Neither Santa nor Scrooge


“Christmas is when you have to go to the bank and get crisp money to put in envelopes from the stationery store for tips. After you tip the doorman, he goes on sick leave or quits …”

Andy Warhol

The Philosophy Of Andy Warhol

 
 

Truman Capote, Andy Warhol and his dachshund. Photo credit: Mick Rock, 1979

 
 

By the time Andy Warhol wrote these words in the 1970s, he was extremely rich. He’d fulfilled the American dream but never claimed it made him happy. He describes himself in his book as a loner obsessed with jewelry and money. But he did have a talent for making gifts. As a young man he was entranced by Truman Capote, author of Breakfast At Tiffany’s, telephoning him almost every day. Capote dismissed him as “one of those hopeless people you just know nothing’s ever going to happen to”; then one Christmas he wondered if he was wrong. A friend sent him a golden shoe painted by Warhol, dedicated to Capote.

Warhol never really escaped his childhood. According to Capote, Warhol’s mother, Julia, was a bad-tempered alcoholic; she moved to New York to live with her son, still maintaining her pious ways, and they shared not just home life but work. Julia drew angels (Warhol got them published) that are closely related to his Christmas card designs. For him the American Christmas was an anthropological fantasy, something he watched reflected in Tiffany’s window. Yet it was a fantasy in which he tried extremely hard to participate. Of course, that’s what it is for everyone. The images of Christmas he created for Tiffany’s are of the perfection that everyone fails to attain.

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