Books & Literature

Book Review: Andy Warhol A to Z: The Life of an Icon from Adman to Zeitgeist, by Steve Wide

The third encyclopedia in Steve Wide’s A to Z series of celebrity biographies focuses on iconic pop artist Andy Warhol, featuring the locations, images and people of his life.

Steve Wide’s latest addition in his A to Z series focus on the iconic artist extraordinaire, Andy Warhol. Like the two that came before, about David Bowie and Prince, Andy Warhol A to Z: The Life of an Icon from Adman to Zeitgeist is a collection of alphabetical specificities and generalities.

Once more, Wide takes us on a, literally, lettered journey, but not a linear one – although it is an irony that ‘A’ covers where Warhol started and the book ends with the true nature of his legacy.

It is all covered off in here, from his early days in advertising to The Factories, of which there were several locations, and of course, the iconic images and people.

Alongside Warhol are the cavalcade of identifies – Nico, Edie Sedgwick, Lou Reed (and The Velvet Underground), Ultra Violet, Ondine, Basquiat – even John, Yoko and Mick Jagger. Don’t forget the visual feast – Brillo and Campbell’s Soup, the triptychs of Marilyn and the iconic collection of movies, ranging from the bizarre (like Sleep and Andy Warhol Eats a Hamburger) to the X-rated (including Blood for Dracula and Flesh for Frankenstein – other titles would make the editor blush!).

Wide has, from book to book, found his stride in telling the tale without the need for overt detail and, unlike the first book in this series, the repetitions give new glimpses, rather than retelling the same story in a different way.

As with his book on Prince, Wide has once again teamed with illustrator Alice Oehr. The illustrations bring a playfulness to the written word, which enhances the simplistic joy of this titbit collection of notes, anecdotes and stories from the life of the legendary Andy Warhol. There are even references to both of the focuses of his previous books, which makes it an interconnected part of the trilogy.

It’s been over 30 years since Andy left behind an artistic legacy and a unique career. Wide’s book covers it in a way that will continue to ensure that Warhol’s fame lives beyond the ’15 minutes’.

We now await his next book about Grace Jones, due to be released in October this year. It will be his first about a female artist and a living icon. While we wait, though, there are now three alphabetical delights to enjoy.

Reviewed by Glen Christie

Rating out of 10:  9

Published by: Smith Street Books and distributed by Simon and Schuster
Released: July 2018
RRP: $29.99 hardcover

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