Andy Warhol's New York, 25 Years On

Looking for signs of the artist a quarter-century after he disappeared

We traipse over to the far more crucial 1342 Lexington Avenue townhouse near 89th Street, which Warhol bought around 1960 after his commercial-art career had become sufficiently lucrative and lived in until 1974. Julia lived in the basement, near the kitchen; upstairs is where Warhol would create many of his early masterpieces: the Campbell's Soup Cans, the first run of Marilyn Monroes, his Liz Taylor tribute. Today, 1342 Lexington is one of seven buildings that form the Hardenbergh/Rhinelander Historic District: Architect Henry J. Hardenbergh, who is also responsible for the Plaza Hotel and the Dakota, designed the brick-faced brownstone. The most recent owners weren't keen on having fans stop by: Eventually, they put the property on the market at an asking price The New York Times reported as $5.99 million. This past December, it went for $3.55 million. There are no curtains nor window fixtures—it doesn't look like anybody has moved in. (In contrast, Warhol's Firehouse Studio on East 87th, which he rented for $150 from the city and where he painted the Death and Disaster series, recently sold for $33 million.)

As a volunteer tour guide, Kiedrowski is more focused on the New York City of Andy Warhol that still exists, rather than what has vanished. For example, he doesn't drag his followers to 216 East 75th Street to see the razed site of the second-floor rental Warhol briefly occupied alone, until his mother, Julia, unexpectedly arrived from Pittsburgh one day, effectively plopped down with all her possessions, and decided to stay with her youngest son—for what would ultimately be almost 20 years. We don't trek down to 26 East 55th Street, where Hugo Gallery stood until 1955, the site of Warhol's crush-funneling first solo exhibition, Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote, a collection that opened on June 16, 1952, and didn't sell one piece. Or 125 West 41st Street, where the Film-Makers' Cinematheque once was, the Jonas Mekas screening-room precursor to the Anthology Film Archives that showed Warhol's experimental projects like, say, the Paul America–starring My Hustler, advertised in 1966 as "Surf, sand, and sex on Fire Island."

"I just don't want people to have the impression that he's not really around," Kiedrowski says in a tone much like he is speaking of God. "He's everywhere."

One of the last photos of Warhol alive, taken on the night of the February 1987 Tunnel fashion show with Miles Davis.
Courtesy The Andy Warhol Foundation/Patricia Bosworth
One of the last photos of Warhol alive, taken on the night of the February 1987 Tunnel fashion show with Miles Davis.
Warhol’s Robert Moses mosaic at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
wallyg’s photostream/Wally Gobetz
Warhol’s Robert Moses mosaic at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Details

Warhol: Confections & Confessions — 8 x 10 B+W Photographs from The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, an exhibition Warhol's fine-art photography, opens Saturday, March 3, at Affirmation Arts in Manhattan. Thomas Kiedrowski will discuss Andy Warhol's New York with Warhol's former assistant Vito Giallo at the 92YTribeca on Friday, March 9.

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An incomplete list of other Warholian settings: The West Village's original Kettle of Fish—a MacDougal joint where Warhol, Bob Dylan, and Edie Sedgwick collided for a night—is now the Saigon Shack, a glass-fronted restaurant that promises both an espresso bar and a Vietnamese kitchen. An epochal den of iniquity, Max's Kansas City is now a Bread & Butter, an all-purpose deli/buffet with the unintentionally nostalgic motto "Habits To Be Made." Café Bizarre, the 106 West Third Street West Village joint where Warhol famously first saw the Velvet Underground, is an NYU law school building, D'Agostino Hall. The St. Marks 19-23 complex that held the Dom and Open Stage—the setting for the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, Warhol's multimedia VU stage show—and later Electric Circus is now chopped up into a Chipotle, a Supercuts, and a Grand Szechuan above a neighborhood market. (The Velvet Underground, by the way, is suing the Andy Warhol Foundation over licensing its banana to iPod and iPad cases.)

