Innovative filmmaking brings THE ANDY WARHOL DIARIES to life in ways I did not anticipate. The tapestry of material includes plenty of archival footage as he was often at the epicenter of a paparazzi storm. often while carrying his own camera. But the historical images and sound are amplified with personal remembrance, excellent cutting edge graphics, and recreation of Warhol's voice, all brilliantly done.
The series is perfect for art lovers. There is extensive footage of Andy using Polaroids as the template for his vast output of painting and graphics. To see him paint with a broomstick-length brush is astounding. Just as enjoyable are art experts today discussing changes in his projects- from art to publication of his famed Interview Magazine and his reality TV show - which anticipated and started so much of what is essential culture today.
Warhol famously cloaked himself in mystery regarding his sexuality. Through photos and films, this series honestly discusses his love for Jed Johnson, then Jon Gould. Jed was an innocent who started work for Warhol doing odd jobs, which morphed into movie editing and directing as he earned Andy's trust. After Andy was shot, Jed moved in with Warhol and stayed for 12 years. He was an internationally acclaimed interior designer by the time he moved out.
Lonesome and lost, Warhol sent roses the day after Jed moved out to Gould, a young executive with Paramount. Gould was born into wealth; work and family required he remained closeted. He forbid Warhol from mentioning him in the diaries, so the entry would read 'Paramount Pictures called today' instead.
At his height, Warhol was the celebrated center of fashion, art, film, and most things cultural. There is fun footage from Studio 54, beautiful images of his apartment, historical glimpses of New York, and even from his time with Nancy Reagan, who was featured on the cover of Interview Magazine.
Astute, poignant, and at times emotional commentary from Rob Lowe, Jerry Hall, Jed's twin Jay Johnson, Jon's twin Jay Gould, Jamie Wyeth, John Waters, Julian Schnabel, Debbie Harry, and dozens of others add a lovely texture. The last episodes that deal with AIDS, and the other deaths which impacted his life, are very powerful.
The technical elements of the series will impress, the most powerful being the computer-generated AI version of his voice, with the text read by esteemed actor Bill Irwin.
If you know nothing about Andy Warhol, enjoy this epic journey. If you are familiar with his work and story, I am sure you will learn something new. This portrait of an artist also examines a time - and a country - that was less complicated, yet ready for this artistic P. T. Barnum to introduce a new era.
THE ANDY WARHOL DIARIES is on Netflix.