Stephen Shore: Andy Warhol’s Factory, More Work Space than Party Place

THE DAILY PIC: Shore's enlarged book gives a fresh view of Warhol creating his art – and persona.

THE DAILY PIC (#1659): There are a lot of lovely photos in the new, enlarged edition of Stephen Shore’s “Factory: Andy Warhol,” which Phaidon is releasing on Monday. (Shore’s newly revealed contact sheets are a particular treat.) But I think the book’s most important image is this one, even if it isn’t so striking at first. It shows Warhol hard at work on a suite of paintings, alongside his assistant Gerard Malanga. And as Shore pointed out in a recent chat, that was what mostly went on in the so-called Silver Factory, which, despite its strange name and stranger denizens, was nothing more or less than an old-fashioned artist’s studio. Its reputation as a party place, or even as a den of iniquity, has always been vastly overblown.

From the day he left art school in 1949, Warhol was the hardest-working image-maker anyone around him had seen, and that continued right up to his dying day. The thing is, his images included both the objects he turned out, by the thousands, and the image of himself he projected to the world. Although the objects include some of the most important, influential, complex works to come out of the West, Warhol’s public image, his carefully crafted persona, has always stolen the show.

Sure, parties happened, sometimes, at the Factory. And some of Warhol’s followers were distinctly unusual folk. But I think it’s best to think of all that as a gilded frame that Warhol chose to place around his real work as an artist. He knew the objects he made were so tough and demanding that they needed the comic relief of some gilt. Or rather, Warhol realized that framing devices always play a huge role in what art is and does.

Shore’s important photos capture Warhol hard at work on his art, but also at work on a context for it to be seen in. More hours got clocked-in on the art, but the context had more eye-catching glints. (Images courtesy Stephen Shore/Phaidon)

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

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