Where the first Silver Factory once stood—231 East 47th Street, between Second and Third avenues—there's now nothing more than an ugly parking ramp. In the summer of 1974, Warhol moved his base of operations from the Decker Building, where he was shot by Valerie Solanas, to 860 Broadway, called "860." ("'Factory' had become 'too corny,' he said," writes former secretary Pat Hackett in the introduction to The Andy Warhol Diaries. "And the place became simply 'the office.'") Inhabiting that space now, above a Petco, is brand-licensing agency the Joester Loria Group. Brownies, a health-food restaurant Factory workers frequented and where Warhol often sent assistants to pick up carrot juice or tea for him, is now Danny Meyer's Union Square Café.

The Pyramid Club still exists.

You would think that Warhol's most famous Manhattan haunts would be preserved—at least to some degree—especially because they're fossils of a fastidiously documented life. Specifically, the Factories. But none of them are. Or the White Factory, the Union Square West sixth floor where, shooting him three times and debilitating him so severely, his body required five and a half hours of emergency surgery, Solanas, a frustrated actress, gunned down Warhol in 1968. A building that looms so large in American-contemporary-cultural-history memory would, it seems reasonable to think, still bear scars of this radical episode. At least, you know, a plaque somewhere in the Decker Building: "ANDY WARHOL WAS SHOT HERE."

You would be wrong. That is provincial thinking, the sort of small-minded "Home of the World's Biggest Ball of String" nostalgia people like Andy Warhol were trying to escape by moving to New York City. This isn't Gettysburg or, for that matter, Midnight in Paris.

Here's what happens instead when you go into the Decker Building: The lobby is locked. But if you stand there long enough and pretend to look in the brightly lit windows of the first-floor Puma store, eventually delivery guys or North Face–clad mouth-breathers will hold the door for you. The sixth floor is where it happened more than 40 years ago, and the space has since been divided into two spots. The halls are narrow, there is cat-puke-colored carpeting, and there are big, thick industrial doors. Inside, it's an old building, landmarked. In the back, you might hear voices and laughing, and if you knock, and knock, and knock . . . no one comes.

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16 comments
Kittybyrne3
Kittybyrne3

Thanks...enjoyed that..! Don't you hate idiots like Troy below saying things like...Anybody could have done what he did..I am glad I was born with at least a few brain cells...

Troy Lee Turner
Troy Lee Turner

oh please-Warhol was a no-talent hack who got lucky. Anybody could have done what he did. A man who got his kicks out of being Andy Warhol-a predecessor to today's braindead culture. For this, he deserves no sympathy

Napoleon Nikolai Zivkovic
Napoleon Nikolai Zivkovic

Ethnically, Andy Warhol [family name: Warhola] was Carpatho-Rusyn or Ruthenian, a small Slavic nationality scattered throughout East Central Europe, mostly near Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine, as well as former Austro-Hungarian territories. As for religion, though he may have professed to being a "Catholic" his gravestone in Pittsburgh clearly bears a triple-beamed Orthodox cross, suggesting at the very least Uniate or Byzantine Rite affiliation; see Victor Bockris, 'Beat Punks' (Da Capo Press, 2000) and Raymond M. Herbenick, 'Andy Warhol's Religious and Ethnic Roots: The Carpatho-Rusyn Influence on His Art' (Edwin Meller Press, 1997).

