Teatime on Mars

Few artists have been as groundbreaking in as many different media as Andy Warhol: Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Film, Video, Magazine Publishing, Music, and Multimedia. And the performance of his life. And his installation The Factory.

Another medium where Warhol created compelling works is People. His Drag Queen series included Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling. Warhol’s Fag Hag series included Jane Holzer, Viva, and Edie Sedgwick.

I’d like to focus on Andy’s masterpiece, “Edie Sedgwick.” The title Teatime on Mars, comes from J. Hoberman’s article Nobody’s Land: Inside Outer and Inner Space.

Outer and Inner Space is surely one of his greatest portraits. Her lips glossed and dark eyes shining, a pair of enormous dangling earrings casting a grid of shadows across her graceful neck, the film Edie was never more appealing than she is here. Poised and elegant, the former debutante acts as though it’s teatime on Mars.

J. Hoberman

it suits Warhol to abjure his own authorship and give someone else credit for his work, and that way he then is seen to not take a critical perspective

Gary Needham

The attributes J. Hoberman lists for my screen presence in Outer and Inner Space:

  • lips glossed
  • dark eyes shining
  • enormous dangling earrings
  • graceful neck
  • Poised and elegant
  • debutante

These are all Edie qualities. Andy didn’t give them to me. He didn’t “make” Edie Sedgwick. Or Jane Holzer. Or Candy Darling. But he created the media and the space for all of the many Factory personas to express themselves.

Why are they Warhol films, you stupid son of a bitch?

Paul Morrissey

In chemistry there are elements that like to bond, and those that don’t. Andy had so many open sites for bonding! His assistants always cared more about the technical quality of his screen printing than he did. Andy was shy; I was outgoing. At the infamous October 8, 1965 opening of Andy’s Retrospective at ICA Philadelphia there was a mad mob of people clamoring to see us. Andy was shy and frightened and terrified. I was glowing and radiant and worked the crowd. All I did was what I do naturally. But I’d never have had the venue for that expression in Cambridge or Santa Barbara. Just as a painter or dancer or rock climber in the flow works intuitively making one instinctive move after another, so Andy was always in the flow of his Circle. Using people as his medium, Andy drew and painted with all the mastery and genius of Druer or Michelangelo or Picasso or Pollock. The critics who go on about “Warhol’s crappy paintings” don’t seem to comprehend the pure human capital Andy surfed like no ringmaster before or since.

Edie was astonishing. She was really in show business, giving all those people something to look at… she, in fact, became the exhibition. Andy was just terrified, white with fear. Edie was scared to death but she was adoring every minute. She was in her element. She carried on this sort of 40-minute soliloquy into the microphone.

Sam Green, ICA Director

Andy Warhol’s Edie Sedgwick is a work of art that intersects all 5 themes of Warhol MOOC: Celebrity, Sex, Death, Money, Time.

Die Young Stay Pretty

Debbie Harry & Chris Stein

At the end of my time, when I die, I don’t want to leave any leftovers. And I don’t want to be a leftover. I was watching TV this week and I saw a lady go into a ray machine and disappear. That was wonderful, because matter is energy and she just dispersed. That could be a really American invention, the best American invention – to be able to disappear.

The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

I came about as close as anyone ever has to living out Andy’s desire to just disappear. Once again he had the capacity to enable the people in his Circle to do almost anything.

Other Artists

Other artists have used people as their media, but I don’t think anyone has ever sculpted people with quite Andy’s grace and power. Vanessa Beecroft’s Tableau Vivant’s share something with the Screen Tests and Andy’s other durational works. But in Beecroft the individual models tend to vanish into the whole of that landscape. In a Warhol tableau, each persona shines and sparkles in its own special way.

In George Bernard Shaw’s 1912 play Pygmalion, Henry Higgins “sculpts” Eliza Doolittle, but here Higgins hand is heavy. If Warhol chisels his living sculptures at all, it is not to force them into new shapes, but like Michelangelo he simply removes the excess to reveal the figure already existing in the marble.

Some have argued that Andy took my short life away. Or at least didn’t “save me.” In every parallel universe I’ve been able to visit these 42 years since my death, I’m sorry to have to report that Edie always dies young. It’s only the universes with Andy in them that Edie ever really matters. It’s only the universes with Andy in them that Edie ever really lives.

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Creative Commons Attribution, 2016