Interview Part 1
The final interview
The last known interview to take place with Andy Warhol appeared in Flash Art magazine in April 1987. The interviewer was art writer Paul Taylor.
Paul Taylor: You are going to be showing your Last Supper paintings in Milan this year.Andy Warhol: Yes.
When did you make the paintings?I was working on them all year. They were supposed to be shown in December, then January. Now I don’t know when.
Are they painted?I don’t know. Some were painted, but they’re not going to show the painted ones. We’ll use the silk-screened ones.
On some of them you have camouflage over the top of the images. Why is that?I had some leftover camouflage.
From the self portraits?
Did you do any preparatory drawings for them?Yeah, I tried. I did about forty paintings.
They were all preparatory?Yeah.
It’s very odd to see images like this one doubled.They’re just the small ones.
The really big one is where there are images upside down and the right way up.That’s right.
It’s odd because you normally see just one Jesus at a time.Now there are two.
Like the two Popes?The European Pope and the American Pope.
Did you see Dokoupil’s show at Sonnabend Gallery?Oh no, I haven’t gone there yet. I want to go on Saturday.
It might be the last day. There you will see two Jesuses on crucifixes, one beside the other.Oh.
And he explained to me something like how it was transgressive to have two Jesuses in the same picture.He took the words out of my mouth.
You’re trying to be transgressive?Yes.
In America, you could be almost as famous as Charles Manson. Is there any similarity between you at the Factory and Jesus at the Last Supper?That’s negative, to me it’s negative. I don’t want to talk about negative things.
Well, what about these happier days at the present Factory? Now you're a corporation president.It’s the same.
Why did you do the Last Supper?Because [Alexander] Iolas asked me to do The Last Supper. He got a gallery in front of the other Last Supper, and he asked three or four people to do Last Suppers.
Does the Last Supper theme mean anything in particular to you?No. It’s a good picture.
What do you think about those books and articles, like Stephen Koch’s Stargazer, and a 1964 Newsweek piece called Saint Andrew, that bring up the subject of Catholicism?I don’t know. Stephen Koch’s book was interesting because he was able to write a whole book about it. He has a new book out which I’m trying to to buy to turn into a screenplay. I think it’s called The Bride’s Bachelors or some Duchampy title. Have you read it yet?
No, I read the review in The New York Times Book Review.What did it say?
It was okay.Yeah? What’s it about?
Stephen Koch described it to me himself. He said it was about a heterosexual Rauschenberg figure in the sixties, a magnetic artist who has qualities of a lot of sixties artists. He has an entourage. I don’t know the rest.I’ve been meaning to call him and see if he can tell me the story and send me the book.
Who’s making a screenplay?We thought that we might be able to do it.
It’s a great idea. Would you be able to get real people to play themselves in it?I don’t know. It might be good.
Do you have screenwriters here?We just bought Tama Janowitz’s book called Slaves of New York.
Does that mean you’re going back into movie production?We’re trying. But actually what we’re working on is our video show which MTV is buying.
Nothing Special?No, it’s called Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes. It was on Thursday last week and it’s showing again Monday and it’ll be shown two more times: December, and we’re doing one for January.
Do you make them?No, Vincent works on them. Vincent Fremont.
Do you look through the camera on these things at all?No.
What’s your role?Just interviewing people.
If there was a movie made out of Stephen Koch’s novel, what would be your role in it?I don’t know. I’d have to read it first.
It’s not usual for business people to talk about these deals before they make them.I don’t care if anyone... there’s always another book.
I saw Ileana [Sonnabend] today and asked her what I should ask you, and she said, “I don't know. For Andy everything is equal.”She’s right.
How do you describe that point of view?I don’t know. If she said it she’s right. [laughs]
It sounds zennish.Zennish? What’s that?
Like Zen.Zennish. That’s a good word. That’s a good title for... my new book.
What about your transformation from being a commercial artist to a real artist.I’m still a commercial artist. I was always a commercial artist.
Then what’s a commercial artist?I don’t know — someone who sells art.
So almost all artists are commerical artists, just to varying degrees.I think so.
Is a better commercial artist one who sells more work?I don’t know. When I started out, art was doing down the drain. The people who used to magazine illustrations and the covers were being replaced by photographers. And when they started using photographers, I started to show my work with galleries. Everybody also was doing window decoration. That led into more galleries. I had some paintings in a window, then in a gallery.
Is there a parallel situation now?No, it just caught on so well that there’s a new gallery open every day now.There are a lot more artists, which is real great.
What has happened to the idea of good art?It’s all good art.
Is that to say that it’s all equal?Yeah well, I don’t know, I can’t...
You’re not interested in making distinctions.Well no, I just can’t tell the difference. I don’t see why one Jasper Johns sells for three million and one sells for, you know, like four hundred thousand. They were both good paintings.
Go to Part 2