Andy Warhol's New York, 25 Years On

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

But then again, what else did you expect? Warhol wanted it this way. "My ideal city would be completely new. No antiques," Warhol proclaimed in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again). "Old buildings are unnatural spaces. Buildings should be built to last for a short time. And if they're older than 10 years, I say get rid of them. I'd build new buildings every 14 years."

Here is an incomplete list of the places you can still find overt references to Andy Warhol in the New York City streetscape: At 57 East 66th Street between Madison and Park avenues, a five-story Federal-style brownstone that was Warhol's home from 1974 to 1987, there is a commemorative plaque by the front door. Outside the Gaslight Café on MacDougal Street, Andy Warhol's face appears in ghostly newsprint; someone has added a monster face. And until May, find the cartoony chrome Rob Pruitt statue of Warhol in Union Square, which has elected a temporary peer of Gandhi.

And there is 57 Great Jones Street, near the corner Bowery, formerly the Andy Warhol Building, where Jean-Michel Basquiat fatally overdosed, upstairs, in August 1988. With death shrines comes the temptation to assign profound meaning to coincidence. But there are incontrovertible facts. One of those is that Basquiat, a dope-shooting vampire, and Madonna, a studied health fiend, had a legendary fling in the fall of 1982, and here, today, directly across the street from Basquiat's loft, there is a poster advertising Madonna's upcoming takeover of Yankee Stadium, almost exactly 30 years later. Another is that there's an impassioned hand-scrawl to the right of the 57 Great Jones entrance where Basquiat died that reads, rather sweetly, "SAMO LIVES ON." And a third, drawn near a fluorescent row of spray-painted stencils that say "LAST CELEBRITY," someone has conveniently added, "WARHOL 4EVA."

Andy Warhol reads the May 6, 1965, edition of The Village Voice at his Silver Factory.
© Bob Adelman
Andy Warhol reads the May 6, 1965, edition of The Village Voice at his Silver Factory.
The Andy Monument, Rob Pruitt’s chrome Union Square tribute. It’s kind of hideous, right?
Sasha Patkin
The Andy Monument, Rob Pruitt’s chrome Union Square tribute. It’s kind of hideous, right?

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.

That is what Warhol's New York City looks like 25 years later. 

cdodero@villagevoice.com

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