February 22nd this year marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Andy Warhol's death. He's been gone for a quarter century. I wonder what Andy would have done with the new world of Twitter, You Tube, Facebook, and Photoshop. After all, he got there first, and the tools of social media could well be considered his proflegate progeny.
On a trip to Pittsburgh several years ago, I took a detour between the airport and the city to find his grave on a steep hillside in St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery in Bethel Park, a suburb south of Pittsburgh.
I found Andy without the final "A" rests downhill from his parents surrounded by pink petunias and Campbell's Soup cans:
Mr. and Mrs. Warhola's grave. His mother, Julia, lived with him in Manhattan from 1951 to 1971:
Andy's view for eternity:
Little brick suburban houses.
I found Andy's grave site to be oddly moving. He left his childhood home in Pittsburgh far behind to become an art world superstar, but was brought back to Pittsburgh to be buried on an ordinary hillside below his immigrant parents. Warhol himself, though, wasn't much of one for sentiment - as in this typically deadpan comment about death:
“I never understood why when you died, you didn't just vanish, everything should just keep going on the way it was only you just wouldn't be there. I always thought I'd like my own tombstone to be blank. No epitaph, and no name. Well, actually, I'd like it to say 'figment'.”
Here are the only Warhols that I own (thanks Alison!):
They're even signed (sort of). The soup inside expired on July 5, 2008 - twenty-one years after Andy.
Rob Pruitt's The Andy Monument has been gracing the northern end of Union Square near the building that housed Warhol's Factory from 1967-1973. http://www.publicartfund.org/robpruitt/
He looks, rather appropriately, like an alien cyborg with a Polaroid camera at the ready and holding a Bloomingdale's Medium Brown Bag.
The anniversary of Andy Warhol's death led me to think about the loss of Keith Haring on February 16, 1990 - twenty-two years ago - a casualty of AIDS. Of course Andy and Keith were friends.
Here's Keith as a boy; as a subway graffiti artist (white chalk on empty black advertising panels), and with Jean-Michel Basquiat (another deep loss):
I went to Deitch Projects gallery in Soho in February 2010 to see Keith Haring’s mural for the gym of the South of Market Childcare Center in San Francisco (SOMACC) that he created in 1985. The mural was dismantled in 2006 when SOMACC moved to a new location. The gallery was empty and I had my camera: