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26 June, 2013
Andy Warhol and Celebrity
We all seem to have a hunger to know how the "other half" lives. Actually the term is a misnomer in that we usually are referring to celebrities, wealthy ones at that, and they make up far fewer than half our population. In terms of art, there are very few genuine celebrities alive today and those who are guard their private lives desperately. It's only when a celebrity passes on that we sometimes get a glimpse into their closely guarded private lives. It usually takes an author to pry into such things and one such author is Robert Colacello. The artist whose life he is prying into was a friend and colleague who helped him found Interview Magazine--Andy Warhol.

Along with Picasso, Dali, and maybe two or three more, Warhol leads the list of true painter-celebrities of this century. Some artists, like Warhol, thrive on their celebrity status. Most abhor it. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn't Warhol who invented the term "fifteen minutes of fame", but it was he who celebrated it...as often as possible. We are already familiar with his legendary soup cans, Brillo boxes, and celebrity Pop portraits. We're almost as familiar with his chauffeur-driven forays to flea markets and garage sales where he amassed his phenomenal cookie jar collection. Besides his groundbreaking Pop Art paintings and photographic silk-screens, Warhol's artistic interest also extended into Avant-garde filmmaking and publishing. Recently, Warhol's East Side, New York City townhouse was awarded its "fifteen minutes of fame" as a plaque was mounted to its red brick fašade declaring it a National Historic Landmark. Warhol bought the five-story townhouse in 1974 for $310,000. He lived there until his death in 1989 following gall bladder surgery. He would have been 70 today.

Living there with him was interior designer, Jed Johnson, plus two dachshunds, Amos and Archie. His favourite room was the kitchen, where he was in the habit of eating, even before going out to eat. He seldom ate anything other than white foods such as cottage cheese, apples, turkey breast, white bread, and popcorn (little wonder he had gall bladder problems). According to a onetime confidant who was privileged to access Warhol's private domain, he was not the "neat" person usually seen in his public image. His home was littered with used batteries, Polaroid film, and in his bathroom, a collection of pimple medicine of epic proportions. He slept in a bed with a dark brown canopy while on his night stand were two crucifixes, two alarm clocks, and a box of dog biscuits.

Contributed by Lane, Jim
6 August 1998

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