Andy Warhol is one of the universal answers to the question: Who would you pick if you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive? A collaboration with The Elizabeth Collective and Maison Gerard is offering more than just a meal but an intimate peek into two unfiltered days with the artist. In 1981 on assignment with the German magazine Stern, fine arts photographer Robert Levin discovered what two days would be like with the Pop Icon by actually spending 48 hours shadowing him. Only a handful of these images were ever published.
Decades later, Maison Gerard is revealing the collection to the public for the first time at the Elizabeth Collective, the former residence of legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor. Where is Marilyn Monroe for this reunion?
“Robert shot these photos in 1981, and a few were published by a German magazine, but the rest remained pretty much untouched in a box”, says Maison Gerard owner Benoist F. Drut. “The idea of unboxing something that has never been seen was quite exciting.”
Despite never being seen, Benoist emphasizes the rarity of the photographs because of their intimate nature. The black and white pictures expose a human face to all the color and fame.
“You know the public persona. Some of the images are his public life. But others are him at the dermatologist, and he probably spent four hours there. There are pictures of him buying bulletproof clothing. Nothing was staged. He went freely with Robert, and they got along really nicely. Nothing was off-limits.”
Millennials never lived in a time were Andy Warhol lived or died but just like Elizabeth Taylor or Marilyn Monroe, Warhol holds a godly presence in pop culture. Beyond being the theme for Calvin Klein’s most recent campaign or the Whitney Museum introducing the largest compilation of his work to the 21st Century in their latest exhibit, today he is more famous for being Andy Warhol than anything else. But that leaves the question unanswered: Who is the man behind the brand?
From luxurious skincare routines at the dermatologist to getting fitted for a bulletproof vest, the photographs were as relatable as the six-story multi-million dollar townhouse displaying them. But behind the luxury lifestyle is the artist living it. This vulnerability makes the images unique. Warhol’s omnipotent flair is flipped, and, suddenly, it’s us glancing down at him. He cared about clear skin. He worried about being killed. Unlike the Whitney Museum or Calvin Klein, Maison Gerard is not presenting the legacy of his work but the human being.
Benoist furnished the Beaux-arts mansion with an impressively eclectic array of works from the 1800s to today, admitting that 18th-century French furniture was his first love. “The craftsmanship, the materials, form, and function; it is incredible how much a time period can influence art. And, how art influences the world.”
So, how does interior design’s most wanted fantasist and curator pick his pieces?
“Buy what you like because it will be the only thing you are able to sell. And, even if you think it will be a blockbuster, you might end up living with it for 10 years, so you better love it.”
There is nothing at Maison Gerard that he did not make that commitment with.
“You know, you are going to have to look at it every day. It better be something you find relevant and interesting. It is easy to find beauty in nothing and not pay attention, but I will take you to the elevator. Have you seen it? The elevator here is brilliant.”