Andy Warhol, Vito Giallo, Nathan Gluck and The Loft Gallery
Vito Giallo worked for the graphic designer, Jack Wolfgang Beck, who had a long loft studio on the top of a five floor walk-up at East 49th Street between First and York. The loft was so big that they were able to start an art gallery, calling it the Loft Gallery. Beck paid the rent and Vito ran the gallery.
Jack, Vito, Nathan Gluck and his friend Clint Hamilton showed work at the gallery - all of whom were illustrators wanting to be fine artists. It was Nathan's idea to also exhibit Andy's work. (UW19)
Andy Warhol exhibited at the Loft at least three times - two group shows that opened on April 9, 1954 and May 17, 1954 and a solo show that opened on October 10, 1954. In Andy Warhol's New York, Thomas Kiedrowski describes Warhol's contribution to the first show as an installation of pyramidal shapes that had fallen to the floor. That description was applied to "Andy's second show" at the Loft during an interview with Vito Giallo in Unseen Warhol, in which the pyramidal shapes were referred to by the interviewer as as Warhol's "Origami" show. (UW20) According to Giallo in Unseen Warhol, the April group show featured Warhol's "pen and ink line drawings, all simple, all outlines" that "were just pinned up to the wall, about eight by ten inches, nothing framed at all" which incorporated Warhol's "blotting technique." Giallo recalled in the Unseen Warhol interview that the 'origami' show was Warhol's second show at the Loft and was his first solo show at the gallery.
Vito Giallo (Unseen Warhol):
He [Andy Warhol] didn’t call it Origami at all. But that’s the best description of it. He would start with a square piece of paper. He would take the paper, and then he would fold it, and somehow he got a lot of pyramids out of it. Then he would open it up one way or another, and some pyramids would be sticking out. Next he would do drawings of heads and people on parts of the pyramids, and he did a lot of marbleizing, oil on water. Finally, he’d hang them up so that they were sticking out from the wall. We used pushpins to hang them up, and they kept falling down; I must have picked those pieces up a hundred times.
I think he threw them all out. He never sold anything at the gallery. Very few of us did. But I know nobody even looked at this show. I thought it was fascinating. I was amazed. It was his turn to do a one-man show, and I thought it would be drawings and paintings, something straightforward. And then those things came in. I was just shocked.’ (UW22)
Thomas Kiedrowski (Andy Warhol's New York):
Artist Vito Giallo appropriated the front room of Jack Wolfgang Beck's large loft space here to hold art exhibits beginning in 1954. Giallo, along with his friends Nathan Gluck and Clint Hamilton, deliberated over who should be invited to be part of the gallery. They decided to ask Andy Warhol to join the collective.
The first show opened on April 9 with seven artists: Beck, Giallo, Jacques B. Willaumez, Edward Rager and three Carnegie Tech alumni: Allan Hugh Clarke, Gillian Jagger, and Andy Warhol. Warhol's work resembled more of an installation than a show of traditional paintings. He drew small figures on pieces of marbled Strathmore paper, then folded them into large pyramidal shapes. The ten or so works were pinned to the wall, but the weight made them fall to the ground more often than not. Reviewers nicknamed the works 'crumpled' drawings, after repeated falling and re-pinning.
On May 17, Warhol was part of a group show including Allan Hugh Clarke and Edward Rager, but this time he illustrated poems and hung them in a conventional manner. They reminded one reviewer of unrefined imitations of Jean Cocteau drawings.
Warhol's last show at the Loft would be his first solo New York show, opening October 10, 1954, and featuring drawings of the famous dancer John Butler. Giallo remembers that they were astounded when John Butler came to the show. The dancer received several drawings from Warhol in 1954.
By the summer of 1955, the Loft Gallery would closed, ending with a show of collages by Clint Hamilton. Giallo, who had managed the gallery , immediately started to work for Warhol... After Giallo left the job in 1956, Warhol employed Nathan Gluck as an assistant until the mid-sixties, paying him the minimum wage as he did with Giallo and later paid assistants. (TKA79, 86)
According to Nathan Gluck, another assistant of Andy's in the fifties, it was Gluck who actually taught Warhol how to marbleize paper: "All you do is sprinkle thinned-out oil paint on water and then lay paper down on top of it or simply immerse it... except when you want a very definite pattern, you use a solvent that can hold the pattern... Andy did these strange marbled things, and then he crumpled them up and just left them around on the floor." Gluck thought that Warhol did this on purpose as an installation, whereas Giallo thought it was the result of the push pins they used to hang them on the wall. It may be that Gluck simply confused this exhibit with the previous one using the blotting technique. In reference to the blotting technique, Gluck thought it was "basically a forerunner of silkscreen - in other words, he [Andy Warhol] moved from one kind of a multiple to a more professional kind of multiple." (UW31)