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Tardiness is next to wickedness in a society relentless in its consumption of time as both a good and a service–as tweet and Instagram, film clip and sound bite, as sporting event, investment opportunity, Tinder hookup, and interest rate–its value measured not by its texture or its substance but by the speed of its delivery, a distinction apparent to Andy Warhol when he supposedly said that any painting that takes longer than five minutes to make is a bad painting.
Somehow Annie Flanders from the SoHo News heard I was doing pictures and was headed to Paris. She saw my worked, liked it, and asked me to take pictures for her paper while I was there, but told me I would first have to buy a real camera – 35-millimeter. I got a little book that taught me how to load film. I read it on the flight to Paris. Hours later, I found myself at the top of the Eiffel Tower with Yves Saint Laurent and Andy Warhol. It’s all been downhill since then.
Warhol and other Pop artists had brought the art religion of art for art’s sake to an end. If art was only business, then rock expressed that transcendental, religious yearning for communal, nonmarket esthetic feeling that official art denied. For a time during the seventies, rock culture became the religion of the avant-garde art world.
When I first came to New York, in the ’70s, artists were certainly divided about the Andy Warhol persona, and about the work. I thought it was utterly cool – I thought the Factory was utterly glamorous – but there were a lot of artists I really admired and respected who were older that kind of dismissed it, couldn’t get it, and felt that there was a lack of seriousness about it.
I’m attracted to the work of younger artists, and it’s affordable compared to mature art, so you can take a chance much easier on a younger artist. I can’t say that I’ve found an artist who I think is going to be the next Bacon or Warhol. You shouldn’t have to do that really. You go forward, and you find something new.
When I was sixteen and knew nothing about art, I sat through almost six hours of Andy Warhol’s Empire. I did not understand it but thought: this is in a major museum, it must be important, what is going on here? I stayed until the museum closed. His Screen Test films are some of my favorite works made this century, but you need to give them back the time they took to be made.
For me narcissism is not about money. For me, narcissism is something so romantic and something so human. Everybody is a narcissist. Some people admit it and some people don’t. As an artist, it’s important to be a narcissist. Look at Picasso, look at Warhol…. As an artist, you can get away with a lot of things that normal people cannot.
The only thing that shocks me is public interest in people who shouldn’t be interesting at all, like Jade Goody. We’ve gone past Andy Warhol and all those clever, arty and witty things that were done and said in the sixties…the fifteen minutes, and so on. Now your celebrities don’t have to do anything, they’re just voted in. And that shocks me.