By Crash redaction

On June 2nd, Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery in London will host the inaugural exhibition of Bob Colacello, American photographer and writer who’s longevity can’t be topped. Titled « It Just Happened, » this exhibition marks Colacello’s first solo show in London, focusing on his remarkable collaboration with Andy Warhol during the vibrant party scene of the 1970s and 1980s. Curated by Elena Foster and the Ivorypress team, the exhibition presents a captivating blend of Colacello’s photographs, letters, magazines, and memorabilia, transporting viewers back to an era of hedonism, lust, opulence and boundless possibilities.

As the editor of Interview and Andy Warhol’s trusted right hand at the magazine from 1971 to 1983, Colacello had a front-row seat to the glamorous world surrounding Warhol. During their countless journeys together, Colacello acquired a Minox camera, rumored to have been used by Cold War spies. This small camera became his constant companion, capturing jet-set parties, dinners, and iconic events at venues like the Factory and Studio 54. « It Just Happened » unveils a selection of Colacello’s personal album, offering an intimate and authentic glimpse into the captivating social circle orbiting the legendary « Pope of Pop. »

Immerse yourself in the captivating world of Bob Colacello’s « It Just Happened, » a visual chronicle that captures the essence of an extraordinary era shaped by the indelible presence of Andy Warhol.

On the occasion of the inauguration, re-discover the interview by Elora Weill Engerer to Bob Colacello for CRASH99 early 2023 :


BOB COLACELLO Well, I guess it was really at the end of 1982, I left Interview right after the new year in 1983, and I only started taking pictures in 1976 when Andy Warhol and I both bought the little Minox cameras, which were the first minia- ture 35 millimeter full frame cameras on the market. And we were in Zurich, and he had a show at the Kunsthaus.

Bruno Bischofberger and Thomas Ammann, who was just starting out with his own gallery, came to see us at Andy’s suite, and they had this little Minox camera and Andy was like, “I want one, I want one.” Andy was showing the por- trait of Willy Brandt there, the chancellor of West Germany. He always carried a Polaroid around until then and they were sold out in Zurich and the next stop was Bonn. We didn’t even go to the hotel, we went right to a camera shop and he and I got one. One of the first pictures I took was of Andy with his Polaroid big shot doing the portrait of Willy Brandt.

But I was the editor of Interview. I wasn’t a photogra- pher. I was helping to sell the commissioned portraits be- cause Andy turned everybody into an art dealer. Taking pho- tos was like my fifth job within the job of working at The Factory. But it was fun, even though I was kind of lazy about it. It was very sort of amateurish. But everything at The Factory started out as amateurish. Andy believed in learning on the job, hiring young people and just letting you do what- ever, you know, figure it out. And it was actually a great method because since we didn’t know what we were doing and we didn’t have any experience, we weren’t stuck in the formula of how to make a magazine or how to make a movie or how to make a philosophy book.

We just did it, as he said, just got to work. And what came out was something different. Nothing was great, but it was different from what everyone else was already doing.


BC Well, it depends. As a writer. Because I’m not currently tak- ing pictures. These are sort of documents of an era, but I’m not thinking, “Oh, this is art photography.” But there’s a cer- tain style that I developed by just accidentally tilting the camera because it looks more like everybody was drunk or using the flash close up. So you get over exposure and every- one looks better.

I liked when a less famous person was blocking half of a famous person because that’s how parties are. They’re like layers of people. That just added, I think, to the documentary quality. And also I was able to get very candid shots because nobody thought of me as a photographer. I was the editor of Andy’s magazine. I was part of the group, the family, what- ever. And so many of the pictures I took, people didn’t even know I was taking their picture. My camera wasn’t the size of his camera and I was always at the parties. So, they weren’t thinking that I was going to take a picture. When Andy took his camera out, people would pose, and so his pho- tographs have a much different quality than mine. I mean, a much different feeling. And Andy took a lot more. Andy was such a workaholic, he went to parties with one pocket filled with extra film, one with extra tape cassettes. And he had this little song and tape recorder and John Richardson, the Picasso biographer, called him “the exterminating recorder”. Now I think it’s a good description. Andy was much a sociol- ogist as he was an artist in a way. He was always trying to figure out what made the world work, what made people work. He was curious. If he could have interviewed every person in the world, he would have, you know, and he was as interested in the elevator man as he was in Diana Ross or Bianca Jagger. He was very democratic in a way.


BC In the art world, everything was smaller. The scale was smaller. The contemporary art world in New York was, let’s say, ten galleries, ten famous artists and ten big collectors, and that was it. And then there were three restaurants that everyone went to. Now it’s a Megalopolis.


BC Well, I’m only putting in photos that are good photographs, that work as photographs. I’m not putting in ten Mick Jagger photos because this is Mick Jagger, I’m putting in the three best and I’m putting in photos of people I wouldn’t even know who they are. But yeah, it was Interview magazine’s style: a beautiful young person who had some energy or some style. You put someone famous on the cover, but then that allowed you to put a lot of new people inside because Andy was very much about discovering people. We were the first to publish Robert Mapplethorpe, Kris Makos, Bruce Weber when they were starting out. We were the first to publish Fran Lebowitz for the “Waterfront Column”, the first to hire Andre Leon Talley as a fashion editor. I was 22 and Andy hired me to be editor. Fred Hughes, who managed his whole art business, was 27. Andy was maybe 47, so he wasn’t exactly old but he was a generation older of the people he had around him as his close collaborators, it was certainly an education after my education.


