Warhol: ‘My life wouldn’t fill a postcard.’ Biographer: ‘Is that ...

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Warhol: ‘My life wouldn’t fill a postcard.’ Biographer: ‘Is that a dare?’

A huge book takes on ‘the saint of misfits’, a man who was himself a work of art

Mick Brown

 At the end of a monumental new trawl through Andy Warhol’s life and times, Warhol: A Life As Art, Blake Gopnik concludes he has “overtaken Picasso as the most important and influential artist of the 20th century. Or at least the two of them share a spot on the top peak of Parnassus beside Michelangelo and Rembrandt and their fellow geniuses.”

Warhol would have loved that. As a college student, Picasso was a favourite of his, and at the height of his pop art fame he made the rivalry explicit by wearing the Breton striped T-shirts Picasso was famous for – part tribute, part self-promotion. Andy Warhol was the artist as brand, avant la lettre: as the title of this book suggests, his greatest creation was himself. So who was he exactly?

Warhol’s parents were immigrants from what is now Slovakia, who settled in the industrial nowhere land of Pittsburgh. His father was a labourer, the family poor...

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