Review by Tatiana Miranda
The Andy Warhol Diaries opens with the words: “Andy’s voice in this series is recreated using an AI program with The Andy Warhol Foundation’s permission." This high-tech aspect of the docuseries sets the precedent for what the six episodes will consist of. AI Andy narrates entries from the diaries, which is then paired with commentary from fellow artists, celebrities, and art historians. Close friends of Andy’s mix with those who have dedicated much of their life to studying his art. As they mention in the first episode, and is shown with the variety of perspectives about his sexuality in the final, there is no way to confirm what his life was actually like, as “there’s always going to be ten different stories by ten different people." Still, this series attempts to tell the story of Andy Warhol’s life in a way that is only possible due to advancements from the late twentieth-century and on.
Because Warhol’s art is a representation of pop culture, director Andrew Rossi makes the wise decision to include commentary on today’s state of pop culture and America’s current infatuation with celebrities. The introduction to the series showcases various Tik Toks, song lyrics, and interviews with celebrities, such as Kanye West, that reference Andy Warhol. Rob Lowe, who had been a friend of Warhol’s, mentions, “He would have loved today because of the freakshow that is contemporary culture." Due to social media, the 21st century is filled with 15 minutes of fame. Because of this, it’s the perfect time to acknowledge the culturally relevant artwork that Andy Warhol made about fame and iconography. Even beyond his paintings and prints, his magazine, films, and tv shows were all commentary on the culture at the time and what it meant to be famous. Nothing is more relevant to 2022 than that.
The Andy Warhol Diaries is based on the non-fiction book of the same name, which was edited by Pat Hackett, a journalist and friend of Warhol’s. The diaries were not written by Warhol himself, but instead transcribed from telephone calls between himself and Hackett, and then published two years after his death. While the series uses the diaries to tell Warhol’s story, it is also constantly in conversation with the way they are written and how they were received. The Andy Warhol Diaries are a mix of Warhol’s personal life and what life was like just in general at the time. Editor’s notes inform readers about the realities of AIDS in the eighties, the preppy style that Warhol’s lover Jon Gould wore, and so on. While the series is an ode to Andy Warhol and his life and artwork, it is intertwined with important societal moments at the time. His relationship with Jean-Michel Basquiat brings up the discussion of race and the way Warhol approached it, and Warhol’s personal relationships refer to the ever-present conversation of sexuality.
The Andy Warhol Diaries proves itself to be a series not just for Warhol fans, art historians, or even regular historians, as it is a story of suffering, loneliness, fame, and love that is fascinating for an average viewer. The mixture of talking head style interviews, narrations of the diaries by AI Andy, images and film footage Andy and others took, artwork, interviews of Andy, music, movie scenes, etc. represent the creative chaos that was Andy Warhol. The Andy Warhol Diaries give insight to the man himself, and are also an artistic representation Andy Warhol and the impact his art continues to have.
The Andy Warhol Diaries will be released globally on Netflix March 9th.