The Many Lives of Andy Warhol is more than a biography: it’s a look into Warhol’s greatest creation: himself.
Warhol was known as the king of pop art, but the famous artist was secretly never satisfied with a single style and his journey took him from graphic designs of shoes, women’s fashions and glamour magazines to owning and publishing his own film and gossip magazine, Interview.
Stuart Lenig takes us behind the scenes to explore Warhol’s many innovations in the art world. Warhol was a titanic technician, making art from new techniques. His designs for Glamour and Vogue used a innovative blotted line technique for drawing and blotting the illustrations to make them appear printed. He turned common shoe designs into whimsical graphics. Warhol liked to shock people with images of death. Warhol caused a stir by making prints of a recently deceased Marilyn Monroe. He startled spectators with a paintings of a headline: “129 die in Jet.”
Works that span Warhol’s entire career are discussed here alongside the continuing influence of diverse styles and forms that inspired them. He bought and collected antiques, classic Americana, camp and kitsch, primitive objects, and Native textiles. He was highly eclectic and saw nothing wrong with mixing and merging different historical styles. He blended Dada, Minimalism, Rococo, and Surrealism with abandon and finess. An introduction and ten chapters take readers through studies of the many lives of the artist as a performer, director, writer, technologist, printmaker, caricaturist, and critic of the art scene. In Warhol’s work we learn that the importance of the ancient and the contemporary form guided his renderings of the human form and his insights into contemporary society. He constantly reinvented and transformed his own language of signs. With lush descriptions and images,The Many Lives of Andy Warhol reveals Warhol's life and art in new ways provides exceptional insights into the artist at work.
Stuart Lenig is coordinator of the humanities program at Columbia State. He serves on the cultural affairs committee, and supervises film and theatre programs. His books include The Bizarre World of Reality TV and The Twisted Tale of Glam Rock.
Introduction: Warhol: An Unknowable Man
Chapter one: Warhol: The Assemblage
Chapter two: Warhol: The Mad Man
Chapter Three: Warhol: The Pop Artist
Chapter four: Warhol: Master of the Minimal
Chapter five: Warhol: Wizard of Nothing
Chapter six: Warhol: The Secret Surrealist
Chapter seven: Warhol: The Collectable Icon
Chapter eight: Warhol: Dark Designer
Chapter nine: Warhol: Artist of the Postmodern
Chapter ten: Warhol: His Legacy Today
As Lenig points out, Andy Warhol's identity was complex, and in this volume he treats Warhol's work broadly, as an "artist, illustrator, author, record producer, director, advertiser, entrepreneur, filmmaker, publisher, sculptor, performance artist, actor, model, and more" (p. 1)... Lenig's analysis is particularly strong when addressing Warhol's interest in folk art, computers, and Native American culture. He discusses amusing artwork, including portraits of pets and a self-portrait of Warhol picking his nose. Though Lenig frames Warhol as a postmodern artist, his writing style is accessible even though he uses theoretical insights from Jean Baudrillard, Brian Eno, Stuart Hall, Charles Jencks, and Guy Debord. This is not a scandalous tell-all biography; it is an intellectual biography. Lenig writes that "those interested in gossip about a dead person who can't respond to rumors and accusations [should] look elsewhere. Here [I am] concerned with achievements that are distinctive and render the uniqueness of the artist" (p. 201). Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers.
Is there anything new to say about Andy Warhol? Well, it turns out there is. The Many Lives of Andy Warhol connects previously unconnected dots and examines whys and wherefores never before examined, to give us an even clearer understanding of the man who can arguably be called America’s most American artist.
When we think of Andy Warhol, we imagine Campbell soup cans and Marilyn Monroe. Stuart Lenig shatters that limited lens and opens up a world of Andy Warhols: film-maker, illustrator, and more. The Many Lives of Andy Warhol will have you constantly saying, ‘I didn't know that!’
4/29/22, Choice: This book was featured in a roundup of top community college titles for the month of April 2022.