In the latest offering from Netflix, The Andy Warhol Diaries, executive produced by Ryan Murphy, and edited by Warhol’s longtime friend and collaborator, Pat Hackett, the streaming giant attempts to delve below the surface of the contemporary art world’s most public figure and unravel hidden layers of his personality.
“The Andy Warhol Diaries,” is an epoch in history, building over six episodes a sense of its brilliant subject as a man aloof from his innermost feelings and constantly doubtful of his own talent. Using AI simulation to simulate Warhol’s voice, the narration reveals some of the most intimate passages from the diary. And this glimpse into the internal life of Warhol, the world beyond the glitz and cameras, is the major focus of this uniquely captivating, although at moments lengthy, Netflix docuseries, from director Andrew Rossi.
A Sprawling Biopic
The sprawling biopic, largely in thanks to Warhol’s filmmaker status, has an abundance of archival footage, to guide its audience through facets of Andy’s life, using his diary as the supporting narrative structure. An abundant array of interviews from Hackett and a long list of colleagues, art experts, historians, and celebrity friends, including Debbie Harry, Jerry Hall, and John Waters, further fuel the story, but sometimes feel overwhelming and extraneous.
Preceding the Digital Age
The series is not only an exploration of Warhol’s life and work but a visual journey through the waning decades of the nineteenth century, guided by an artist whose contemporary work preceded the digital age. Narrated in a droll unemotional way, the name dropping, photography and captivating videos of iconic celebrities from each decade, including Mick Jagger, Blondie, and Halston to name a few, will make audiences long for a time machine to experience this dazzling world in person.
The premiere shows us Warhol’s rise to prominence and the creation of his original Factory in the 60s, at a time he was at the absolute height of his artistic fame. The second episode transports us to the 70s at a time when Studio 64 was at its prominence, and Andy’s daily life included a jaw-dropping list of celebrities. The fourth episode explores his relationship with famous graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, as they navigate the 80s, and the final episode takes us into the beginning of the 90s and the HIV epidemic.
Andy Warhol is an undeniably brilliant and talented artist, and although the series covers this in-depth, its emotional core is the love story between Warhol and Jed, with the artist himself often conflicted by the feelings of pain, that accompanied the price of partnership, starting in episode 2,
“The biggest price you pay for love, is that you have to have somebody around. You can’t be on your own. But then, the best love story is just two lovebirds in a cage.”
His Relationship with Muses
The Diaries reveal a hidden side of Warhol through its portrayal of his relationships with lovers and muses, Jed, Jon and Basquiat, rarely explored. Warhol is often labelled as androgynous or ‘sexless’ to put it in the words of art critic, Robert Hughes.
Furthermore, Rossi explores Warhol’s complicated relationship with Catholicism and homosexuality. The director notes that he still went to mass every Sunday whilst remaining heavily involved in the underground gay world – spending time with notoriously hedonistic figures such as Victor Hugo.
Those of us accustomed to watching the camp catchy Ryan Murphy productions, such as Glee, American Horror Story or even Halston, may be in for a surprise with his latest creative offering to Netflix. “The Andy Warhol Diaries,” tends towards the serious; offering an in-depth look at a man who despite his fame, was hardly known behind the shutters.
If you’re keen to learn about the inner-workings of Warhol’s artistic mastery, check out the full biopic series on Netflix. Until then, check “The Andy Warhol Diaries” trailer below:
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