ARTISTS | ANDY WARHOL’S LEGACY = $$$ (+ WHEN KAREN KAIN MET WARHOL)

PART I: ANDY’S LEGACY

Lying on the beach in the Philippines, reading a second-hand copy of The Economist, I came across a fascinating article by Sarah Thornton about the high stakes world of art auctions. Here’s one comment about Ms. Thornton’s writing from The Economist’s website:

When you write so well about Warhol and talk about money like that it’s positively sexy. Mmm.

As a long-time fan of all things Warholian, I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that he is the trendsetter regarding art auction prices. Yet, I had no idea, really …

If you’re into contemporary art, Warhol, or just plain old $$$ (and how it’s made), click on the screenshot below to read the article or, alternatively, just watch the YouTube video about the subject (but the article is great reading!):

26 November 2000 The Economist – The Pop Master’s Highs and Lows PDF

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DIGRESSION: ANDY AND THE PRESIDENCY

File:Andy Warhol 1977.jpg

Andy @ the White House with one of his portraits of Jimmy Carter, 1977

PART II: WHEN KAREN KAIN MET ANDY WARHOL

Photo: Robert Nelson

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Below is Warhol’s portrait of Canada’s former prima ballerina Karen Kain that I purchased in the early ’80s. I love it. It’s been a part of my life for so long now that perhaps I take it for granted.

The Economist article motivated me to check out how much it’s worth in 2010. I was pleased with my return-on-investment, but would never consider selling it; it’s my personal connection to one of my twentieth century heroes.

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WARHOL’S POLAROID OF KAREN ON WHICH HE BASED HIS HYPER-COLOURFUL VISIONS:


Artist Andy Warhol
Title Karen Kain
Medium Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board with diamond dust.
Year 1980
Size 101.6 x 81.28 cm
Edition Edition of 200, 30 AP, 5 PP, 25 TP, signed and numbered in pencil in lower right.
Misc. The edition of 200 is also signed in pencil by Karen Kain. Printer: Rupert Jasen Smith, New York
. Publisher: William Hechter, Toronto.

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Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné 1962 - 1987: A Catalogue Raisonne 1962-1987

Andy Warhol

Because I love “my” Karen so much, I was astonished (shocked!) to read that Karen didn’t care much for Andy’s take on her face and that she kept her copy in her basement!

I reached what many people might consider the peak of celebrity in 1980 when Toronto lawyer William Hechter commissioned Andy Warhol to paint my portrait.

The Factory, Warhol’s studio, was a huge loft with enough desks for a newsroom and an overall feeling of chaos. ‘Andy wants your hair up tight in a bun,’ said one assistant, while another added, ‘He wants white make-up with dark red lipstick.’

Suddenly, I realized there was someone else in the room: Warhol was clicking away with a Polaroid, and as they applied the make-up, he kept muttering to himself unintelligibly. I began to wonder if I had some special attraction for people given to strange incantations. I was asked to strike several poses, and then, abruptly, it was over.

The results, a series of silkscreens unveiled at a huge reception at the Sutton Place Hotel, were greeting with a deathly silence. I hated the portrait myself: my lyrical self-image seemed unrecognizably distorted by Warhol’s garish colours — sea foam green, orange, purple, and puce.

For years, I kept my copy in the basement, as did my parents. Their cat, Jeffrey, habitually marked his territory on it, as if expressing the views of the better-mannered human component of the Kain household. Over the years, however, I’ve come to see Warhol’s portrait as bold and striking, and at my husband’s urging, my copy now hangs in our dining room.

– Karen Kain (with Stephen Godfrey and Penelope Reed Doob), Movement Never Lies: An Autobiography. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1994: 140-41.

CAPTION: “My first dubious encounter with myself by Warhol.”

Well, I’m glad that Karen is now comfortable looking at her Warhol as she dines with her hubby at home.

I’ve been in love with my Karen from the moment I first unwrapped her. I had never seen diamond dust before, and the colour just wowed me. I also loved how Andy got her to pose her hands — very graceful and appropriately swan-like (compare them with Jimmy Carter’s hand, above).

OOH … DIAMOND DUST!

It’s amazing what Andy did with his camera. Here’s more about his modus operandi:

PART III: ANDY + HIS BIG SHOT

Fans of Warhol know that he was particularly fond of his Polaroid cameras, especially the Big Shot. It’s the hidden piece of equipment behind some of his portraits of the rich and famous and shoes, and bananas, and … other big shots.

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A wealth of information about Warhol’s process and his interactions with his sitters is revealed in his Polaroid photographs. Strikingly evident is the intense, though perhaps brief, emotional engagement he had with these individuals.

While some figures display relative ease in front of the camera, others present a stiff and studied countenance that appears unaffected by Warhol’s instructions to turn this way or that, to look over a shoulder, or to pose with the hands.

Warhol positioned his sitters in a variety of similar, classical poses, over and over again, striving to obtain the perfect composition that matched their personalities, revealed their best features, and preserved them at their finest.

– DePauw University, “Emison Museum Features ‘Andy Warhol: Faces and Names‘”

Andy with his favourite Polaroid camera, the Big Shot, a non-folding camera produced between 1971 and 1973

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PART IV: ABOUT POLADROIDS

Well, Polaroid is another Space Age technology that has bitten the dust.

Yet, there is still hope for those who like the “look and feel” of Polaroid photographs.

I forget how I came across the Poladroid, but it’s a cool tool for creative folks. It’s not a Big Shot, but I think of Andy when I use mine.

Here are my mock-Warholian ‘droids of Karen:

CLICK THE SCREENSHOT BELOW TO LEARN MORE:

PART V: BACK TO THE $$$

Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol hobnobing with other fabulous folk.

Halston, Bianca, Liza and Andy at Studio 54 back in the day (it looks like Halston is having an epiphany on the dance floor in the photo above).

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Lucky Halston: he got his own Warhol currency. I wonder what the buyer of his scribble paid for it when it passed hands.

Original ‘Dollar Sign’ drawing by Andy Warhol, in felt pen, executed on original Studio 54 headed paper. Signed and dated by Andy Warhol and dedicated to Halston. Felt pen on paper, 28.4 x 22.1 cm, 1979.

FASHION + ART | “SOUPER DRESS” IN THE STYLE OF ANDY WARHOL (+ LILY TOMLIN)

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