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Andy Warhol, in the Context of His Time

By Hilary Moss

Larry Fink
 
 

The photographer Larry Fink’s new book puts images of Andy Warhol and the Factory crew and anti-war protests side-by-side. Here, “Fashion shoot” (1966).

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Larry Fink
 
 

“8th Street Crosstown Bus” (1965).

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Larry Fink
 
 

“Fashion shoot” (1966).

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Larry Fink
 
 

“Vietnam Moratorium” (1969).

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Larry Fink
 
 

“Fashion shoot” (1966).

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Larry Fink
 
 

“8th Street Crosstown Bus” (1965).

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Larry Fink
 
 

“Fashion shoot” (1966).

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Larry Fink
 
 

“Malcolm X” (1963).

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Larry Fink
 
 

“Fashion shoot” (1966).

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Larry Fink
 
 

“12th Street” (1968).

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Larry Fink
 
 

“Fashion shoot” (1966).

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Larry Fink
 
 

“115th Street” (1957).

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The photographer Larry Fink has never thought much of Andy Warhol. “His art was interesting as phenomena, but not terribly deep,” he says. “But what’s interesting is Warhol’s commodification of all things — and he was a hustla, and a reasonably cruel hustla, at that,” Fink pounds in his Brooklyn accent. “You know, Warhol became a bit more generous in his later years and his foundation does good work, so I’m not absolutely negative on Andy, but he wasn’t my favourite dude. Let’s put it that way.”

Recently, while archiving pictures from his nearly six-decade-long career, Fink came across a series of entirely unpublished images from the spring of 1966 featuring Warhol, Edie Sedgwick, Ingrid Superstar, Gerard Malanga, Lou Reed and John Cale. Intended to be a fashion shoot for the short-lived literary magazine “East Side Review,” many of the photos place the Factory cabal in the unfamiliar (to them) landscape of the Lower East Side, amid romping schoolchildren, bocce ball-players and a blood-splattered local butcher. The misplaced prints had the makings of a book, though such a Warhol-centric concept didn’t appeal to Fink. “I said, ‘Let’s miniaturise — or at least, equalise — Andy, and set him in a New York context and inside the actuality of the moment,’” he explains.

The resulting “Fink on Warhol: New York Photographs of the 1960s” shuffles portraits of the Pop artist and company with other snapshots from the same time period — of ordinary life and political happenings, like Malcolm X speaking outside Hotel Theresa or the expanse of speck-sized faces at the 1969 Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam. (The latter could easily be part of Fink’s recent photo essay from the Women’s March on Washington for “Vanity Fair.”)

He didn’t hesitate to package together the two distinct series because, to him, all things are integrated; politics can dominate the conversation and fashion still fits in between the lines. “My mother was a ‘Mink Marxist’; she was a member of the Communist party and they’d berate her because she liked to dress up,” he remembers. “She would say to them, ‘Everybody should dress this way — what’s the revolution for?’”