"There will always be a pre- and a post-Warhol," writes Philippe Tretiack, "and that post-Warhol period is having difficulty establishing itself." There also will always be people who consider Andy Warhol's work to represent the beginning of the end of serious cultural life in America. A flagrantly commercial antihero of the gay, big-city subculture, Warhol offended in so many ways. His cheerful, absurdist pop images of Campbell's soup cans, Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and the electric chair made serious subject matter with serious meaning a thing of the past. Everything Warhol did made serious film, painting, drawing, or printmaking look slightly silly. He flaunted his disregard for the pretensions of the fine artist, calling his studio "the Factory," churning out multiples, and publicly insisting that his work could be fabricated by practically anyone (until it was pointed out to him that this would significantly lower his prices).
In an excellent essay in the front of this small book, Tretiack places Warhol historically and esthetically, hitting all the high points of Warhol's flamboyant career and stylishly discussing the legacy of this '60s bad boy. The rest of the book is full of pictures--mostly Warhol's more famous images, but also some snapshots of Andy. Missing are a few pictures of Warhol's graceful, elegant shoe drawings and recipe illustrations, showing the kind of fine-art facility with which the artist began his career. But the rest is packed in here in all its flashy vainglory, including the green-tinged picture of a smiling Tricky Dick Nixon with the hand-lettered admonishment "Vote McGovern." At the end of the book are a brief chronology and a list of captions for the plates. --Peggy Moorman