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Farewell, Interview Magazine - Andy Warhol's Publication Folds After Almost 50 Years

  • Covers of Interview magazine displayed in the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA
May 23, 2018
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

The 1960s in America are perceived as the years of affluence. The economy was bursting, and so were other forms of human activity. Nevertheless, it is a decade of huge social and political shifts. The art scene had become turmoil of various approaches, methods, and innovations which severely changed the circumstances both locally and globally.

Pop Art was a leading phenomenon then, influencing the American society on many different levels. From photography, film, music, advertising to fashion, it sprawled the ideas of alternative lifestyles and experimentation. Thanks to Andy Warhol, who was one of the most prominent figures of the movement, and his artists’ activity, those ideas became implemented in the very core of the American culture and society.

Aside from his enormous silkscreen prints, The Factory (the iconic studio and gathering venue of various figures), The Velvet Underground and Superstars, Warhol also ran a publication called the Interview Magazine. It was an avant-garde project founded by him and British journalist John Wilcock in 1969. Despite the death of Andy Warhol in 1987, the magazine survived and remained influential for quite a long time, and after almost five decades of existence, it has now ceased to exist.

The first cover of Interview Magazine from 1969
Agnes Varda and the cast of her film “Lions Love…(and Lies)” on the cover of the very first issue of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, founded in 1969. Image via eastofborneo.org

The Story of Interview Magazine

The Interview Magazine was, as the title suggests, focused on the interviews with artists, figures from the music business, fashion icons, movie stars and creative minds. It was even called The Crystal Ball of Pop, since it offered to the readers an insight in the avant-garde circles of the times, from Warhol’s Factory and array of misfits which gathered there, over the decadence of Studio 54 in the mid-1970s, the downtown punk scene of CBGB and the famous counterculture venue the Mud Club.

Warhol’s method of interviewing was unusual since all of the texts were quite a freestyle – unedited or edited, which is a principle present in the artist’s book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again.

The magazine was initially given away to the trendy crowd which circulated within various hip places at the time. The signature look of the magazine was released by Richard Bernstein, who was the Interview Magazine cover artist for more than twenty years.

At the beginning of the 1970s, Bob Colacello was introduced as the new editor, since Warhol withdrew. He never stopped propagating the magazine and even distributed issues in the street to passersby’s in New York City.

The Business Collapse of Interview Magazine

Two years after Warhol’s death in 1989 the magazine was acquired by Peter Brant, a billionaire art collector. And so, Interview changed its course without Warhol being in charge, yet it never seized to lose fame and has become a more coherent popular culture publication, especially under Ingrid Sischy, who ran a magazine from 1989 until 2008. Afterward, it was edited by Christopher Bollen for a year and a half.

Finally, Interview was revived by the editorial team consisting of Glenn O’Brien and Fabien Baron, with a cover featuring model Kate Moss. From 2017, Karl Templer was creative director, while Baron was the editorial director. Despite all the efforts, on 21 May 2018 it was announced that the publication is only going to be published till the end of the year.

Unfortunately so, the end of Interview was followed by scandals. Chief editor Baron and his wife Ludivine Poiblanc, a fashion stylist, sued Brant Publications, Interview’s parent company. Due to alleged claims, the company owes an amount of $600,000 for their services.

On the other hand Karl Templer, who was accused of sexual misconduct, resigned from the post of creative director.

Interview Magazine – Cindy Sherman

The Cultural Value of The Deceased Magazine

Through certain media the rumors are spreading about the potential acquisition of Interview magazine by the Penske Media, the publisher of Rolling Stone, WWD and Variety, and the Saudi Arabian investment fund. Interestingly so, the magazine’s plunge has coincided with the removal of the iconic Village Voice from the press.

Once a shimmering mirror of the New York culture and arts, it now just seems like a fading memory. The cultural value of Interview Magazine is going to be examined further, since looking a from time distance that publication was more than just publication. It was a perfect insight into the circumstances of the times – from commercial sphere to counterculture.

Aside from Warhol’s apparent interest in earning money, the magazine was indeed an embodiment of his credo that in the future everyone is going to be famous for 15 minutes.

Featured image: Covers of Interview magazine displayed in the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, by Becca923 via Wikimedia Commons.