BC More like a collaborator, I would say, because we were col- laborating on Andy Warhol’s projects, with Andy Warhol’s philosophy, Andy Warhol’s Interview.

When I started, we printed 5000 copies in Chinatown and half the copies had so much ink that you couldn’t even touch them. We had to throw them out because the printer couldn’t understand less ink. So, it was really small. But that’s again how Andy started everything. His first films, he just had a tripod and he put a camera and shot things. And he shot the Empire State Building for 8 hours and a person sleeping for 8 hours.


BC In Interview, we put famous people, less famous people, glamorous people. “Glamor” was the key word. And what is “glamor”? The definition of glamor is a mix of fame, style and artificiality. So, we thought Jack Nicholson was glamor- ous. We thought Warren Beatty was glamorous. We didn’t think Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman were glamorous. And that was partially based on looks. We even had Diana Vreeland, who was 85 at the time, and people said, “You can- not put an old person on the cover of a magazine, it won’t sell.” But she was like a young old person, Diana Vreeland. Yes, it was elitist. I mean, because even a lot of the young people who we were doing the first story on came from fa- mous families, like Carrie Fisher, the daughter of Eddie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds, the daughter of two movie stars. But we were the first to publish her poetry.

There also was someone like Prince, who just started per- forming and he was there in these purple panties. We had him photographed, and next thing we knew, he was getting a recording contract. So, it wasn’t like we only favored chil- dren of the rich and famous, but there was a curiosity about the children of the rich and famous and we did like European aristocracy and royalty. It was glamorous, and in a way, historical.


BC No. I mean, today it is “woke” and we meet these rules of di- versity and equality and inclusion, which I think is just exclu- sion in another form. It puts people in boxes, which we broke out of in the sixties and seventies, and now you have to have a label that makes you a victim of the white male patriarchy. I don’t believe in encouraging people to see themselves as victims. People say, “Well, if Andy were alive, what would he be doing?” And I say, well, he would be dating Kim Kardashian and telling me I have to put her on the cover of Interview. And I would be saying, “Over my dead body, I’m not putting Kim Kardashian on the cover of Interview.” So, you know, that’s the kind of fights we would have because Andy was more democratic than me. I was more of a Republican. I still am, not a Trump Republican, but I’m re- ally a monarchist. I just bought Point de vue with all the cov- erage of King Constantine’s funeral, the Greek King, because I did a story on him in Vanity Fair. I’ve never been a journal- ist who believed in keeping your distance from your subjects.

Vanity Fair and I have always believed in getting as close to the subject as possible. And when you sit down at the typewriter or the computer, then you put the separation. I was at Vanity Fair for 35 years. I wrote probably over 150 pro- files of people ranging from Sao Schlumberger to Balthus. I don’t like to be pinned down as an art reporter or fashion re- porter or a political reporter, I like to jump around. So that’s why Vanity Fair was always good for me.


BC Andy was lonely, even at a party. Andy was an outsider, even with the most in groups in the world. He still was the ob- server, the outsider. Everybody loved Andy or loved Andy in the way you do with social friends, let’s say. But he was al- ways like a child who was trying to figure out what people were about. And if you told Andy, “John is getting married to Jane,” he would say, “Oh, which one has the money?” “No, Andy, they were in love.” “Oh, no, he must be gay and it’s a cover up,” “No, Andy, they are in love.” “You believe in love, Bob?” This would be the kind of conversation we would have. Yes, he was very cynical, but in an almost childish way.

There is a photograph of Andy in his big compound in Montauk, Long Island. It was just very simple houses and it was his birthday in August. We’re all dancing with each other. It was just the factory “kids” (Andy used to call us the “kids” and we called him “pops”). And “pops” is standing at the edge of the photograph, and I tried to get him to come and dance with us. It was sad. We were having a great time on his birthday and he wasn’t. He just didn’t know how to get that close. He had real intimacy issues. He definitely had some of the symptoms of Asperger’s, difficulties communi- cating. He didn’t like to be touched and he was really into repetition. Different sizes, prints, paintings, everything he did, he did multiples and the images themselves were repeti- tion. The earliest paintings were the Campbell’s soup cans hand-painted and the dollar bills. But it was 50 Campbell’s soup cans and 50 dollar bills all in rows. In his early movies, there was no script. It was just repetition. I mean, it was just the same thing for 8 hours.

Andy was so afraid to show his feelings. He was like, “Bob, if I showed my feelings, I’d have a nervous break- down.” And he meant it. That’s how he was. If you were inter- viewing him, he would even have me or Fred Hughes or Brigid Berlin or all of us sitting here. And every time you asked a question, he would say, “Brigid, is that why I painted a man with a green face?” And the journalist would be like, “I’m not here to interview Brigid Berlin, I’m here to inter- view Andy Warhol.” And Andy was the first to understand that bad publicity is good publicity. I think Andy was a ge- nius. And like most geniuses, he used the people around him. He took a lot from other people that fit his vision.

