Andy Warhol Pre-Pop
by Gary Comenas
Warhol's third and final exhibition at the Bodley took place the year after Wallowitch's nervous breakdown. The "Wild Raspberries" show ran from December 2 - 24, 1959 and was accompanied by a self-published limited edition book of the same name.
WILD RASPBERRIES (1959)
The book, Wild Raspberries, was a collaboration between Andy Warhol and Suzie Frankfurt. Suzie's husband, Stephen O. Frankfurt was an art director at New York's Young & Rubicam's advertising agency before becoming the president of the company. In addition to collaborating with Suzie on Wild Raspberries, Warhol also worked on Young and Rubicam's advertising campaign for Modess during the same year.1
Suzie Frankfurt, born Suzanne Allen on August 21, 1931 in Los Angeles, had worked as a researcher at Young & Rubicam. She had seen Warhol's work displayed at Serendipity and later met the artist at the Plaza Hotel. She liked Andy because she'd "always felt" that she was an "outsider" and Warhol was often perceived in the same way. But, she would later say that "The only reason Andy liked me was because I was raised in Malibu with movie stars like Myrna [Loy] all around." Suzie divorced her husband in 1968, but kept in touch with Warhol during the 70s and 80s, working as an interior decorator whose clients included the actor, Robert Redford and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. "I made Russian chic" she told a reporter for W magazine in 1993. "Now it's too chic." She died on January 7, 2005 at the Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale in the Bronx, having become incapacitated several years prior to her death after treatment for a brain tumor.2
Wild Raspberries featured Warhol's hand colored illustrations of food items accompanied by whimsical faux recipes. The recipe for "Piglet" for instance, was "Contact Trader Vic's and order a 40 pound suckling pig to serve 15. Have Hanley take the Carey Cadillac to the side entrance and receive the pig at exactly 6:45. Rush home immediately and place on the open spit for 50 minutes. Remove and garnish with fresh crab apples."3
As with his other self-published books, Warhol's drawings in Wild Raspberries were coloured in by friends at colouring parties, including the actor, Tom Lacy, who worked at Bonwit Teller at the time, along with the jewelry designer Kenneth J. Lane, and the pianist Ivan Davis.4
GRANDVILLE AND CAREME
Nathan Gluck thought the images might have been inspired by books Warhol had purchased from a bookseller named Cane who had also provided the books which Gluck thought had inspired at least some of the drawings in one of Warhol's previously self-published books, In the Bottom of My Garden. According to Gluck, Warhol had purchased "a few books on elaborate French cooking - where you have these tremendous and elaborate dishes, which the French call 'presamment' and where you have cakes that are built like grottos or huge roasts that are decorated with things. And those in a sense, prompted his other book called Wild Raspberries, which was a play on words of the Ingmar Bergman movie which was current at the time, which was called Wild Strawberries. And a lot of these drawings were really adapted from them."5
"There was... one which was called Le Patissier pittoresque [by Grandville], and by Antonin Careme, and it was a very old book - 1800s... And what it was, was a picture of all these crazy cakes. You know, that are built up like Greek temples and things like that. Andy had a copy of that. Then he had... [Gluck produces a copy of Larousse gastronomique.] Now, you see this kind of thing. That inspired the pictures in the recipe book. Now this one happens to be Careme. But he had a two volume set. I think it was a book called Urban Dubois, La Cuisine classique. That's... 1856. And these are three books that I remember Andy having, with old engravings.6
Warhol's Wild Raspberries show was not the success he hoped for. The New York Times described the drawings as "clever frivolity in excelsis."7 and efforts at selling the book were not very fruitful.
"We published it [Wild Raspberries] ourselves... And he [Andy Warhol] and I went around with shopping bags full of books and tried to sell them, and nobody wanted them, nobody was interested in them at the time."8
EMILE DE ANTONIO
Toward the end of 1959 Tina S. Fredericks introduced Warhol to Emile De Antonio. Warhol would later credit De Antonio with inspiring him to become both a fine artist and filmmaker.
Emile De Antonio (1944)
Emile De Antonio:
"In 1946, as millions of Americans march out of uniform, the arts were in the air in New York as they had never been before... In painting, legends were already sprouting: Pollock, de Kooning, Kline. Crowds drifted after them to the bars, the Cedar and later to Dillion's... I joined the ex-GI bohemian world. Not de Kooning's, not Pollock's. Picassoid forms swirled where I was, on Thompson and Spring Streets. Glass in hand, I squinted at enchanted, inauthentic abstraction and realism - the canvases of my friends, young veterans... The talk was high, the spirits free, the drink plentiful... I had met Warhol in 1958 through Tina Fredericks. When she had been art director at Glamour, Andy appeared with his portfolio. Tina looked at it and said... 'I need some drawings of shoes...' Little did she know the wellsprings she had stirred. Andy not only loved shoes, he loved feet. His house was full of shoes. The first day I was there I picked up a pair. 'What are these? A prop of some kind?' They were Carmen Miranda's... When I first knew Andy, he lived in a house at Eighty-Ninth and Lexington, next door to the national Fertility Institute. He came to my small dinner parties at which I served smoked salmon, Dom Perignon, and grass. Andy did extraordinary menus that were the size of paintings, big enough to frame... Andy remembered everything; he read every gossip column..."9
1342 LEXINGTON AVENUE
Although De Antonio says in the above quote that he met Warhol in 1958, it was more likely 1959. In 1978, De Antonio told interviewer Patrick S. Smith that he "knew" Warhol "sometime in 1959 with Tina [Fredericks]."10 In 1980 he wrote in an article for the Village Voice that "Tina Fredericks introduced me to Andy in 1959."11 The home described by De Antonio was, according to Andy's brother Paul Warhola, purchased in 1960.12 Paul moved Warhol's belongings into the new property on August 30, 1960 using a one-ton GM rental van during the night time so as to get a parking space. (SCix) It was the first property that Warhol owned, purchased outright for $60,000.13 Warhol's mother, who had lived with him at his previously rented apartment on East 75th Street, also lived with him at the Lexington Avenue address.
