Based on the dictated memoirs, posthumously published and edited by his frequent collaborator and long-time friend Pat Hackett, The Andy Warhol Diaries is an enthralling and informative six episode miniseries. Contemporary art is the focus as Warhol pushed, constantly, the boundaries as he explored its commodification and the ultimate aspect of ‘the hand of the artist’ present in his work.
The diaries begin on 24 November, 1976 and end just five days before his premature death on 17 February, 1987. But Warhol was a renowned and controversial figure long before then. Writer and director Andrew Rossi wisely spends the first one and a half episodes immersed in the 1960s – the period of The Factory, the Campbells soup cans, silk screen portaiture and experimental filmmaking. Although there are no diaries of this period to provide insight and guidance, such an introduction to Pittsburgh-born, graphic-design trained Andrew Warhola is crucial to the later years.
Rossi makes extensive use of interviews with Warhol surviving peers, colleagues and friends along with key individuals within the current Amercian art scene evaluating the man himself and his impact. Archival footage and photographs add to the extensive presentation and exploration of Warhol as an artist, socialite, model, friend and lover – a visual New York diary of the time.
It’s a fascinating insight into the man attacked for capitulating to consumerism and his open acceptance of market culture – but always remained relevant by reinventing himself and the world around him. He may never have been fully accepted in the art world from the mid-70s onwards, yet he collaborated with young emerging artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente and Keith Haring. Need to extend the discussion? Start up a magazine (Interview). Reflect the new emergence of digital art? Launch cable TV programs. Remain in the limelight? Appear in The Love Boat and Saturday Night Live.
The series certainly provides a great deal of the ‘private’ in terms of long standing relationships with Jed Johnson and Paramount Pictures executive, Jon Gould. But with extensive interviews with those who knew him or have been impacted by him, The Andy Warhol Diaries is a fascinating insight into the public and private life of an artist who ultimately commodified himself into a work of art.