Andy Warhol meant a lot of different things to different people. For some of the post-war Abstract Expressionist old guard, he was a threat; for many of the younger, 1980s artists, he was a mentor; for many within the media he was a sensationalist seer. Yet few drew more influence from his presence than the US fine-art photographer Stephen Shore.
Shore met Warhol in 1965 when Shore was just 17, but already an accomplished photographer. The pop artist invited Stephen along to the Factory, enabling the teenager to both document Warhol’s infamous studio, and also learn how so talented and visionary an artist made his work. Yet, their friendship went beyond art.
Yesterday, on the 30th anniversary of Warhol’s death, Shore chose to post this picture on Instagram, captioned Andy Warhol, 1:35 a.m. in Chinatown. c.1966. It’s a great shot, though not the most memorable picture that appears in the photographer’s new photobook, Factory: Andy Warhol.
So, what made Stephen post the picture? An answer lies in this accompanying memoir, published in the book. Shore and Warhol had a close personal friendship, in part because they were geographically quite close too.
“I was the only person of the people who were hanging out with him, or one of the few, who lived uptown,” Shore writes. “Often we would wind up, say, in Chinatown at 2 a.m. and share a cab home. We’d have conversations. He was very open and unaffected. He would say things he wouldn’t have said in a more public situation.
“One time Andy asked me if I had seen some film on the Late, Late Show the previous night. I forget the film, but Priscilla Lane was in it. A 1930s tearjerker. And, in fact, I had. Andy wanted to know what the ending was, because he said he started crying and fell asleep.
Then he said, “And the television was off in the morning, so I guess my mother must have come in and turned it off.” He never talked about his mother. She was just mentioned as a part of his life, like, I woke up and the television was off, so I guess my mother turned it off.
"He never said anything reflective about her. But I remember, at the time, finding it stunning and poignant that he’s Andy Warhol, who’s just come from some all-night party or several of them, and has turned on the television and cried himself to sleep to a Priscilla Lane film, and his mother had come in and turned it off.”
The poignancy of Shore’s words and pictures remains undiminished, over the decades. To see more of these shots and read more recollections from Shore and others order a copy of Factory; Andy Warhol by Stephen Shore here.