Fifteen Minutes . . . And Still Ticking

New Andy Warhol bio

In the past, Wayne Koestenbaum, a contributor to these pages, has written, in biographies as exquisitely crafted as a Fabergé bijou yet modern as next season's Prada handbag, on bigger-than-life personalities like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Maria Callas. In Andy Warhol, published this month by Viking, he deconstructs the Pop artist. Koestenbaum's forte has always been his uncanny ability to bare truths without baring fangs. Who else, for example, would have summed up Warhol quite like this: "It is false to say that Andy Warhol left nothing behind. He left behind his own example, the gestures and actions of a comic, heroic life; he'd rather have been called a heroine, but he was less Lois Lane and more Superman, transforming his alien self into a costumed, metropolitan ubiquity. As well known for his odd verbal style as for his art, he stands before us as a formalist, an abstract thinker who reformed the way we see concepts, names, species, and categories. . . . By collecting and socializing, by making amused cameo appearances, by producing abundant sculptures, paintings, prints, drawings, films, photographs, videos, time capsules, and books, Andy organized and boxed the world into digestible units, modular perceptual containers that can be stacked, repeated, and counted, and that might last forever."