In November, 1979, Andy's last major exhibition of the decade, Portraits of the 70s opened at the Whitney Museum. This time the art world had to pay attention, though for the most part, they didn't like what they saw. Robert Hughes delivered what he thought was a mortal blow in Time magazine:
"Warhol's admirers, who include David Whitney, the show's organizer, are given to claiming that Warhol has 'revived' the social portrait as a form. It would be nearer the truth to say that he zipped it into a Halston, painted its eyelids and propped it up in the back of a limo, where it moves but cannot speak..."
Andy's reaction: "They gave me two whole pages. With three photographs. In color."
A day or two later, he came into my office and said, "Oh, I figured out why Bob Hughes hates us. You must have written something mean about him in Out [Bob Colacello's column in Interview magazine].
I recalled a reference, from a couple of years back, to the critic's tie not matching his shirt. "That's it, Bob," said Andy. "People really care about those things. They really do. Especially intellectuals." (BC431)
After the 1979 Whitney exhibition, Warhol's commissioned portrait business continued to flourish:
After the 1979 Whitney show, the private-portrait business hit new heights. I estimate that in the early eighties Andy was painting about fifty clients a year. At $40,000 for a two-panel portrait - and many clients commissioned four or more - that added another $2 million to the annual total... Between 1980 and 1982, I sold almost a million dollars in art myself, most of it commissioned portraits... Maria Luisa de Romans, back in 1972, now sent me her younger sister, Leleta Marinotti, as well as the Bertis, who were the leading manufacturers of industrial dishwashers in Italy. She also talked Iolas into commissioning the Alexander the Great paintings and prints, another substantial deal. I split my commission with some of these helpful ladies; Andy rewarded others with their own portraits. (BC446-7)