Andy Warhol’s funeral, inevitably and suitably, turned into a media event. On April 1, some 2,000 people assembled at St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, to pay their respects. His friends were there, and those who claimed to have been his friends, or would have liked to be, and, of course, all those who were not but felt they could not afford to miss out on the occasion.
Photographer Christophe von Hohenberg was in New York too, on a commission for Vanity Fair magazine. As the news reached him, he changed his plans and set out to photograph the seemingly endless flow of celebrities as they made their way into the church. For years the pictures were never shown, but in 2006 it was decided to use them for a special exhibition to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Warhol’s death and to include a selection in a special book.
For more details, click HERE
Andy Warhol: The Day the Factory Died is small art work in itself. Designed by Daniel Stark, it features a dark faux leather cover with gold imprint, rounded corners and a white ribbon, which gives it the resemblance of a prayer book. But for a short introduction and a text by Charlie Scheips (printed in two columns in an almost biblical font), the book consists of full-page black and white pictures of people crossing the short distance between the limos and the church door. Those not wearing sunglasses mostly look straight ahead, eyes cast down, but there is always the odd guest who cannot resist the temptation of half-posing for the photographer. Thus the book becomes a gallery not only of famous people, but also of looks and expressions. This is, I think, what accounts for the strange fascination about The day the factory died. With such a dazzling array of stars, it could easily slide into a game book of celebrity spotting (with answers being conveniently supplied at the end of the book). And Andy would have had no objection, to be sure. But at the same time there is something very solemn about these pictures, with all these people hurrying past, not looking into the camera and not flashing smiles on the photographer. They seem to radiate a general awareness that an era had come to a close.
Ever since, Hohenberg's exhibition has travelled across the world. The interview below was recorded at the Amerikahaus in Munich, Germany.