Tag Archives: Quentin Crisp

It’s Warhol actually, as in holes, Andy Warhol.

If you want to get under the silver wig of Andy Warhol this festive break down, you can do so at the exhibition currently on display in Liverpool Tate Gallery. In his twenties in NYC, Andy aspired to be just like Truman Capote and his fixation with celebrity and the fame machine was a theme that permeated his work. He desperately wanted to stand out, at one stage in his early career if he couldn’t make tie ends match up, he’d just cut them off.

In his book ‘The Life and Death of Andy Warhol’, Victor Bockris relates how Muriel Laton, an interior designer who was struggling to support her own gallery, planted the seed that in turn helped Warhol to become an art sensation. He was too late to paint the cartoon style that had made the careers of the likes of Roy Lichtenstein.

Laton asked Warhol, ‘What do you like most in the whole world?’
To which the Pop artist replied, ‘I don’t know, what do I like most in the whole world?’
‘Money!’ she replied. ‘You should paint pictures of money.’
‘Oh gee,’ Andy gasped, ‘that really is a great idea.’
She continued, ‘You should paint something that everybody sees every day, that everybody recognizes….like a can of soup.’

The money, the cans of soup and the Marilyn Monroes, the work that helped to make him and put the popular in Pop art, are all on display in this exhibition.

andy-warhol-9-dollar-black-blue-diptych

The standout image for me was the Silver Elvis, a faded black screen-print of the King, a life-size figure slashed with silver paint, drowning the image, giving it a ghostly appearance, like a giant silver screen that is losing power, fading away but still radiating.

Halcyon Gallery

It is a metaphor for the demise of cinema today. Films now are competing with the need for instant gratification. They can be viewed on iPads, phones or laptops and seen anywhere. The cinema has resorted to gimmickry to try to sell movies; practically everything is being offered in 3D. Thankfully, 2014 has seen films like  ‘Lilting’ and ‘Ida’ prove how powerful a film can be when seen on the big screen, or the ‘forgetting chamber’, as Quentin Crisp called it.

There is a room that replicates a NYC happening and tries to convey what the atmosphere of the Factory must have been like. At first it’s exciting but the repetition of loud and explicit S & M video montages soon becomes mundane, again I guess what the Factory must have been like, a type of candy floss techno hell.

What is striking in this Liverpool show is the vast quantity of commercial output on display. A wall of Interview front covers harks back to a period when celebrity was something to aspire to and not the infectious social disease it has become. Warhol cited, ‘everybody will be famous for fifteen minutes’, but the reality now is ‘everybody will be famous for fifteen seconds on the internet.’

I think my favourite Warhol work is his preliminary sketches for window design, his commercial art-work. A period when works were hand sketched, drawn and painted. A whole school of craftsmanship.

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If you feel like finding out more about the artist, I recommend the film ‘Basquiat’ about the underground graffiti artist which sees the Thin White Duke, Mr David Bowie, stick on a silver mop and camp it up as Andy. The excellent ‘I Shot Andy Warhol’ takes you into the curious mind of Valerie Solanas, who did just that, as well as writing an infamous missive called The SCUM Manifesto – nothing to do with The Sun newspaper – but the Society for Cutting Up Men, her one woman party.

You may wish to see some of the films that Warhol directed himself, like Empire, BlowJob or Chelsea Girls. ‘My Hustler’ is a dirty rude little flick that mixes desperation with sleaze and is quite bitterly funny.

There is also the fabulous track by David Bowie, Andy Warhol, which failed to impress the artist. With lyrics, like

Andy Warhol looks a scream, hang him on my wall,

I wonder why?

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A reading chair

If I was a king, I would have a chair purposefully crafted out of volumes of books. Books that I have read through the years. Books that now I find are inside of me.

The iconic Iron Throne in the infamous television drama, Game of Thrones (adapted from the novels by George R. R. Martin), is allegedly forged from 1,000 swords. I guess this is the source that inspired me. But alas, I am not a king at this particular moment in time, so I have settled for a leather black studded Art Deco-style chair. The type of seat that will improve with age, the more battered and worn it looks.

The Reading Chair 2

I was inspired to purchase a designated seat to just read in after enjoying horror master Stephen King’s book simply titled, ‘On Writing’.

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things: read a lot and write a lot.

So read I where I can, but I have a favourite place: the blue chair in my study. So far in 2014, I have read the graphic horrors penned in GRIMMS FAIRY TALES, been to prison and stolen books in 1930’s Paris with JEAN GENET, danced the Charleston at THE GREAT ‘Jay’ GATSBY’s and warded off stray donkeys from Betsey Trotwood’s lawn in DAVID COPPERFIELD. Who knows what adventures await me next?

The Reading Chair

Quentin Crisp said cinema is The Forgetting Chamber, where you forget all your daily troubles and dissolve into the cinema screen. To have my very own chair to escape into the world of literature is essential for sanity, health and well-being. In fact, I think Schopenhauer said it best:

I’ve never known any trouble that an hour’s reading didn’t assuage.

I don’t know where this overgrown bush of books has come from; I cannot resist picking up the odd title as I go. I am sure there are worst habits to have.

The Book Bush

Thankfully, Stephen King agrees with my reading addiction:

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

desk

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A bloody valentine – Hitchcock review

A guest post from Liverpool playwright and poet John Maguire, offering an alternative to the clichés this Valentine’s Day…

Red roses, overpriced menus in restaurants that should know better, couples who only come to show the world that they are in love, or feel the need to bombard social media sites with images and status updates that cause nausea, Valentine’s Day may not be everybody’s idea of a good time.

Any real romantics truly know that love and gestures of adoration should occur all year round.

If you’re looking for an alternative kind of love affair, Sacha Gervasi’s HITCHCOCK could be just that.

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The film explores the creative pairing of Hitch and his wife of 54 years, Alma Reville, whilst making – what some call – his most distinguished feature PSYCHO.

A working relationship that was an absolute necessity for his success. His wife being his chief critic and champion, noticing Janet Leigh blinking after the infamous shower death sequence and protesting for the inclusion of Hermann’s orchestral score during the scene that did indeed leave audiences screaming.

The complexities of two artistic temperaments in collaboration are explored and the dangers of taking things for granted are starkly portrayed. Sometimes, simple gratitude can be overlooked and inner frustrations may bubble underneath but eventually erupt. Artistic partnerships are rendered more interesting when examined under cinematic autopsy, like the Frida Kahlo bio about her relationship with Diego Riveria, this outing does not judge and emphasises things are never always black and white. Behind every successful individual there is generally always an underpinning support mechanism, an individual who pushes, compliments and encourages but at the same time needs to have that function to be fulfilled and Alma Reville is just that.

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The movie is a tango ballad of the self-doubt, inner frustrations and understated emotions between the husband and wife that eventually explodes into a realisation.

Helen Mirren’s Alma dominates the screen with her compassionate and modest portrayal of the puppet mistress helping to drive the Hitchcock vehicle. The Rumi term ‘unfold your own myth’, is something that is never more apparent than in Hitchcock, the master of hype, long before we had the social media, disgracebook, YouTube and Twitter, to raise awareness. Hopkins in his distinctive flair adopts a less is more approach with simple gestures and a fixed glare that unsteadies the viewer and shows so much of the inner demons that drove the master craftsman.

Quentin Crisp talked of the cinema being the forgetting chamber, a place to be totally immersed in the illusion, to shy away from all problems and woes. Hitchcock had an astute understanding of how to play an audience’s emotions and etch his films deep into their subconsciousness. Art that would leave an aftertaste.

So for a different date this week, do not be typical and say it with flowers, say it with this bloody valentine.

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