There are so many Warholian moments in this superb biography that it’s hard to know where to start ... it would be wrong to imply that Gopnik’s book is one that Warhol might have written himself or, indeed, even liked very much. Far from being a ready-made, assembled from the detritus of the scholarly-industrial complex, Warhol: A Life As Art is the product of years studying 100,000 or so original documents housed in Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum. The artist was a lifelong hoarder, and Gopnik’s research is intricately based on a florid haul of engagement diaries, business letters, love notes, theatre tickets and tax returns ... The first, and most audacious [claim], is that Warhol has 'overtaken Picasso as the most important and influential artist of the 20th century' ... This is big talk, but Gopnik persuasively assembles his case over the course of this mesmerising book, which is as much art history and philosophy as it is biography ...Gopnik is also keen to dislodge the many canards about Warhol’s private life. The most adhesive of these is the one about him surrounding himself with every kind of kink and freak while remaining fastidiously hors de sexual combat. Gopnik carefully rummages through the laundry basket to reveal plenty of evidence that Warhol was an enthusiastic player in the NYC gay scene from the moment he first stepped off the Greyhound bus from Pittsburgh in 1949 ... If we are determined to continue seeing Our Andy as fey and de-natured, Gopnik suggests, then it says more about our lingering homophobia that cannot bear to contemplate an artistic genius 'caught in the act with men.'
... a slow-burn marvel, carefully connecting sections of Warhol’s complicated life which at first glance don’t seem to interlink. The result is a revealing, cohesive whole ... Gopnik establishes throughout the biography the ways Warhol blazed a trail for the gay community to recognize and celebrate each other during a time when being out might lead to bodily harm, or worse ... an engrossing, comprehensive look at the twentieth century’s most famous artist, who 'always wanted to make work for a world where x and not-x could be true at the same time.' In Gopnik’s expert hands, we’re able to see the contradictions and possibilities in Warhol’s work.
Warhol lived one of the great lives of the 20th century, and he now has a biography worthy of that life ... Even at 976 pages, the book rarely leaves you wanting less ... In this textured portrait of an artist of annihilating smoothness, Gopnik has finely rendered many of Warhol’s milieus. Perhaps most endearing is the intricate social geography of gay New York in the 1940s and ’50s ... In effect, Gopnik has written two books. The first is an exhaustively researched and definitive account of the life. The second is a series of apologies and excuses for a tax cheat, voyeur-sadist, bad son, skinflint, publicity hound, social climber, shopaholic. Some small-bore skepticism along the way might have helped make the canonical judgment more credible.