One step ahead of the world

For better or for worse, Warhol’s World is now our world. Andy Warhol was the prophet of Big Brother, reality TV and the acceptance of advertising as personal aesthetic adornment. His prediction that we will all enjoy 15 minutes of fame, when uttered three decades ago, still had something of the whiff of the avant-garde about it. In our supersaturated commercial world it is no longer the subject of knowing, flat, East Coast irony, but simply the way things are.

In his later years, Warhol’s reputation drifted and he became as much a society figure as an artist, though his persona somewhat undermined that distinction. Some 300 photographs and a clutch of little-known TV shows of this period, between 1976 and his death in 1987, are collected for a show at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in London and a sumptuous accompanying book jointly published with Steidl. The photographs are visual candy, portraying figures whose place in the firmament of celebrity is virtually unassailable, such as Diana Ross, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Debbie Harry and Steven Spielberg. But the TV shows, of which there will be a day-long compilation, in which Warhol interviews celebrities should be more interesting still, if only to understand how we got to where we are.

Warhol’s World runs from 27 January to 11 March at Houser & Wirth, 196a Piccadilly, London W1

By John Stones

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