Warhol 1928 - 1987
Warhol Art & Prints
- The Last Interview
Flash Art - 1987
excerpt from "After Andy: SoHo in the Eighties" - by Paul Taylor
PAUL TAYLOR - : You are going to be showing your Last Supper paintings
in Milan this year.
ANDY WARHOL - :Yes
When did you make the paintings?
I was working on them all year. They were supposed to be shown in December,
then January. Now I dont know when.
Are they painted?
I dont know. Some were painted, but theyre not going to show
the painted ones. Well use the silk-screened ones.
On some of them you have camouflage over the top of the images.
Why is that?
ANDY WARHOL -
I had some leftover camouflage.
From the self-portraits?
Did you do any preparatory drawings for them?
Yeah, I tried. I did about forty paintings.
They were all preparatory?
Its very odd to see images like this one doubled.
Theyre just the small ones.
The really big one is where there are images upside down and the right
Its odd because you normally see just one Jesus at a time.
Now there are two.
Like the two Popes?
The European Pope and the American Pope.
Did you see Dokoupils show at Sonnabend Gallery?
(I am starting to loose track of this, sorry . your on
your own from here ed.)
Oh no, I havent gone there yet. I want to go on Saturday.
It might be the last day. There you will see two Jesuses on crucifixes,
one beside the other.
And he explained to me something like how it was transgressive to have
two Jesuses in the same picture.
He took the words out of my mouth.
Youre trying to be transgressive?
In America, you could be almost as famous as Charles Manson. Is there any
similarity between you at the Factory and Jesus at the Last Supper?
Thats negative, to me its negative. I dont want to talk
about negative things.
Well, what about these happier days at the present Factory? Now youre
a corporation president.
Its the same.
Why did you do the Last Supper?
Because [Alexander] Iolas asked me to do the Last Supper. He got a gallery
in front of the other Last Supper, and he asked three or four people to
do Last Suppers.
Does the Last Supper theme mean anything in particular to you?
No. Its a good picture.
What do you think about those books and articles, like Stephen Kochs
Stargazer, and a 1964 Newsweek piece called Saint Andrew, that
bring up the subject of Catholicism?
I dont know. Stephen Kochs book was interesting because he
was able to write a whole book about it. He has a new book out which Im
trying to buy to turn into a screenplay. I think its called The Brides
Bachelors or some Duchampy title. Have you read it yet?
No, I read the review in The New York Times Book Review.
What did it say?
It was okay.
Yeah? Whats it about?
Stephen Koch described it to me himself. He said it was about a heterosexual
Rauschenberg figure in the sixties, a magnetic artist who has qualities
of a lot of sixties artists. He has an entourage. I dont know the
Ive been meaning to call him and see if he can tell me the story
and send me the book.
Whos making a screenplay?
We thought that we might be able to do it.
Its a great idea. Would you be able to get real people to play themselves
I dont know. It might be good.
Do you have screenwriters here?
We just bought Tama Janowitzs book called Slaves of New York.
Does that mean youre going back into movie production?
Were trying. But actually what were working on is our video
show which MTV is buying.
No, its called Andy Warhols Fifteen Minutes. It was on Thursday
last week and its showing again Monday and itll be shown two
more times: December, and were doing one for January.
Do you make them?
No, Vincent works on them. Vincent Fremont.
Do you look through the camera on these things at all?
Whats your role?
Just interviewing people.
If there was a movie made out of Stephen Kochs novel, what would
be your role in it?
I dont know. Id have to read it first.
Its not usual for business people to talk about these deals before
they make them.
I dont care if anyone ... theres always another book.
I saw Ileana [Sonnabend] today and asked her what I should ask you, and
she said, I dont know. For Andy everything is equal.
How do you describe that point of view?
I dont know. If she said it shes right. (laughs)
It sounds Zennish.
Zennish? Whats that?
Zennish. Thats a good word. Thats a good title for ... my new
What about your transformation from being a commercial artist to a real
Im still a commercial artist. I was always a commercial artist.
Then whats a commercial artist?
I dont know someone who sells art.
So almost all artists are commercial artists, just to varying degrees.
I think so.
Is a better commercial artist one who sells more work?
I dont know. When I started out, art was going down the drain. The
people who used to do magazine illustrations and the covers were being replaced
by photographers. And when they started using photographers, I started to
show my work with galleries. Everybody also was doing window decoration.
That led into more galleries. I had some paintings in a window, then in
Is there a parallel situation now?
No, it just caught on so well that theres a new gallery open every
day now. There are a lot more artists, which is real great.
What has happened to the idea of good art?
Its all good art.
Is that to say that its all equal?
Yeah well, I dont know, I cant .
.. Youre not interested in making distinctions.
Well no, I just cant tell the difference. I dont see why one
Jasper Johns sells for three million and one sells for, you know, like,
four hundred thousand. They were both good paintings.
The market for your work has changed a little in the last few years. To
people my age in their twenties you were always more important
than to the collecting group of people in their fifties and sixties.
Well, I think the people who buy art now are these younger kids who have
a lot of money.
And thats made a difference in your market.
Yeah, a little bit.
How important is it for you to maintain control?
Ive been busy since I started since I was a working artist.
If I wasnt showing in New York I was doing work in Germany, or I was
What I mean is that as more and more artists come up, and as new galleries
open every day, the whole idea of what an artist is changes. Its no
longer so special, and maybe a more special artist is one who maintains
more control of his or her work.
I dont know. It seems like every year theres one artist for
that year. The people from twenty years ago are still around. I dont
know why. The kids nowadays theres just one a year. They stay
around, they just dont ...
You were identified with a few artists a couple of years ago Kenny
Scharf, Keith Haring.
Were still friends.
But I never see you with any of this seasons flavors.
I dont know. They got so much press. It was great. Im taking
photographs now. I have a photography show at Robert Miller Gallery.
And theres going to be a retrospective of your films at the Whitney
Are you excited about that?
Theyre better talked about than seen.
Your work as an artist has always been so varied, like Leonardo. Youre
a painter, a film maker, a publisher ... Do you think thats what an
Can you define an artist for me?
I think an artist is anybody who does something well, like if you cook
What do you think about all the younger artists now in New York who are
using pop imagery?
Is it the same as when it happened in the sixties?
No, they have different reasons to do things. All these kids are so intellectual.
Did you like the punk era?
Well, its still around. I always think its gone but it isnt.
They still have their hard-rock nights at the Ritz. Do you ever go there?
No. But punk, like Pop, might never go away.
I guess so.
Hows Interview going?
Its not bad.
Youre going to be audited soon for the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
Yeah, theyre doing it now.
What difference will it make?
I dont know.
It will be better for advertising ...
Whats the circulation now?
170,000. The magazines getting bigger and bigger.
What magazines do you read?
I just read everything.
You look at everything. Do you read the art magazines?
Yeah. I look at the pictures.
Youve been in trouble for using someone elses image as far
back as 1964. What do you think about the legal situation of appropriated
imagery, and the copyright situation?
I dont know. Its just like a Coca-Cola bottle when you
buy it, you always think that its yours and you can do whatever you
like with it. Now its sort of different because you pay a deposit
on the bottle. Were having the same problem now with the John Wayne
pictures. I dont want to get involved, its too much trouble.
I think that you buy a magazine, you pay for it, its yours. I dont
get mad when people take my things.
You dont do anything about it?
No. It got a little crazy when people were turning out paintings and signing
What did you think about that?
Signing my name to it was wrong but other than that I dont care.
The whole appropriation epidemic comes down to who is responsible for art.
If indeed anyone can manufacture the pictures of those flowers, the whole
idea of the artist gets lost somewhere in the process.
Is that good or bad?
Well, first of all, do you agree with me?
Yes, if they take my name away. But when I used the flowers, the original
photograph was huge and I just used one square inch of the photo and magnified
What do you ever see that makes you stop in your tracks?
A good display in a window ... I dont know, a good-looking face.
Whats the feeling when you see a good window display or a good face?
You just take longer to look at it. I went to China, I didnt want
to go, and I went to see the Great Wall. You know, you read about it for
years. And actually it was great. It was really, really, really great.
Have you been working out lately?
I just did it.
How much are you lifting now?
On the benchpress? Thats strong.
No, its light. Youre stronger than me, and fitter and handsomer
and younger, and you wear better clothes.
Did you enjoy the opening party thrown by GFT at the Tunnel?
I had already been there before.
In the sixties you mean?
(Laughs) No the manager or someone took me around it a few days
Its a very convenient club for the Bridge and Tunnel people
theyll be able to come in on those tracks from New Jersey.
I dont know whether it was my idea to call it the Tunnel or whether
it was someone elses idea that I liked, but I think its a good
And lots of people turned out for Claes Oldenburgs show that night.
He looked happy. A lot of people said he looked happy. I always liked Claes
actually. You looked great the other night. I took lots of photos of you
in your new jacket.
Yes? How did I turn out?
They havent come back yet. Next time you come by Ill take some
For the Upfront section of Interview perhaps? Except that Im
not accomplished enough.
You could sleep with the publisher.
If you were starting out now, would you do anything differently?
I dont know. I just worked hard. Its all fantasy.
Life is fantasy?
Yeah, it is.
Some people would.
Do you really believe it, or tomorrow will you say the opposite?
I dont know. I like this idea that you can say the opposite.
But you wouldnt in this case?
Is there any connection between fantasy and religious feeling?
Maybe. I dont know. Church is a fun place to go.
Do you go to Italy very often?
You know we used to make our films there.
And didnt you have a studio in the country for a while?
Outside of Rome.
And did you go to the Vatican?
We passed by it every day.
I remember a polaroid you took of the Pope.
Did you take that from very close up?
Yes. He walked past us.
And he blessed you?
I have a photo of him shaking Fred Hughess hand. Someone wanted us
to make a portrait of the Pope and theyve been trying to get us together
but we cant and by now the Pope has changed three times.
Fred said he used to feel like the Pope in the old Factory in Union Square.
He used to go out on that balcony and wave at the passing masses underneath.
He has a balcony now.
Yes, but from the current Factory he can only see the reception area.
He can wave.
And sometimes its just as busy as Union Square too.