Napoleon Nikolai Zivkovic
Napoleon Nikolai Zivkovic

Ethnically, Warhol [birth name: Warhola] was Carpatho-Rusyn or Ruthenian, a small Slavic nationality scattered throughout East Central Europe, usually situated near Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine but also Vojvodina (Serbia's northern province) and other former Austro-Hungarian territories. Although he may have been a Uniate or Byzantine Catholic by faith, his gravestone in Pittsburgh bears a triple-beamed Orthodox cross (see 'Beat Punks' by Victor Bockris, Da Capo Press, 2000), which marks a clear distinction from what is normally considered simply "Catholic." [A 1997 book entitled 'Andy Warhol's Religious & Ethnic Roots: The Carpatho-Rusyn Influence on His Art' by Raymond M. Herbenick is currently priced at upwards of $100 on Amazon.com]

Jo B
Jo B

You forgot - or deliberately left out? - why Andy suffered from several organ complaints:He died from the long-term consequences of an attemt on his life by the, then, highly acclaimed feminist theorist and propagandist Valerie Solanas who shot three bullets into his bod

Andy survived, but the injuries shortened his lifemore than anything ellse. His failed murderess got away extremely cheaplply with only three year in prison, as shehadshe had some excellent defenders in her trial: Bettie Friedan and other leaders of the "women's movement" defended and praised her as "Fore-Fighter for Women's Rights".

So, we have to accept that killing any man is a "woman's right", especially if we take into account Solanas' own defense in which she justified her deed as part of her political program which we can still find on 'google' these days: "The S.C.U.M. Manifesto" - SCUM standing for the 'Society for the Cutiing Up of Men'. In short: If Hitler wanted to kill about 30 million maximum, Solanas wouldn't do it under 3 billion men.

And the Feminist Leaders approved, yeah praised that.From then on Feminism had deteriorated into FemiNAZIsm.

Chewstroke
Chewstroke

the chewstroke homepage loves andy...the world is a better place because of him.

Dachowes
Dachowes

When Warhol came on the scene I suspected that he was either crazy, crazy as a fox, a trendyscamer or perhaps a genius. (Or, some combination of the former.) later read on an in flight magazinean excerpt of WARHOL FROM A TO Z and found his narative to be exceptionally interesting. So, I bought and read the book.

After reading the book (among other things), I concluded that art does not exist in a monolithic way -- rather art is the result of the interaction the "piece" and the consumer. And, he was all the adjectives I mentioned in the first paragraph.

Not being wealthy, I keep a few actual cans of CAMPBELL'S TOMATO SOUP CAN on my bookshelf in the living room and as yet, all who has seen them have not asked me and wondered why I keep them there.

TRETNYC
TRETNYC

If I hadn't already read Thomas K.'s book already last year then I probably would have thought this article would have been interesting. BUT I am grateful anytime my favorite artist is featured in THE VILLAGE VOICE. Cannot believe its been 25 years, and now that I'm in my early 50's that he passed at age 58. Wish that the statue in Union Square could stay there forever. RIP.

LIMEN !
LIMEN !

Andy Warhol silver screen, Andy Warhol your still a screem! Long live Andy where ever you are? I always enjoyed my visits to the gallery. But Good God that dam hair!

ghostlectricity
ghostlectricity

AW's untimely death was medical malpractice pure and simple.

Jamoke60
Jamoke60

There were likely many 'memorial masses' and prayer services held in honor of John F. Kennedy Jr's untimely death in 1999 in NYC, but the writer implies that 'THE' primary mass was held at St. Thomas More Church. This is incorrect. While there was an 'official' memorial mass, invitation only, for primarily family members at St. Patrick's Cathedral, an open 'People's Memorial' for JFK Jr. was held the evening before at the progenitor of the uptown cathedral: 'Old St. Patrick's Church', now a basilica. The Irish American community of NYC organized this service, which was attended by thousands who otherwise would have not had the chance.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

Sakara
Sakara

rolling stone magazine 4ever has long articles about the beatles; the voice now starting with warhol...? kinda says a lot about how boring contempory art and music is.

Maracwest
Maracwest

Valerie Solanas was messed up. But the vast majority of murders in this country are committed by men. Where the hell does this "feminazi" mythology come from?

David_Chowes
David_Chowes

Ah! I almost forgot about the S. C. U. M. manifesto -- the Society to Cut Up Men. How crazy is our species? Plenty!

 
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