Taylor Mead Bothers to Share Some Wisdom

Published January 12, 2012

ABOVE: ANDY AS THE ODALISQUE, 1994. PHOTO BY CLAYTON PATTERSON

 

“I’m a disciple of Nietzsche—I believe in a minimum of effort and a maximum of error,” explains painter, poet, and Warhol underground film star/longtime lover Taylor Mead. “So I haven’t bothered showing these paintings until now.” The works he is referring to are a series of brightly colored, impressionistic oil paintings of exotic animals, Warholites, and sunlight-filled jungle locales. They were produced very quickly (“I do them in a few hours. I’m very fast when I feel like working,” he quips) and are being shown for the first time since their provenance in the 1980s at Churner and Churner in Chelsea [opens tonight]. Several have survived 20-some years in Mead’s Lower East Side apartment, complete with cockroach infestations and rooftop deterioration. “I haven’t named most of them,” says Mead, “but the biggest one is Xanadu, which is a fancy imagination of a crazy temple with lions and tigers and birds and all kinds of crazy stuff.”

The exhibition will also include a several new drawings based around and accompanying the artist’s “Fairy Tale Poem,” the dryly humorous “Michel Basquiat-esque” illustrated story which first appeared in the 2006 Whitney Biennial, and screenings of Taylor Mead’s Ass and Warhol’s Lonesome Cowboy (1968). “I’ve made nearly 100 movies, and that’s one of the happiest to make,” Mead says of Lonesome, Warhol’s vibrantly chaotic Western tale of five wild cowboys. “We were out in Arizona filming and we each had a separate cabin,” recalls Mead. “And I was the only one who knew what the plot was because I read the script back in New York! When I start talking about Viva’s role and what all the cowboys did, Andy said, ‘Oh, too much plot!’ All he wanted was relationships between the actors. Of course, it’s all one take with Andy. It was very happy. A lot of fun.”

The two films will show on Saturday, Jan. 14. This is Mead’s first exhibition in several years, and he’ll hold a Q & A following tonight’s opening.