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Andy Warhol: A Penguin Life 
 
  
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Product Details 
  
 
Hardcover 
224 pages 
Viking Press 
Published 2001 
  
Amazon.com 
  
Do a faithful rendering of a soup can, a silk-screened photograph of a starlet, or a film of an empty chair constitute works of art? They do, poet and critic Wayne Koestenbaum ably demonstrates, if their author was Andy Warhol. 
  
 
  
Warhol, who once observed that in time everyone would be famous for 15 minutes, himself earned early fame "as artist and whirlwind, as impresario and irritant." That fame endured over a career that stretched over four decades, as does his influence, even in some unexpected quarters: "Martha Stewart owes a lot to Andy Warhol," Koestenbaum volunteers. But Warhol, Koestenbaum argues, was much more than an artist. He helped shape the popular culture of his day; he launched the careers of dozens of musicians and artists; he revolutionized interior design, making his studio, the Factory, "an ambient artwork"; and he used art as a way of exploring matters of life, death, sexuality, and group behavior. He was, in short, a self-made phenomenon, an odd American success story. 
  
 
  
The price for that success was high, Koestenbaum writes: the controversies Warhol inspired did not always serve him well, his associates had a habit of dying young, and he himself survived an assassination attempt that gave his later work an air of being "bulletins from the afterlife." This slender biography tells all those stories very well, and students of art and contemporary culture will learn much from it. --Gregory McNamee  
  
 
  
From Publishers Weekly 
  
With at least two full-scale biographies in addition to his own voluminous writings in print, it might seem that there is little new to say about the life and career of mass market voyeur Warhol. Koestenbaum, a poet and author of fabulously rococo books on opera (The Queen's Throat) and Jackie Onassis (Jackie Under My Skin), seems acutely aware of this, and gives us a Warhol who is anything but the removed observer of most popular accounts, finding Warhol's own eros and mourning spilling... read more  
  
 
  
Book Description 
  
The sixties were the "sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll" era, and Andy Warhol was its cultural icon. Painter, filmmaker, photographer, philosopher, Warhol was both celebrity and celebrant, the man who put the "pop" in art. His studio, The Factory, where his free-spirited cast of "superstars" mingled with the rich and famous, was ground zero for the explosions that rocked American cultural life. And yet for all his fame, Warhol was an enigma: a participant in the excesses of his time who remained a faithful churchgoer, a nearly inarticulate man who was also a great aphorist ("In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes"), an artist whose body of work sizzles with sexuality but whose own body was a source of shame and self-hatred. 
  
 
  
In his bravura account of Warhol's life and work, scholar and culture critic Wayne Koestenbaum gets past the contradictions and reveals the man beneath the blond wig and dark glasses. Nimbly weaving brilliant and witty analysis into an absorbing narrative, Koestenbaum makes a convincing case for Warhol as a serious artist, one whose importance goes beyond the sixties. Focusing on Warhol's provocative, powerful films (many of which have been out of circulation since their initial release), Koestenbaum shows that Warhol's oeuvre, in its variety of form (films, silkscreens, books, "happenings"), maintains a striking consistency of theme: Warhol discovered in classic American images (Brillo boxes, Campbell soup cans, Marilyn's face) a secret history, the erotic of time and space.
 
  
 
  

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