Oral History | Remembering Andy Warhol, the Man With the Camera


At the time of Andy Warhol’s death in February 1987, there were about 50,000 photographs, many of them Polaroids, in his estate. The Warhol Foundation gave about half of the pictures, which at the time were valued at next to nothing, to small museums in cities like Scranton, Pa., and Portland, Ore. The rest have largely gone unseen. A little over a decade ago, Jim Hedges, a retired investment banker, began aggressively acquiring photos from the Warhol Foundation. He now operates Hedges Projects, a private dealership focused on all things Warholian, out of a West Village brownstone.

Last spring, Hedges Projects sold some of its works through the online luxury goods retailer 1stdibs. Now, the Web site is back with a second batch, titled “I’ll Be Your Mirror,” featuring more Hedges-owned work as well as Warhol pieces from the private collections of a pair of Warhol associates: Pat Hackett, Warhol’s longtime typist; and Sam Bolton, who assisted Fred Hughes, the manager of the Factory. The works go on sale online on Sept. 6. Hedges has also curated them in a brick-and-mortar exhibition at 1stdibs’ 10th floor gallery in the New York Design Center, on view through Oct. 7.

The images on sale and on display represent the mature period in Warhol’s life, after the Valerie Solanas shooting and the heyday of the Factory as a countercultural mecca. Warhol’s pictures aren’t widely heralded, but photography was a medium that he became increasingly serious about late in life, and might well have pursued more fully had he lived past 1987. Here, Hedges, Hackett and Bolton remember Warhol, the photographer.

Jim Hedges: When I sold my investment business, I decided that I wanted to take the lessons I’d learned and apply them to the art world. I felt that Warhol’s photography was deeply underappreciated, undervalued and misunderstood.

Pat Hackett: Photographs were where Andy was going with his own career. He wanted to devote more and more time to it. I’m kind of puzzled by the short shrift that the photographs got by the foundation. I don’t think it reflects the importance that Andy was putting on his photography at the end.

Sam Bolton: The Factory that I worked at was the last Factory. It was more of a commercially viable thing. Times had changed, and this was more of a big branding business. It wasn’t the kind of environment of people lying around, tripping out on drugs.

Hedges: Sam Bolton was this young kid who came from a privileged family in Newport, R.I. Andy was known for adopting these rich kids with broken wings. Sam was the last one that Andy took in. He became Andy’s eternal date for the last four or five years of his life. Sam was there taking pictures that are pretty rock ‘n’ roll.

Bolton: Andy was very businesslike. He’d come into the office every day around 1 o’clock. He’d have his lunch, return phone calls. Then we did portrait sessions, sometimes multiple times a day.

Hedges: In the ’60s he would take portrait subjects down to Times Square and put them in a photo booth, and they’d make these funny photo booth strips. Then in ’76 he started working with a Polaroid in the Factory. That was the same year that he started taking black-and-white photos with a 35-millimeter camera. In the ’80s he started stitching those together to create four- and six- and nine-panel works.

Hackett: When I met Andy, he was taking Polaroids. There were no automatic focus cameras yet. Once he could turn a camera around and focus, that was it for him. He loved taking pictures of everybody and everything. He would photograph wherever he went.

Bolton: We’d go out at night, and Andy would shoot everything. Shows, plays, concerts, occasionally nightclubs. He loved to go to the Palladium. This was in the ’80s. The younger kids then didn’t know who he was. Anybody over a certain age was thrilled to have him take their photo. He gave me a camera. If he was taking pictures, then I was in the background taking my own shots.

Hackett: Andy gave me a camera, too. He didn’t give any guidelines. He expected you to pick up hints. But I didn’t pick up the hints quickly enough that he should be in every photograph. He came right out and told me, “If you don’t have me in the photograph, then you don’t have a photograph.” I realized he was right — that’s what makes it a story. It’s Lana Turner with Andy. It’s Marvin Gaye with Andy. It’s Jack Nicholson with Andy.

Bolton: The next day I’d take the film to the girl at the lab. They’d send back contact sheets, and he loved going through them and making prints of those. Then he did the sewn-together photographs. He did his first show with Robert Miller, and it was a new addition to his repertoire as an artist. I think it would have grown into a much bigger thing.

Hedges: When people found out that I was putting this material together and starting to show it, they started coming out of the woodwork. People like Calvin Klein, Bianca Jagger, Diane Von Furstenburg — they’ve been reaching out to me saying, “Show me what you got. I want to see it.”

Hackett: There are things that Andy gave me that are precious: a print that he signed on the back “Pat, darling, love and kisses Andy,” for instance. I can be objective about selling these photographs because they never received the recognition they deserve. Andy’s stuff should be out where people can enjoy and appreciate it. It’s not like I have some huge home where I’m inviting people over to see my collection.


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I Love Warhol

I Love Warhol