Taking a Look Behind Warhol’s Shades

In 1965 Voice co-founder John Wilcock watched Andy Warhol watching by JOHN WILCOCK NOVEMBER 9, 2018

By the spring of 1965, when Voice co-founder John Wilcock tried to make sense of the underground pop culture phenomenon of Andy Warhol, the paper and the artist were intrinsically connected. From Warhol’s paintings to his films to the live events he helped produce throughout downtown New York, the Voice was there to document the artist at work. In 1980, writing in his biography, POPism: The Warhol Sixties

Wilcock’s 1965 essay treated Warhol with a seriousness that many in the stuffy world of art criticism resisted. “His public work is more a subject for humor and wisecracks than for serious study,” he writes. “Maybe his true talent lies in provoking so much argument about whether he’s an artist without doing any of the recognizable things that the public accepts as ‘art.’ Warhol is an artist, a catalyst, a perceptive observer of contemporary life whose comments are sometimes astute by being no comments at all.”

The respect between critic and subject was mutual. Later in POPism, Warhol describes Wilcock as “one of the first journalists to cover the counterculture.” By the end of the Sixties the pair had teamed to launch Interview magazine, and in 1971 Wilcock published The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol, a collection of interviews with “a cast of thousands” including the artist’s friends, associates, and sundry superstars.

With next week’s opening of “Andy Warhol — From A to B and Back Again” at the Whitney Museum, this seems like a ripe opportunity to look back on what the big deal was in the first place.

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