Fifty two years ago, on June 3, 1968 Andy Warhol, the most recognized artist working in America was shot by Valerie Solanas, a disgruntled writer and former employee at his famous Mid-Town Manhattan Studio, "The Factory". The Factory was the hip hangout for artistic types, the Warhol “superstars”, his elite clique of followers was famed for its groundbreaking parties. In the studio, Warhol's workers would make silkscreens and lithographs under his direction. The large warehouse, with foil-covered, silver-painted walls. The combination studio, laboratory and party room became a mecca for the counterculture, attracting “every walk of life, from the most beautiful people to other artists, celebrities, musicians. It really was the center of creativity in the late ‘60s in New York City. Here is a clip of Andy Warhol at the factory:
Solanas, a marginal figure in the scene who had acted in some Warhol films, was convinced that Warhol was trying to steal her manuscript, although he had just misplaced it. When Warhol ignored her calls, in only enflamed the situation. On the day of the shooting, Solanas entered Andy Warhol’s sixth-floor office at 33 Union Square West carrying two guns and a massive, paranoid grudge. She confronted Warhol having a conversation on the phone and shot at him three times, the first two shots missing and the third wounding Warhol. She also shot art critic Mario Amaya and attempted to shoot Warhol's manager, Fred Hughes, point blank, but the gun jammed. Shortly after the shooting, Solanas turned herself in to a Mid-Town policeman.
After being in surgery for six hours, Warhol's heart had to be massaged. But Andy Warhol still managed to survive the attempt on his life made by disgruntled writer. Solanas had felt that the Pop artist had “too much control over [her] life” after he refused to return a film script she had written for him. The shooting, in 1968, ended the security-free communal existence of his studio, the Factory. This clip provides more background on Valerie Solanas and Warhol's actual voice overs from a recording of an interview he gave shortly after the shooting for the New York paper, "The Village Voice":
Solanas was charged with attempted murder, assault, and illegal possession of a gun. She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and pleaded guilty to "reckless assault with intent to harm", serving a three-year prison sentence, including treatment in a psychiatric hospital. Here is more about Valerie Solanas and her checkered experiences with Andy Warhol at The Studio at Union Square:
Warhol never fully recovered from the physical and psychological toll the shooting took on his body and it stayed with him until his death in 1987. However, the circumstances regarding, he felt he was given a "second chance" at life. Hist most artistic and creative, wile commercially successful years as an artist were in front of him. Within just a couple of years of his recovery Warhol would be working largely on celebrity portraits and commanding millions of dollars in fees, leaving his scrappy art collective days behind him.
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