I gave myself a Christmas present of the Kindle e-reader so that I could read books and manuscripts on an overseas research trip; overall it worked really well and cut down on the weight of my luggage tremendously. It does have drawbacks, such as not being able to read when planes are in the “no electronic devices” stages of flight, and it’s not suitable at all for illustrated books. I’m afraid it’s not great for magazines either, but the lengthy profile of Andy Warhol in the current edition of The New Yorker worked just fine. You’ll need to buy or borrow a print or electronic copy to read it (you can cancel the Kindle subscription at no cost within 14 days…), but for Warhol fans it may be worth it. Here’s an abstract:
ABSTRACT: A CRITIC AT LARGE about recent books on Andy Warhol. After Warhol graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon), in 1949, he moved to New York where he found work as an illustrator. By 1960, Warhol had become one of the most successful commercial artists in New York. But he had fine-art aspirations. Warhol’s break finally came in 1962 with a one-man exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. This was “32 Campbell’s Soup Cans.” A New York show soon followed, and by 1964, the year he exhibited the “Brillo Soap Pads Box” sculptures, he was being written up in Time. Warhol had already begun making movies. He also produced the Velvet Underground. In the mid-nineteen-sixties, his studio, on East Forty-Seventh Street, known as the Factory, was a center of avant-garde activity. Within the Factory, Warhol was known as Drella, after the two sides of his personality, Dracula and Cinderella. Then, in 1968, a paranoid schizophrenic named Valerie Solanas shot Warhol and nearly killed him. Although he returned to painting and a jet-set social life, his work was never again on the leading edge of the contemporary arts. He died in New York Hospital, after a routine operation, in 1987. He was fifty-eight. There are some terrific books about Warhol, including Warhol’s own wonderfully funny and clever memoir, written with Pat Hackett, “POPism.” “Pop: The Genius of Andy Warhol” by Tony Scherman and David Dalton, is, basically, the familiar story. It is not as richly informative as Steven Watson’s “Factory Made,” or as critically imaginative as Wayne Koestenbaum’s “Andy Warhol,” but it is knowledgeable and smart, and it’s a lot of fun to read. Discusses two problems faced by anyone writing about Warhol. First, it should be a rule when writing about Warhol never to take anything he said completely seriously. Second, there is the significance of the iconography. Soup cans, Coca-Cola bottles, grocery cartons, movie stars. Did he paint this stuff because he thought it was great or because he thought it was junk? Mentions Gary Indiana’s book “Andy Warhol and the Can That Sold the World.” Discusses the opposing theories about Pop Art put forward by Arthur Danto and Clement Greenberg and considers Warhol’s place in relation to other twentieth-century artists, such as Marcel Duchamp and Jasper Johns.