Unboxing ‘Factory: Andy Warhol’

Factory: Andy Warhol was Stephen Shore’s High School and BFA all rolled into one, more or less.

I’ve been on a Stephen Shore roll of late… I don’t know what it is, but I’m 4 or 5 books in now, and I don’t feel the least bit bad about it.

After a few years of shooting on the streets of early 1960s NYC and selling 3 prints to Edward Steichen at age 14 (and two more to John Szarkowski a year later), Shore started making 16mm films, dropped out of High School, showed one called Elevator and met Andy Warhol.

At 17, he began a 2 year Internship at Warhol’s Factory, and Phaidon’s book is a nice, coffee table look at the work he made there.

There are some amazing shots in there: Shore is the real deal, and was from a very early age. Warhol and crew out to dinner at a restaurant in Chinatown in the wee hours. Warhol isn’t even in focus, it’s just a night with the boys. Edie Sedgwick and her eyebrows. There are some portrait-looking photos, a few possibly staged things, but mostly it looks like Shore, only in black & white…

Actually, it doesn’t look anything at all like Shore. It more looks like a BFA thesis exhibition, sorta, and the work looks like a stepping stone to American Surfaces and everything that came after, like American Surfaces was a stepping stone to Uncommon Places was a stepping stone to all the commercial stuff and the print-on-demand books and his Instagram…

Concept
Content
Design

Phaidon do a great job with coffee table books, and Shore’s early work is different than, but of an equally high caliber and quality to his later work, and it’s great to have this collection available, but I’d really like a monograph of some recent work, something out of the Instagram series or some new body of work to enjoy. After all, my path through Shore, so far, goes from the early 1970s to the late 1970s to the weird MoMA catalog to mid 1960s. Where’s Shore been since? The MoMA catalog answers that, sorta, but with small reproductions arranged in a strange, almost haphazard way.

Overall, I’d give Factory: Andy Warhol 4 stars, though I’d like to rate it lower, just out of spite or something.

As a Phaidon coffee table-type book Factory is readily available for not much. I like the glossy foil cover, reminds me, as it’s meant to, of Warhol’s clouds that I saw at the Musee dArt Moderne (I think) in 1996, and sorta suits the subject.

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