“Warhol’s art has a shattering and mysterious authority,” says one reviewer. Really? When I walked around the Ashmolean’s exhibition, all I detected was the stale aura of yesterday’s celebrity obsessions. “Look, there’s Paul Anka! Is that Pia Zadora portrait supposed to be an ironic comment on the famous image of Marilyn?” Yawn. Still, the section on Warhol’s films brought back memories. When I was living in the East Village twenty-odd years ago, the art house cinema across the street from my apartment mounted a 30th annniversary screening of “Empire”, the insomnia-curing, eight-hour shot of the Empire State Building. When I arrived in the foyer I thought I’d be fighting my way through a melee of superannuated hippies, but there were barely two dozen people there. Once I’d got into the auditorium I think I lasted fifteen minutes before my eyelids began to droop. Some time in the afternoon I dropped by again, and the place was still practically deserted. It was the same in the evening when I paid another visit after leaving a concert in midtown. Where were all the beautiful people?
Ah well, I guess he still has a following. Spotted in a dealer’s shop in my neighbourhood the next day: a Warhol print of a farmyard friend, yours for a mere £32,000.