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HOME > Biographical > 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s > EASTSIDER ANDY WARHOL
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Pop artist and publisher of Interview magazine


He is the great enigma of American art. Some of his most famous paintings are exercises in monotony. His movies often put the viewer to sleep. As a conversationalist, he can be low-keyed to the point of dullness: speaking softly in a slow-paced, emotionless voice, he relies heavily on short sentences, long pauses, and an abundance of "ums" and "uhs." However, he has one asset that overshadows everything negative that might be said or written about him: his name happens to be Andy Warhol.

The only time I met Warhol in person was at a book publication party several months ago. He came by himself, spoke to hardly anyone, and spent most of his brief visit flitting quietly about the room, avoiding people's eyes and taking snapshots of the more celebrated guests. With his pale complexion, narrow frame, and hair like bleached straw, he looked not unlike a scarecrow. Everywhere he went, heads turned to catch a glimpse. That has been the story of Warhol's life ever since he rose to international prominence in the 1960s.

Although he did not feel like talking when I met him, Andy — never publicity-shy — agreed to a telephone interview at a later date. Reached at the offices of his Interview magazine off union Square, he answered all my questions briefly, and in a voice so low that he could barely be heard.

Interview, the monthly tabloid-shaped magazine that he publishes, is Warhol's most visible creative project at the moment. "It's been going for about seven or eight years," he said. "I started it for Brigid Berlin. Her father ran the Hearst Corporation. She didn't want to work on it." The person on the cover of each issue is identified only on the inside, and many of the faces are difficult to recognize. Some are genuine celebrities, such as Truman Capote, who has a regular column. Others are young unknowns who have caught Warhol's fancy. The ultramodern layout includes many full-page ads for some of the most expensive shops in Manhattan. The interviews, interspersed with many photos, lean heavily on show business personalities, models, artists, writers and fashion people. In most cases, the "interviews" are actually group discussions — often with Andy himself taking part — that are printed verbatim. Even the most mundane comments are not cut.

The reason? "I used to carry a tape recorder with me all the time, so this was a way to use it," said Warhol. But in truth, the literal transcriptions are another example of the naturalism that characterizes much of his work. When he turned his attention from paint............
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