Andy Warhol the Musical

This work was inspired by the summer (1984) I spent in New York City  learning to screen print. Most mornings I woke to the sound of cock roaches scrambling around the floor of my 4th floor walk up apartment in the east village. I was always hungry. I lived on coffee and leftovers from food trucks and, I am ashamed to admit,  whatever else I managed to salvaged from upmarket dumpsters. The Waldorf Hotel being a particular favourite. I walked everywhere, regularly going as far a field as Little Odessa and Coney Island, where I spent most of my Sunday afternoons. It was a solitary existance but I had a mission that summer, it consumed me, to learn screenprint at Warhol's Factory and that's just what I did. It was there on Union Square through countless and thankless hours of repetition that I quickly learnt and honed my skills working on some of Warhols most iconic images including a run of the Monroe prints. People think we just hung out at the factory, the truth was it was hard work, physical work. Andy had just started producing his dollar prints which were in big demand. At that time they sold for $25,000 a pop. I know this because on the one occasion I meet Warhol face to face it was to have a print signed after hours at his home on Lexington Avenue before delivering it to a buyer on Park Avenue. I remember he had this really thick accent and his wig (nylon) looked like it might be on back to front. He seemed pre occupied. After I delivered the print I walked home to the village that evening with the cash in my apron pocket. I was sure I would be mugged. Next day I brought it back to the office on Union Square like Warhol told me to. That's when it hit me Andy was really tight with money. He bought us coffee and doughnuts and told us he had made us all famous and famous people didn’t need money because people, even poor people, want to buy famous people stuff. Later that year Andy would move the factory for the third and final time to a converted office block  on 22 East 33rd Street. I never liked this location. It was more like a corporation than an artist's studio. The truth is that by that time it had started to feel that way too. I didn't know it at the time but the summer of 1984 was the last of the great days of the factory era. It was also memorably and oppressively hot that year. The only time to venture out was after sunset. Most evenings I went to the gym to work out. The same gym I learnt later as the novelist and provocateur Kathy Acker. Turned out we shared the same weight lifting instructor too. The place was very basic just a few dumbells and a couple of benches which, like the rest of the city, had seen better days. Sometimes I would catch up with my friends from the factory at a party in the Village. Sometimes Andy would leave comps for us to Studio 54. To be honest I  thought the place was a dive. I never saw anyone there I recognised except Jodie Foster once when Warhol was doing a piece with her for his magazine 'Interview'. Funny how being in the middle of history in the making can seem ordinary at the time.

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I call  these images ‘cut ups’. They are mostly appropriated and plagiarised images - on the theme of fame, immortality and the passing of time.  The only constant is change nothing is fixed, not even the self which is always in the process of being made, unmade and remade.'

Andy Warhol The MusicalTribute to AndyI worked on these plates in the NLI.
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