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LOS ANGELES — “Now, it’s Andy Warhol’s time,” sang Marianne Faithful Thursday night during Larry Gagosian’s dinner. She couldn’t have been more right.
The Gagosian gallery opening, featuring collaborative paintings by Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the after party at Morton’s were among a half-dozen events last week that brought together Warhol fans like Dennis Hopper, Anjelica Huston, Ed Ruscha, Andre Balazs, Oliver Stone and Lisa Marie.
“There’s Warhol-mania everywhere,” noted Stephanie Seymour, in from New York for the events. A double-exposed Polaroid of Basquiat hangs around the corner at the Grant Selwyn Fine Art gallery along with 21 others that Warhol snapped, while more drawings, paintings and photographs can be found at the Ikon gallery and Bobbie Greenfield Gallery in Santa Monica, Kanto in West Hollywood and even at the Palm Springs Desert Museum. Tonight, the UCLA Hammer Museum screens the Edie Sedgwick vehicle “Outer and Inner Space,” and the American Cinametheque will show 16 of Warhol’s flicks starting July 31.
But the pop star has also taken to the streets. Liz and Mao stare down blankly from billboards and lamp poles. Marilyn smiles from the cover of Angeleno Magazine. And the windows of Arcana on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade are full of Warhol books. Of course, the biggest statement of all is the retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, which opened to the public this weekend. The show, organized by art historian Heiner Bastian, is enormous, filling the 25,000-square-foot museum. (A smaller version began in Berlin at the Neue Nationalgalerie last year, then moved to the Tate Modern in London.) “I’m seeing things I’ve never seen before. And God knows, I’ve seen it all,” boomed Irving Blum, who gave Warhol his first solo show, at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in 1962. For his part, Blum loaned his two “Liz” canvases to MOCA, a first to any museum, he pointed out. Warhol-mania also inspired the city’s unprecedented gift of $250,000 to bring the show — and subsequently, tourists — to town.
A first wave of visitors sat down to a whopping dinner party on Wednesday night when Patina served 1,100 guests, including Huston and Robert Graham, Charlize Theron, Kelly Lynch, Portia di Rossi and Steve Martin in a tented freeway underpass tricked out like a latter day Factory. Beyond the entrance — wallpapered in Brillo boxes — the cocktail lounge was filled with rectangular mylar balloons a la Warhol’s “Silver Clouds.” Staff members were crowned in silver Warhol wigs. Jeremy Scott’s gang of cheeky gals and transvestites dressed in his fall collection capered throughout. And through the backdoor, guests entered MOCA and finally got a view of the exhibition.
Marisa Tomei was transfixed in front of the “Last Supper” canvases, while the Arquettes — Courteney and David — took their time through the “Disaster” series, with its imagery of car crashes, suicide and an electric chair.
“Part of Andy’s universal appeal is that his work is very much about what Los Angeles, what Hollywood, is about,” offered Joel Wachs, president of the Andy Warhol Foundation. “Andy was a New York artist because he lived there. But he was a L.A. artist in the sense of his appreciation of celebrity.”
In another room, not far from his 1971 silkscreen and acrylic image, Hopper stood in awe of the turnout. “This whole thing is something Andy would’ve loved.”