30 Aug, 2010

Letters: Cottage industry at Warhol’s Factory

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

Your article (Warhol’s box of tricks, Weekend, 21 August) is mistaken when it says: “Delegating to a team of technicians who worked in a Manhattan studio he called the Factory, the artist created a conveyor belt that consciously blurred the line between individual authorship and mechanical reproduction.” During most of the 60s (when the original Silver Factory was in operation), Andy Warhol employed only one paid art assistant – Gerard Malanga. Although occasionally Warhol enlisted the help of other people to do things like stretch canvases on a voluntary basis, it was Gerard who helped Warhol with the actual silk-screening and it was Warhol, himself, who did the under-painting and over-painting on the canvases.

Throughout his career Warhol had fewer assistants working for him than most artists do today. In assessing Warhol’s methods of working, one must be careful to differentiate between his public pronouncements and the reality of how he actually worked. Although he may have liked to give journalists the impression that he was a “machine” who casually churned out works of art, in reality he was a control freak and workaholic who certainly knew the difference between prints (editions produced solely by “mechanical reproduction”) and paintings, which involved a more personal approach. If his paintings were created merely by mechanical reproduction, there would be no difference between the prints and the paintings.

Differentiating his prints from his paintings was presumably one of the reasons he started Factory Additions in 1966 – the company that was responsible for his mechanically reproduced prints, as opposed to his individually created paintings.

Gary Comenas


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