BOOK REVIEW: ‘Becoming Andy Warhol’ by Berutzzi and Bargan

Becoming Andy Warhol
Becoming Andy Warhol Cover
Image from the Publishers Website

When people think of Andy Warhol they think about many things. Soup cans, a studio space, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, music and a million other things. Warhol has become not just a staple of the art world, but also of popular culture in itself. Becoming Andy Warhol states its ambitious goal: “Before Andy Warhol could define an era, he had to define himself.”

We start off in a midpoint of Warhol’s life. Living with family, before his initial fame, struggling to make a living and come to grips with his aspirations. This is told with crisp writing and an art direction that is interesting as it is simple. What works so well with the art in this book is that it is almost entirely in black and white, except for purple featuring. Sometimes this purple is subtle, an underlying current in the background of panels, and other times it is the whole page of a new chapter. Perhaps the artist was trying to capture the simplicity that also existed in Warhol’s work, and if so there goal was noticed.

Something that may make it harder for newcomers and those that are not familiar with Warhol’s life is that this book doesn’t exactly provide context for the reader about Warhol. Instead we are shown his progression, rather than chronicling his life from A-Z this is rather C-G. That doesn’t stop the work being enjoyable however, more as just meaning that it may not be fully appreciated by people unless they are familiar with the artist.

Becoming Andy Warhol is an enjoyable read. The art and writing are well done, and one can imagine that a graphic novel is one of the best ways to fairly portray one of the most important artists the world has seen. While it can certainly make a train journey go faster, or a coffee table look better, it’s not going to join the lexicon of greatest graphic novels. Still, it’s worth your time, just don’t expect it to become as valuable to you as a genuine Warhol print.

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