In connection with the screening Andy Warhol: SCREEN TESTS, the MAC presents a talk by critic Blake Gopnik on Wednesday, January 25, at 6 p.m. at the Canadian Centre for Architecture.

Warhol: A Queer Life and Its Queer Art

Andy Warhol did his best to camouflage the details of his life, going so far as to propagate outright fabrications about it.  Should we respect that camouflage, or peer underneath at the biography it conceals? 

Warhol’s fabrications were not casual or unthinking. Like other creators and critics of his era, he followed Roland Barthes in believing that the author was dead — or at least disseminated across a work’s audience — so there was no point in looking into the life he had led. By distorting the record of his own life, Warhol, the Barthesian, made sure it was useless as a critical tool. But what if his distortions and cover-ups had their roots in the life itself?  This lecture looks at the facts of Warhol’s existence as a queer man in a grotesquely homophobic world and argues that his paintings and films can only be fully understood in that biographical context. It enforced concealments that are everywhere in the art.

Blake Gopnik was born in Philadelphia in 1963 and raised in Montreal, where he received his B.A. from McGill University, with a concentration in medieval studies and Latin. He then earned a PhD in art history from Oxford University for a dissertation on Renaissance realism and the philosophy of representation. Returning to Canada, in 1995 Gopnik became the editor of Insite, Canada’s leading magazine on architecture and design, and then was fine-arts editor and finally art critic at the Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper. In 2001, he was hired as the chief art critic of the Washington Post, where he spent the following decade writing about art and other aesthetic topics. He left Washington for New York in 2011 to become art and design critic for Newsweek magazine and its Daily Beast Web site, and later was critic-at-large for Artnet News. He is now also a regular contributor to the New York Times. In 2015 he was named a fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography, CUNY Graduate Center, New York, and then in 2017 was awarded a fellowship at the Cullman Center of the New York Public Library. He is the author of Andy Warhol, the first comprehensive biography of the Pop artist based on unprecedented access to his records.

The Musée d’art contemporain thanks the Canadian Centre for Architecture for its collaboration.