Thanks to the Magic of A.I., Andy Warhol Will Narrate a New Netflix Documentary Series on His Life From Beyond the Grave

The documentary series aims to pull back the curtain on the artist's inner life and relationships.

The Andy Warhol Diaries. Cr. Andy Warhol; Courtesy of Netflix © 2022/Self-Portait with Skull by Andy Warhol 1977 Corbis

The world’s endless fascination with the life of Andy Warhol continues next month when Netflix begins airing The Andy Warhol Diaries, a six-part deep dive into the Pop artist’s rich and multilayered life.

The show follows the artist’s childhood in Pittsburgh and careens through his “almost unbelievably diverse journey,” according to a statement from executive producer Ryan Murphy and director Andrew Rossi, through visual art, filmmaking, publishing, scene-setting, and trend-making.

Yet even as Warhol was (and is) larger than life in the art world and beyond, the artist was intensely private regarding his personal life.

One aspect of the new series sure to draw attention and debate is its promise to reveal Warhol “through his own words—often in his own voice through the use of cutting-edge AI techniques.” The practice was similarly used in a recent documentary about the late chef and television star Anthony Bourdain, Roadrunner, as well as in the Disney series about The Beatles, Get Back.

“Using A.I. to recreate Warhol’s voice holds real promise, because I’ve almost never heard an actor who got it right,” author Blake Gopnik, who authored a major 2020 biography of the artist, told Artnet News.

Yet he wasn’t entirely convinced the filmmakers would do it properly.

“When you actually listen to tapes of Warhol speaking, you realize that, yes, he’s weird, but there is a sparkling intelligence lurking there as well. It’s hard to know if the A.I. can capture that. The few seconds of the A.I. voice that we hear in the Netflix trailer leave me unconvinced, so far. They sounded pretty mechanical.”

He added that the tapes the Andy Warhol Diaries are based on still exist. “In theory, we could know exactly how Warhol’s words sounded, in his real voice,” he said, adding that legal issues may have prevented the filmmakers from obtaining access.

The show, judging from the trailer, includes interviews with art-world heavyweights such as mega-dealer Larry Gagosian, former Whitney Museum curator Donna De Salvo (who organized a major 2018 Warhol show at the museum), dealer Jeffrey Deitch, and celebrities including Rob Lowe and John Waters.

See a trailer for the series below.


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