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What You Never Knew About Andy Warhol

April 9, 2014  • Institute Contributor

“So much has happened,” remarked former Interview magazine editor and Vanity Fair contributor Bob Colacello when he was asked to update his 1990 biography of friend and former employer Andy Warhol. Hence, the foreword to the reissued “Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up,” discussed recently at the Aspen Institute, delves deeply into Warhol’s uncanny foresight into today’s celebrity culture.

Indeed, Warhol’s infamous “15 minutes of international fame” prediction, said Colacello, seems to have come true, spurred by social media. The type of icons the pop artist celebrated now often set the cultural tone. Imagine, Colacello implied, what Andy could have done with a Kardashian.

But some of the most interesting discoveries during the discussion between Colacello and former Washington Post art critic Paul Richard were found in Warhol’s past as opposed to his impact on the future. Richard noted that not only did Warhol’s Carpathian Catholic roots inform his pop-art pathos, but it was the actual church where he attended mass with his mother multiple times a week as a child. As seen in the video clip below, Colacello and Richard agreed that the Byzantine-style iconoclasts built into the Pittsburgh church’s design mirror Warhol’s aesthetic in his commissioned portraits of celebrities, such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. “More and more, I’m convinced that Andy was a religious artist for a secular society,” said Colacello. “[He painted] all objects of worship.”

Author Bob Colacello and Former Art Critic Paul Richard discuss how the Eastern Catholic Church of Andy Warhol’s youth impacted his paintings of friends from Studio 54. 

Additionally, Colacello pointed out that while Warhol was known to set trends — collecting turquoise, Indian Mughal jewelry, Bouguereau paintings — his interest came less from their intrinsic value and more from his personal need to create monetary worth in the items around him. “He was a hoarder,” said Colacello explaining that Warhol had grown up in such poverty that his family’s bathroom was still in the backyard when the artist left for New York in the 1940s. “He had a constant fear of losing everything.”

For more on Andy Warhol’s past and how it impacted the future, watch the entire interview below.