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Andy Warhol Portraits edited by Tony Shafrazi published by Phaidon

From:     art book reviews
Category: Books
Date:     18 April 2007
Time:     05:42 AM


Andy Warhol Portaits. A big book of portraits by Andy Warhol. It does what it says on the tin. In the 
first pages we see installation views of Andy Warhol Portraits at Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York. 
Nice product placement by the editor, but never mind. In fact installation shots are often the best 
element of art books, as they reignite the fire of the artwork, saving it from the flatness of the page, 
restoring it to a 3D context and life.

Leafing through the more than 300 portraits, I had two feelings: melancholy at all these stars and rich 
folks some now forgotten, some now dead, some now aged, many still lingering if only in our 
collective consciousness; and appreciation for Warhol's genius in preserving so conclusively, 
completely perhaps, his obsession, celebrity. Really that doesn't capture his feat, which is to seem to 
just present things as they are (were), one of the most difficult and important things art can do. His 
portaits feel like THE record and you are glad it exists. Sometimes satirical in their presentation of 
power and money, sometimes soaringly aesthetic, all that strong red lipstick on women a mark of 
beauty, or the attempt at it,  often quite naff with all their swishy brush strokes, his portraits in total 
seem inevitable.

I wouldn't have had Debbie Harry on the cover.

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