Tonight: Alfstad& Remembers Andy Warhol

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BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY MAR 3, 2017

In 1987, Vanity Fair tapped a young photographer named Christophe von Hohenberg to cover Andy Warhol’s memorial. The pop art icon had died only months prior, and the service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral promised to be a veritable who’s-who of the art world, the fashion world and all the other worlds that Warhol managed to unite through his strange magnetism. A friend of Warhol, Hohenberg took the assignment, capturing in stark black and white the strange and solemn procession of friends and admirers arriving to pay their last respects, the pressing crowds behind them filling the New York streets. But Vanity Fair never published the photos.

Vanity Fair wanted fashion—mourners in miniskirts. Hohenberg wanted cultural documentation. He kept the photos, ultimately publishing a book of the work—The Day the Factory Died—featuring letters from Warhol’s friends and subjects and contributed to a handful of exhibitions throughout the years, but the photos remained largely hidden from the more general audience.

Tonight, with the opening of Remembering Andy Warhol: Thirty Years Ago at Alfstad& Contemporary, Sarasota audiences will finally get their chance to view the images up-close and see what Hohenberg saw that day at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

On the walls of Alfstad&, arranged in simple white frames, Hohenberg’s work transforms into something far more than documentation. There’s the laundry list of celebrity attendees—Tom Wolfe, Yoko Ono, Christo, Raquel Welch adopting a power stance in sunglasses with the police barricades behind her—each paying tribute to the fallen icon, but the heart of the exhibit resides in the letters, some handwritten, collected by Hohenberg and presented alongside their photo. Sharing stories and fond memories, the correspondence exudes warmth and celebration, sadness at Warhol’s passing lightened by the richness of the experience of his friendship.

As much a celebration of the world Warhol inhabited and helped create and feed as the artist himself, Hohenberg also sees the exhibit as a way of remembering the figures that supported Warhol and were titans in their own right, such as art dealers Irving Blum and Leo Castelli, who championed contemporary and pop art. “There’s a world of education here,” Hohenberg says and starts laughing, “surrounded by a world of incredible hedonism.”

In addition to Hohenberg’s photography and the accompanying letters, the exhibit features modified prints and original silkscreens inspired by Warhol and his particular color palette, made in-house at Alfstad& with the staff.

Remembering Andy Warhol: Thirty Years Ago opens tonight at Alfstad& with a reception with the artist at 5:30pm. The exhibit runs until April 1, the thirtieth anniversary of the memorial, when Hohenberg will be back for another evening event.

Pictured: Yoko Ono at Andy Warhol's memorial. Photo by Christophe von Hohenberg.

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