Executive producer Ryan Murphy takes Andy Warhol enthusiasts and neophytes alike into a melancholy immersion of the man’s life and work — using his own words and voice reconstructed with artificial intelligence — in “The Andy Warhol Diaries.” Directed by Andrew Rossi (“Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times” and “The First Monday in May”), the six-part documentary series debuts March 9. Watch the official trailer below.
While Warhol was seemingly scrupulous about keeping his private life private — often flippantly telling journalists he was “asexual” — there’s plenty beneath the surface of his groundbreaking 20th-century art to suggest otherwise. That’s one of the achievements of “The Andy Warhol Diaries,” which melds talking-head testimonies from those who knew him (Julian Schnabel, John Waters, Fab Five Freddy, Jerry Hall, Debbie Harry, and many, many more) with impressionistic montages of his work and archival snippets from his New York scene at the Factory. There’s plenty of the salacious here, from Warhol’s brushes with drugs, his seeming social residency at Studio 54 into the early morning hours, and his closeness with onetime Halston lover Victor Hugo, whom nearly all of Warhol’s associates despised. But “The Andy Warhol Diaries” is more along the lines of “Listen to Me Marlon” in terms of outlining how sad and lonely Warhol often was, wanting to be a “machine” with “no emotions.”
Throughout his life, Warhol regularly dictated his diaries over the telephone to journalist Pat Hackett, beginning in 1976 up until his death in 1987. Those diaries were published posthumously, and now get a full-blown documentary treatment for the first time here. The team behind the series uses AI technology to convey those correspondences in Warhol’s own voice as the narration. The expansive series looks closely at Warhol’s love life, from his open-secret long-term relationship with interior designer Jed Johnson to his tragic romance with openly gay Paramount executive Jon Gould, who eventually died of complications from AIDS.
“The Andy Warhol Diaries” offers an unusually intimate vantage point into understanding the artist as a person, a shy closeted kid raised in Pittsburgh by Austro-Hungarian immigrant parents who concealed his shyness in adulthood behind the artifice of makeup and, of course, his many wigs.
Executive produced by Murphy, Dan Braun, Josh Braun, Stacey Reiss, and Stanley Buchthal, and directed by Rossi, “Andy Warhol Diaries” is a must-see for Warhol fans and newcomers looking to understand his work’s impact then and now.