Emile De Antonio would later become known as the director of controversial political documentaries such as Point of Order (1964) and Millhouse (1971). In 1972 he also made Painters Painting, a documentary featuring an interview with Warhol which focused on an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940 - 1970," curated by Henry Geldzahler. During the making of the film De Antonio asked Warhol, "When I first knew you, you weren't painting, and then you did become a painter. I wonder if you can tell me why that happened..." Warhol responded, "Well you made me a painter... You used to gossip about the art people and that's how I found out about art."14 However, although the gossip-fueled art world appealed to Warhol, he had been trying to break into the "art world" since his first exhibition in 1952, well before he knew De Antonio. One of the promotional items he produced in 1955 for Vanity Fair Lingerie was a folder proclaiming "Happy Butterfly Day." Inside the folder was a gold stamped message: "This Vanity Fair Butterfly Folder was designed for your desk by Andy Warhol, whose paintings are exhibited in many leading museums and contemporary galleries."15 It was a lie, of course, but indicative of Warhol's early desire to be known as a fine artist rather than just a commercial illustrator.
When he first met Warhol, De Antonio was known principally as an ad hoc artist's agent and had a reputation as a drinker and "ladies man." By the time he met Tina S. Fredericks in 1954, he already had two children from two different wives - one of whom was Mimi Vanderbilt. Fredericks had left Glamour and was working for the Ladies Home Journal at the time she met "De."
Tina S. Fredericks:
"In 1954, at my job as picture editor of the Ladies Home Journal, I had met De - short for Emile De Antonio. An artists' agent, he was a catalyst who could, almost miraculously, put his finger on what direction talent ought to take - and he turned out to be equally adept in putting people together productively. He had brought Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg to Leo Castelli. He led Gene Moore and Antonucci to Philip Johnson - and that brilliantly talented duo designed the graphics and ashtrays for the Four Seasons and invented the magic of tiny dancing Christmas tree lights in the forest among the fountains of the Seagram Building on Park Avenue. De had an uncanny capacity for instant intimacy, and when I introduced him to Andy, they became immediate friends. Andy recollected, 'De was the first person I know of to see commercial art as real art and real art as commercial art, and he made the whole New York art world see it that way, too.' And De said, 'I don't know why you don't become a painter, Andy - you've got more ideas than anybody around.'16
JASPER JOHNS & ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG
Although Fredericks' claimed that it was De Antonio who "brought Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg to Leo Castelli" Castelli's own account of his involvement with those artists did not mention De Antonio.
"Robert Rauschenberg first appeared in my life when I saw his now famous white paintings at the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1951... That same year I helped organize a show that came to be known as the Ninth Street Show, a celebration of Abstract Expressionism that centred around the work of de Kooning and Franz Kline. I decided to include Rauschenberg in that show, even though at the time the work seemed to have little to do with the Abstract Expressionist dogma... In March 1957 Meyer Schapiro assembled a show of the younger generation Abstract Expressionists. It was held at the Jewish Museum and included Rauschenberg, whose 'red' show at the Egan Gallery two years before I had greatly admired... But there was one painting in the show that puzzled me. It was a green painting done in an unfamiliar medium: wax. I couldn't quite make out what it meant, nor had I heard of the name that appeared next to it: Jasper Johns. I thought about that painting long after I went home. I just couldn't get it out of my mind. Two or three days after seeing the show at the Jewish Museum, I went down to Rauschenberg's studio to select paintings for a show that I was planning to do. Somehow, the name Jasper Johns came up, and I told Bob about the green painting I'd seen. 'Jasper Johns?' His studio is just below mine.' Jasper later came in to bring ice for the drinks and I suggested going down to see what he was doing... It was an extraordinary experience: incredibly mature paintings by a young man of twenty-seven, many of them done since 1955... I was bowled over. Then and there I asked him [Johns] to join the gallery."17
In 1954, when De Antonio first met Fredericks, he had not yet met Johns or Rauschenberg. He first came across them in 1955 when he was organizing a John Cage concert at Clarkstown High School in upstate New York. De Antonio had befriended Cage when they lived near to each other in Rockland County, NY, where De lived with his third wife, the designer Lois Long. Rauschenberg and Johns were working on the stage set the day before the concert which took place in October 1955. The three became friends and, calling themselves Impressarios Inc., produced the "25 Year Retrospective Concert of the Music of John Cage" at the Town Hall in Manhattan on May 15, 1958. A three album boxed set of the retrospective, recorded by George Avakian, was also released.18
Prior to moving to Rockland County, De Antonio had lived in New York during the 1940s, studying philosophy and literature at Columbia University after serving in the military. He had joined the Marine Corps in May 1942, but by August of the same year, had already been discharged - for drunkenness and going AWOL to visit his first wife, Ruth Baumann, whom he had married in 1939. In October 1942 he re-enlisted in the military, this time serving with the Army Air Force. While in the force his father died leaving him a sizeable inheritance. He left the military in 1946, divorced his wife Ruth, and then enrolled at Columbia. Although he had also attended Harvard before joining the military, he had been suspended from the university for drunkenness and starting a fire in the university's dormitory.19 After divorcing Ruth, he married Adrienne (Mimi) Vanderbilt for a short time before divorcing her to marry Lois Long - the third of a total of six wives.
