These Artists Know the Blessing and Curse of Warhol and Basquiat

For many ambitious young people around Andy Warhol, the enigmatic pop artist opened an inaccessible door and cast an inevitable shadow.

Photographer of the month Paige PowellA longtime close friend of Warhol, she put up a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting from her collection for sale at Art Basel. Returning to his home state of Oregon in 1994, Powell still remembers arriving in New York in the late 1980s. A few months later, she began selling advertisements for Warhol’s Interview magazine. There she met Basquiat and she was his girlfriend for a little over a year.

Powell captures the legendary New York of the 80s in his photographs. At the time, her connections gave her front row access to top artists and scene makers. her photo is Basquiat-Warhol Exhibition This year it will be held at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris and at a group exhibition that has just opened in Paris. ILY2 Gallery in Portland. However, her reputation is associated with celebrities such as Basquiat, especially Warhol.

The Warhol connection is even more pronounced for Brigid Berlin, an exceptional person who grew up in a privileged Upper East Side home, who died in 2020 at the age of 80. She arrived at Warhol’s factory in 1965 and remained there until Warhol underwent fatal gallbladder surgery in 1987. They were best friends and called each other Mr and Mrs Polk. Ms Berlin’s mother, a socialite, tried to slim down the overweight girl by offering her an amphetamine, known in the neighborhood as Brigid Polk, which she speeded up. It comes from the habit of poking yourself and others with a syringe.

“Brigid Berlin: Heaviest” The exhibition, which runs through August 18 at the Vito Schnabel Gallery in Manhattan’s West Village, is the most extensive display of her work since the 1970 show. Gallery Heiner Friedrich We explore her various pursuits in Cologne, Germany. She is primarily remembered for documenting her life in the factory with her Polaroid camera and tape her recorder, which Warhol avidly used. It is unknown who influenced whom.

“People at the factory say she was the first to make Polaroids and audio, and that Andy learned from her,” he said. Alison Gingelas, an independent curator who curated the Schnabel exhibition. “I have always been drawn to women outside the canon of art history. It just shows that her agency was much bigger than it had been featured in.”

Mr. Gingeras said of Mr. Powell and Mr. Berlin, “They are in this acolyte status, not given the right to their own agency and creative activity.”

Powell and Berlin documented the people who interacted with Warhol in very different ways. Powell’s approach was more conventional. She took primarily black-and-white photographs, first with her 35mm camera and then with a medium format Rolleiflex for a while. A large selection of her work is included in the box set.Beulaland” “Andy was someone who really inspired me,” Powell said. “He was really encouraging. My pictures were natural. They weren’t about documenting. I felt inspired.”

Despite Powell’s immunity, many of her photographs, especially those of Warhol, are invaluable sources: Warhol and Louise Bourgeois, Warhol and Basquiat, Warhol and Keith Haring as Santa Claus. Regardless of whether the subject matter is admired, some works are haunting as human portraits.Art dealer’s soulful shot Leo Castelli In 1986, sitting in his usual elegant clothes, hands on his knees, holding a copy of an interview, revealing an indescribable worldly weariness, the photo is a melancholy particularly suitable for conveying. Art critic Edith Deak poses in front of a 1934 Howard Chandler Christie mural at Cafe des Artistes. Her bangs in a bun, and Christy’s big, water-nymph-like eyes look as romantic as they do art.

Berlin’s work is more outlandish. As the title of the exhibition suggests, her ongoing battle to lose weight is a central concern, and the gluttony that easily leads her to eat two key lime pies topped with whipped cream one after the other. hindered by Another obsession was her mother, Muriel “Honey” Berlin, wife of the powerful and wealthy head of the Hearst Corporation, Richard Berlin. She was bitterly disappointed that Brigid had not grown up to be an Upper East Side socialite. In her bark-scorching voice (a snippet of a telephone conversation recorded by Brigid is included in the audio section of the show), she downplays her adult daughter’s overweight and scruffy lifestyle. , condemned.

“that teeth About the weight,” declares Berlin’s needle-stitched cushion. But it was also about Honey, who grew to resemble Honey in style, temperament, and conservative Republican politics as Brigid grew up. One wall of the exhibition is covered with custom wallpaper that Brigid installed in the East 28th Street apartment where he lived from 1986 to 2020 until his death. It’s like the brightly colored floral patterns that you often see in rooms with a lot of chintz in ordinary women’s clothing. Although a sarong, cabbage roses are replaced with cabbage in this understated and witty design.

Other vestiges of her genteel surroundings, such as a shadowbox frame cleverly placed with the collar of her beloved pug, compete in the exhibition with works that have attacked Honey in a fit of invective. Berlin has been making “tit prints” since the 1970s, using her bare breasts as a paintbrush, in which the highly pigmented halo creates shapes resembling balloons and angelfish. Even more scandalous are the three chapbooks in which she lured artists into painting penises. Her illustrators include Jasper Johns, Leonard Cohen, Dennis Hopper, Robert Smithson, and Bryce Marden.

Artistically, Berlin was ahead of her time as a woman who unabashedly indulges her sensual desires. It’s not like she calls herself a feminist. “You could argue that her work contains feminist content, but her conservative background is against it,” Gingeras said. “There’s a lot of internalized misogyny in her desire to be part of men, to be recognized. . What really matters is what is contained within her work. “

Like Powell, Berlin also documented Warhol’s entourage in many Polaroids. But by arranging the Polaroid photographs in his three groups, Zingeras puts these photographs, which are only part of Berlin’s rich body of work, into context. One is dedicated to Warholiana, the other of him to his self-portraits and shots of notable artists including Willem de Kooning and John Cage. The show ends with a tribute to Berlin from today’s artists. Francesco Clemente, Jenna Gribbon and Jane Kaplowitz.

Berlin and Powell are now thought to be out of touch with Warhol, but they will never be out of touch with Warhol. The people in the Warhol constellation he called “stars” were actually satellites illuminated by his reflected light, with the exception of Lou Reed.

Beyond his entry into New York’s bohemian elite, Warhol provided a philosophical foundation for Powell and Berlin. The two women agreed with his conception, taken from Marcel Duchamp, that whatever an artist says is art is art. When she asked Powell if she considered herself a photographer, she replied: I still work in photography and video. I am also an art curator. It’s just like I have an artistic idea and want to make things happen. “

As Powell and I were talking on the phone, I got a text message from an art dealer. Jeffrey Deitch For the Basquiat painting she commissioned, Basquiat painted himself and Powell as chimpanzees. Backstory: Before coming to New York, Powell taught American Sign Language to chimpanzees, including one named Delilah and Leah, at the Portland Zoo.

“Jean-Michel was very interested in me being with chimpanzees,” she recalls. “He had a picture of Delilah and Leah feeding each other, but it wasn’t taken by me. The painting shows Powell and Basquiat with monkeys grooming each other. Deitch reported to Powell that he sold it to a young collector for $5 million.

Mr. Powell was thrilled. “It’s $1.5 million less than we asked for, but it’s still bearable,” she said. The painting was on long-term loan to the Portland Museum of Art. “I decided to sell because I wanted to buy a house that would give me a lot of room to build my archives,” she explained. “And just to move forward.”

Powell didn’t say it, but she proved herself to be a true Warhol artist, living one of his most-quoted maxims. “Making money is art, working is art, and good business is the best art.”

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