The name of Andy Warhol and the city of New York are almost synonymous, even though the artist is technically from Pittsburgh. He made New York his home in 1949 and took over the art scene in the city, becoming one of the most prolific forerunners of the Pop Art movement. He’s also known as a writer, socialite, and forward-thinking filmmaker. When you go to New York, Warhol’s haunts and artwork can be found in many of the major landmarks.
One can experience New York in many ways, but one of the most interesting approaches is to see it through Andy Warhol’s art. Below, we’ll see how Warhol and New York City are intertwined, giving us an awe-inspiring picture of both the personality and the city:
Entrance for Serendipity 3 in 2007:
This was one of the first coffee house boutiques in New York City and among the favorite haunts of Andy Warhol. He usually went there to eat before he gained so much fame. This coffee boutique is still known for its indulgent treats and charming interior, even though it opened back in 1954.
Andy Warhol was a frequent sight at Serendipity 3; he was also a struggling artist at the time. The story goes that he would usually pay his bills at that coffee house with some drawings. This information is up on Serendipity’s website, so we’d say he place is worth a visit for any lover of modern art.
In fact, this place became a frequent haunt for several celebrities and famous personalities after Warhol. These included Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy, Beyonce, and Kim Kardashian. However, Warhol was the first to get there; he admired the aesthetic of the clocks, Tiffany lamps, and street signs so much that he requested the café owners to decorate his own apartment as well.
The Decker Building:
One cannot discuss the art of Andy Warhol without referring to ‘The Factory’. This was the location of Warhol’s studio, wherever it might have been at different points in his career. The avante-garde aesthetics and general acclaim of this artist meant that he was firmly in the middle of the New York cultural universe in his time.
Warhol’s studios were named ‘The Factory’ partly because they were much more than mere working spaces. In reality, they were considered to be the most culturally-relevant and proficient locations within New York City at that point. Of course, the locations would change, but The Factory still remained the social and artistic epicenter for Warhol himself as well as all his friends. These included several celebrities, including the group ‘The Velvet Underground’, Bob Dylan, Salvador Dali, and Mick Jagger.
The term ‘Factory’ conjures up images of assembly lines, automation, industry, manual labor, and the like. This was a far cry from the usual artistic combination of starvation, ennui, garrets, loneliness, and eccentricity. Bestowing that particular term on his studios was yet another radical and unconventional way in which Warhol stood out in the cultural circles on New York City.
If you’re planning a trip to New York City at any point, it might be worthwhile to pinpoint all the Factory locations and visit them one by one. There isn’t a lot of them left, though, for one reason or another. Unfortunately, the original Factory was torn down in the second half of the 1960s and is now just a parking lot. It was known for some time as ‘The Silver Factory’ due to Billy Name’s décor of metallic and cool tones inside. Name was an archivist of Warhol’s work and decorated the apartment this was as a tribute to the artist’s Silver Cloud series.
Another Factory was located at the Decker Building at Union Square West. This was where Warhol founded the ‘Interview’ magazine and was also shot by the radical feminist Valerie Solanas. Now, it has a Dylan’s Candy Bar displayed at the street level. One might see this as a fitting tribute to Warhol, who certainly had a sweet tooth.
The Empire State Building
A screenshot from the film ‘Empire’:
The skyline of New York City is an essential part of experiencing the city itself. From this skyline, one of the most important structures is the Empire State Building, which has been featured in several movies to this date. However, Andy Warhol showcased his artistic talent by making use of the Empire State Building in a wholly unique manner. He did this by directing and producing the movie ‘Empire’ in 1964.
This film is no ordinary movie; it was a feat to produce and requires a lot of willpower to view as well. This is because it’s around eight hours long and shows nothing but 8 hours and 5 minutes of the Empire State Building. The film itself is in black and white, while the view is unchanging. The footage is timed from sunset, showing the building coming out of a white screen. It ends in complete darkness at around 3 am.
When this movie was released, shortened versions were impossible to find. however, the impracticality of viewing the film is part of the art form and the intent of the artist. The tediousness of this work forces us as viewers to question the very nature of art and film as well as our observations.
The New York Academy of Art
Street entrance of the New York Academy of Art:
The New York Academy of Art is in Tribeca and is a private art school that Andy Warhol co-founded in the year 1980. The mission of this school is to encourage figurative art study through a classical sort of education.
This might seem surprising given the unconventional style of Andy Warhol, but it pays respect to his belief that intensive training will help a contemporary artist to develop a unique aesthetic of their own.
The Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art, also known as the MoMA, is where you can find several of the most iconic artworks from Andy Warhol. This is where the famous Campbell’s Soup Cans (a 1962 work) are displayed, as well as the Gold Marilyn Monroe from 1961.
However, Warhol’s relationship with the MoMA wasn’t always like this. At the beginning of his career, the artist had moderate success when he worked commercially. He was working by designing windows and ads, along with doing some contributions for Harper’s Bazaar and Glamour magazines. He was facing a lot of rejections at this point as well, though he was trying his best to make his mark in the area of fine art.
Several curators and dealers also ignored Warhol, such as Alfred H. Barr Jr., the then-director at the MoMA. On October 18 in 1956, Barr wrote a letter to Andy Warhol about a drawing ‘Shoe’ that Warhol had contributed this drawing to the museum, citing it as a gift. However, this letter was politely worded and designed to reject the drawing for the collection at the MoMA. Now, though, the MoMA has around 240 pieces attributed to Warhol. These include several shoe drawings, which shows how the status of the artist rose in a few years.
The Guggenheim museum in New York City:
The Guggenheim is another must-see place in New York City, even more so due to the famous works of Andy Warhol that are on display there. This museum has an impressive collection when it comes to Warhol’s work, including his photographs and silkscreen work, not just paintings.
Some of the most well-known examples of Warhol’s work at the Guggenheim are Flowers, a network of paintings completed in 1964, and Self-Portrait in Drag from 1981.
Leo Castelli with Jasper Johns:
While Leo Castelli was not the founder of pop art, he was an instrumental personality in making it a huge business. He founded the Castelli Gallery in 1957, which was located in his apartment on the Upper East Side. This place rapidly gained a name for representing American artists who had a sort of bleeding edge, including Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, etc.
Warhol was also a part of this gallery, but only after a near miss. Ivan Karp, the gallery director, suggested that Castelli pay a visit to Warhol’s studio. When Castelli viewed some of the pieces there, especially the comics-inspired work, he deemed them to be too similar to Lichtenstein and passed. However, he did represent Andy Warhol around four years later.
Andy Warhol supposedly once said ‘Art is anything you can get away with’. Looking at his artwork and the way he viewed New York City, this statement seems to ring true. Warhol did get away with many things under the banner of his art. However, his artwork did change the way we view art in general, no matter what genre it is. This legendary artist saw the whole of New York as his canvas, his inspiration, as well as his medium. He also saw himself as a visitor to the city, even after living there for most of his life. By viewing the city through his work, one can gain a whole new level of experience and come away with their view somewhat transformed.