - like Troy Donahue.
Cavalier: Why did you think Troy Donahue was going to die?
Andy Warhol: I don't know. He just looked like it. I concentrated on a series of Marilyn Monroe. She fascinated me as she did the rest of America. I did about forty paintings of her. Most of them are in gallery shows and private collections. But I still have some of them myself.
Cavalier: Are they all different?
Andy Warhol: Most of them are. I used photographs. I made multiple-color silk screen paintings - like my comic strip technique. Why don't you ask my assistant Gerry Malanga some questions? He did a lot of my paintings.
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