PULL MY DAISY (1959)
By the time that De Antonio met Warhol in 1959, he was extending his artistic interests to film, becoming the distributor of the Beat movie classic, Pull My Daisy, which featured poets Gregory Corso and Allen Ginsberg in the cast, along with Ginsberg's lover, Peter Orlovsky, the artists Alice Neel and Larry Rivers, and the art dealer, Richard Bellamy. Narrated by Jack Kerouac and directed by artists Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie, the 28 minute film was originally to be titled The Beat Generation, but the copyright to that title was already owned by MGM who released a fictional B-movie by that name in 1959 - the same year that Pull My Daisy was released.20
NEW AMERICAN CINEMA GROUP
When Jonas Mekas formed the New American Cinema Group in September, 1960, De Antonio was put in charge of film distribution.21
Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso and Allen Ginsberg
in Pull My Daisy (1959)
Emile De Antonio:
"I joined the New American Cinema being formed by Jonas Mekas. I met Lionel Rogosin, Shirley Clarke... and others. I already knew Alfred Leslie and Robert Frank... I had been a friend of avant-garde painters and musicians of New York from long before the New American Cinema. I knew John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Jasper Johns, Bob Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and many others before they had galleries. I knew little of the film world and did not like what I knew. I had been a Marxist since I was sixteen years old, but it's very tough occupying that space with intensity over a long period of time, particularly in Stalin's day. I wasn't a professional revolutionary at all but an artist looking for his art. I saw Robert Frank's Pull My Daisy. Robert knew many of the people I knew... Pull My Daisy was a strange and important moment for me. I loved it for being stripped bare. I was not a fan of Kerouac, whom I knew. I thought the soundtrack of Pull My Daisy, which he wrote and spoke, was the best thing he ever did. Better than On the Road. I was tremendously excited and wanted to make a film."22
De Antonio left the New American Cinema group shortly after joining it to pursue his own film projects.
SUNDAY BY DAN DRASIN
De Antonio's first project was producing and distributing a film titled Sunday directed by teenager filmmaker, Dan Drasin. De Antonio took Warhol to see the film at Jonas Mekas' Filmmakers Co-operative. His visit was recalled by Pat Hackett in Popism.
Andy Warhol (via Pat Hackett in Popism):
"Although I didn't buy a movie camera till some time in '63, it had certainly occurred to me to be a do-it-yourself filmmaker long before then, probably because of De. His interest had started to shift from art to movies around '60. For five hundred dollars he'd managed to produce a movie called Sunday that a friend of his, Dan Drasin, had made about the Sunday the police had suddenly outlawed folk singing in Washington Square park because they said it brought out a lot of undesirable types - meaning blacks and folk singers - and so everybody had congregated down there to protest. It was one of the first "rebellions" of the sixties. De had taken me over to the Film-Makers' Co-operative to see a screening of Sunday."23
Warhol was impressed by the fact that De Antonio could make a movie for as little as $500. He would, in fact, make a "do-it-yourself" movie of De Antonio in January 1965 when De Antonio suggested to Warhol that he film him drinking a quart of Scotch whiskey in twenty minutes. The film ended with "De" collapsed on the floor in a drunken stupor.
Emile De Antonio in Drink (1965)
(Photo: Billy Name)
Andy Warhol (via Pat Hackett in Popism):
"... I called the movie Drink so it could be a trilogy with my Eat and Sleep. When the little old lady we used as a go-between brought it back from the lab, I called De to come over and see it. He said, 'I'm bringing my woman and an English friend and I hope no one else will be there.' There was no one at the Factory right then anyway, except for Billy [Name] and Gerard [Malanga] and me and a couple of people who looked like they were on their way out. But as soon as I hung up, a gang of Gerard's friends happened to walk in, and by the time De got there, there were around forty people all over the place. We ran the film and after it was over, De said to me, 'I'll probably sue you if you ever screen it publicly again.' I knew he'd never sue me, of course, but that was his way of telling me not to have a print made of it."24
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