A few months before Christmas I read ‘I Bought Andy Warhol‘ in a variety of hospital waiting rooms. The book revolves around author Richard Polsky’s quest to own an Andy Warhol original, and by extension his experiences as an art dealer in the 1980’s. It’s a fast read that covers lots of interesting tangents, but as the Amazon reviews will attest, it has its problems. For those with an interest, however, Polsky offers enough insight into the inner workings of the modern art trade to make it worth wading through the character assassination and autobiographical attempts at redemption that sometimes slow things down. [Incidentally, does anyone know if Amazon puts negative reviews at the bottom on purpose? Or if not, do they only spotlight the 5 star reviews?].
Most interesting (To me, at least) were the sections detailing the many eccentricities of dealing with the Warhol Estate. The estate was apparently very tight-lipped regarding what remained unsold after the artist’s death – making it difficult to gauge the supply and value of original Warhol work. Polsky details the painstaking process of scheduling a viewing with the estate, and the politics of favor that determined what you were offered.
Also of interest were the sections dealing with forgery – to which Warhol’s work lends itself well. One chapter deals with an artist who set out to duplicate Warhol’s technique exactly, producing a (supposedly) perfect forgery before deciding not to proceed any further with the experiment; while another describes the author’s encounter with several unsigned ‘originals’ which may or may not have been forgeries – as Warhol’s signiture policy was a bit of an eccentricity in and of itself.
I would have forgotten all about having read this book had I not stumbled upon a plush version of the Andy Warhol’s Velvet Underground cover available at Kid Robot, complete with unzippable skin:
It’s a pretty great (and pretty pricey) recycling of the pop-art image as a new pop-art item (Available in 12″, 24″ and 36″ models).