On Modern American Art: Selected Essays

By Robert Rosenblum | Go to book overview

But despite this encyclopedic expansion into past celebrity, Warhol's grasp on the present never loosened, adding, for instance, to his Who's Who in Art such new stars as Francesco Clemente, captured with European, fashion-plate elegance, and Julian Schnabel, documented as a scrapbook image of grass-roots American machismo. Yet even dealing with the present tense, Warhol's new portrait gallery of the 1980s turns out in retrospect to have a peculiarly melancholic cast that joins in memory the sudden disappearance of the artist himself. Whether maturely or prematurely, a startling number of Warhol's sitters of the eighties, especially from the art world, died only years after he pinpointed their young or old faces. Both Georgia O'Keeffe and Joseph Beuys died in 1986, six years after Warhol had had his say about their shamanlike features; and in the world of drugs and AIDS, grimly topical in the 1980s, Warhol's eerily prescient obituaries include his youthful painter-buddies Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, as well as Rudolf Nureyev. These pictorial tombstones remind us not only of fame, one of Warhol's constant motifs, but of death, a no less persistent presence in his life and work.

" Andy Warhol, Court Painter to the 70s. Published in David Whitney, ed., Andy Warhol: Portraits of the 70s ( New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1979), pp. 9-20". Reprinted, with the addition of the postscript "Andy Warhol: Portraits of the 80s: A Postscript", in Henry Geldzahler and Robert Rosenblum with Vincent Fremont and Leon Paroissien, Andy Warhol: Portraits of the Seventies and Eighties ( London: Anthony d'Offay Gallery, in association with Thames and Hudson, 1993), pp. 139-53".

1.
Richard Morphet, "The Modernity of Late Sickert", Studio International (July-August 1975), pp. 35-38.
2.
Warhol's relation to this tradition of upper-class portraiture has already been pointed out in David Bourdon excellent and informative article, "Andy and the Society Icon", Art in America 63, no. 1 (January-February 1975), pp. 42-45.

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