But he also, I think, like a lot of geniuses, was funda- mentally lonely because genius means having your own way of looking at things in your own vision. And it is not about sharing a viewpoint. It’s more about coming up with some- thing that’s very different from everybody else. One of his most used words was “beauty”. “He’s a beauty. She’s a beauty. Oh, we have to have more beauties in the magazine. Oh, Bob, don’t you wish you were a beauty.” And he was al- ways talking about himself, really. He wanted to be a beauty. When he died and I went to his house, the medicine cabinet and the bathroom were full of beauty products, all skin creams. I think he was fundamentally unhappy, but he also believed in “You just do it, you just go on.” So, he wasn’t sit- ting around complaining, but 90% of the time he just made himself so busy.


BC Well, the first thing I learned is: if you want to be successful at some level, at any level, you have to work hard. It’s a cli- ché, as somebody said, you know, success is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. Andy definitely believed in that. And I mean, he set that example. But I learned so much, I learned so much with him. Suddenly, I landed on Mount Olympus and was just observing the way the Rothschilds lived, Mick Jagger’s birthday party, Diana Ross’s birthday party. You know, that was an education.

Andy had no memory. He was really a visual person, an immensely talented visual person. He was not really a verbal person. It was definitely an education working for him. It was also a lot of fun until it stopped being fun when I started feel- ing that Andy was always becoming jealous of me, maybe because I was getting recognition for Interview. His philoso- phy book, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, was basically writ- ten by Pat Hackett and I: we did some chapters and that was 1975. In 1979, we decided to do a book of Andy’s photos with the Minox. But 20% of the photos were mine but we said they were Andy’s because they were all good photos or people he didn’t have.

Bob Colacello
and Fred Hughes, c. 1980.
Gelatin silver print. 12,7x17,8cm(5x7in)
16,6 x 24,3 cm (6,54 x 9,57 in)
(BOC 1037).

Sterling St. Jacques and Pat Cleveland, Halston’s House,
New York, 1976. Gelatin silver print. 20,3x25,4cm(8x10in)
29,2 x 24,3 cm (11,5 x 9,57 in)
(BOC 1070).

James Randall and Marisa Berenson, on theirWedding Day, Beverly Hills, 1976 Vintage
gelatin silver print 20,3x25,4cm(8x10in)29,2x24,3cm (11,5 x 9,57 in) (BOC 1054)

Carmen d’Alessio and Odile Rubirosa, Xenon, New York, 1979. Gelatin silver print.
40,6 x 50,8 cm (15,98 x 20 in) +AP,
Ed. 4 of 20 (BOC 1031.4).

Andy’s Room Service Breakfast, Naples, 1967. Gelatin silver print. 50,8 x 40,6 cm (20 x 15,98 in)
59,7 x 45,1 cm (23,5 x 17,76 in) +1 AP, Ed. 3 of 20 (BOC 1001.3).

Bob Colacello and Fred EW Hughes, Montauk, c. 1977.
Vintage gelatin silver print. 20,3x25,4cm(8x10in) BC 29,2 x 24,3 cm (11,5 x 9,57 in)
(BOC 1081).

Kevin Farley, The Leonori,
New York, c. 1978.
Vintage gelatin silver print.
20,3 x 25,4 cm (7,99 x 10 in)
29,2 x 24,3 cm (11,5 x 9,57 in)
(BOC 1015).

Paloma Picasso, Red Ball,
Paris, 1980. Gelatin silver print. 40,6x50,8cm(16x20in)
59,7 x 45,1 cm (23,5 x 17,76 in)
+AP, Ed. 3 of 20 (BOC 1062.3)

Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall,
and Garech Browne,
Red Ball, Paris, 1980.
Vintage gelatin silver print.
20,3 x 25,4 cm (7,99 x 10 in)
29,2 x 24,3 cm (11,5 x 9,57 in)
(BOC 1025)

Andy’s Room Service Breakfast, Naples, 1967. Gelatin silver print. 50,8 x 40,6 cm (20 x 15,98 in)
59,7 x 45,1 cm (23,5 x 17,76 in) +1 AP, Ed. 3 of 20 (BOC 1001.3).

Robert Rauschenberg, Washington D.C., 1977. Vintage gelatin silver print. 25,4 x 20,3 cm (10 x 7,99 in) 29,2 x 24,3 cm (11,5 x 9,57 in) (BOC 1027).

Jade Jagger, Montauk Airport, c. 1977. Vintage gelatin silver print. 20,3x25,4cm(8x10in)
29,2 x 24,3 cm (11,5 x 9,57 in)
(BOC 1035).

Ringo Starr and Loel
Guinness, MariaNiarchos’ Wedding, Deauville, 1979.
Vintage gelatin silver print.
20,3 x 25,4 cm (7,99 x 10 in)
29,2 x 24,3 cm (11,5 x 9,57 in)
(BOC 1080).

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