Despite being best remembered for his pivotal contributions to the pop art movement, Andy Warhol—born Andrew Warhol in 1928—was not limited solely to silkscreens. His willingness to experiment in any media he found interesting led to his designation as a producer, director, and entrepreneur. His subject matter came from anything and everything, be it popular culture, film, or advertisements, though his most well-known muse of choice were illustrious celebrities.
Famous for his expression, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” Warhol was unabashedly enthralled with the glimmer and light of Hollywood personalities that was carried over from his early youth. With the creation of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, which he co-founded with journalist John Wilcock, Warhol provided a medium that explored his interest in a variety of entertainment industries. As the years went by, the publication quickly became a symbol of the style, glamour, and larger-than-life feel of New York City and its cult of celebrity. This is perhaps reflected most clearly in the portraits done by Richard F. Bernstein that graced the covers from 1972 to 1989.
In each Bernstein portrait, a different celebrity likeness is painted in hyper-colored pastels that somehow soften every hard edge, drawing the eye of the reader as it enhances each twinkling eye and charismatic smile. The glowing complexions and electric hues transform each image into something between a photograph and an acrylic painting, capturing a blend of authenticity and Hollywood glamour as intended. And yet, any distance the cover creates between the person and the viewer is reduced when the issue is opened, unearthing a glimpse into the intimate workings of personalities such as Stevie Wonder, Yoko Ono, and Madonna. Even after the painted portraits were replaced with striking photographs in 1990 and the paper medium moved to a digital platform years later, the publication continued to reflect the spirit of Warhol’s innovation and curiosity until its end in early 2018.
We here at the SEAD Gallery are honored to offer an array of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine issues ranging from the years 1983 to 1990. We welcome you to come and explore a fascinating piece of art and publishing history.