For centuries, the world of visual art was filled with mythical giants, people whose genius was not revealed to the world until long after said person's demise or people whose genius so overwhelmed others that no one dared get close to the figure. Thankfully, Andy Warhol was neither of those two types of artists. And the world knows this due to the IRS, a woman who originally just wanted a little excitement in her life, and a man who refused to censor himself.
Andy Warhol was a lifelong Democrat who criticized the Nixon administration, thus sparking a series of intense IRS audits. To help make these audits easier, he and his then-assistant Pat Hackett began cataloguing his daily expenses and saving every single receipt he received. This grew into a routine that lasted long after Hackett stopped officially working for Warhol, through phone conversations and taped recordings. Warhol would inject bits of his everyday life into the financial chatter and he and Hackett became close friends and confidants. Approximately two years after Warhol's passing, Hackett compiled all of her notes together, made it into a cohesive whole, and published it as The Andy Warhol Diaries. And the Warhol fan should silently thank Hackett every day for this.
Because of the intimate friendship these two people enjoyed, the reader is able to get a more personal, more vulnerable view of one of the art world's most original and celebrated figures. By devouring the pages of this easily readable text, one can understand that for all the glitz and glamour associated with this artist's public persona, his private life was actually not that much different from that of the "average" American. He went to work, he paid his bills, he interacted with his friends, he tried to navigate the tricky world of love and romance, and experienced the same level of disappointments, setbacks, rejection, and confusion as that of any other human being in the post-industrial world.
Though that isn't to say that Warhol's life was completely devoid of the glitter that seemed to shine on the surface. To delve into the diaries is to escape into the celebrity-filled world of Manhattan in the 1970s and 1980s, where one could bump into Jacqueline Onassis, Bianca Jagger, Diane von Furstenburg, or a massive array of other celebrities, all of whom Warhol had at least brief encounters with. Warhol did live what some might describe as a jet set lifestyle, flying off here and there to do promotional work, to attend various events held in his honor, to work with some new art patron of his, or on occasion to just relax and interact with his friends, both famous and non-famous. But he was by no means a spendthrift; indeed, many passages in the diaries indicate his desire to save money or to invest it, not wishing to squander his money away and return to the life he had as a child in a poor immigrant family. So his jet-set lifestyle did have its limits and he did end up spending a tremendous amount of time in and around his NYC home base, choosing to do most of his lounging at his vacation home in Montauk.
One might think that all of the above might tell the full story of The Diaries, that this means The Diaries are no longer worth checking out. One would be wholly incorrect, there, because The Diaries are so much more than just a chronicle of an artist's life. They give the reader an insight into the artist's personality that only his own words, lovingly preserved by his former assistant, can give. They make the reader fall in love with Warhol, make the reader forever protective of him, make the reader wish he or she could've gotten a chance to know the late artist before his untimely and unfortunate demise in 1987. For this and many other reasons, this publication is an absolute must-read for anyone even remotely interested in "that guy who painted Campbell's soup cans" and is worth every single penny of its list price and then some.