OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — Once referred to as Andy Warhol’s “most important associate” by the New York Times, Gerard Malanga spent several years of his early adult life working with the famously controversial artist, first on his silkscreens then making films, including his famous three-minute silent Screen Tests. He also co-founded Interview magazine in 1969.
Indeed, Malanga was much more than an assistant. His stamp is all over Warhol's work: he even suggested superimposing images on top of one another in the artist's screen prints, resulting in pieces like Double Elvis, a 1963 canvas depicting Elvis Presley as a gunslinger, which has been valued at more than $50 million.
“Where’s my cut?” he joked on stage at BoF VOICES during his conversation with Dazed Media Co-Founder Jefferson Hack. But Malanga’s cultural contribution is nothing to laugh about and Hack cited Malanga as one of the major influences of his own life.
“You have really contributed a staggering amount of culture,” Hack told the 76-year-old artist, whose varied body of work includes serving as a choreographer for the Warhol-adjacent rock band The Velvet Underground to years of poetry and, more recently, the memoir In Remembrance of Things Past.
These brief, if dazzling, moments serve as voyeuristic fodder for the audience.
Malanga, who was raised in the 1950s-era Bronx, spoke of the silver factory — where he and Warhol listened to opera while making screen prints — and the death of Californian factory kid and “Poor Little Rich Girl” star Edie Sedgwick, which he described as a "significant moment." He also recalled discovering and casting Loulou de la Falaise, who would go on to be Yves Saint Laurent’s lifelong collaborator and muse. “Her stars were already there for her,” he said.
Individually, these brief, if dazzling, moments serve as voyeuristic fodder for the audience, like a depiction of Bob Dylan strapping one of Warhol’s works to his Volkswagen — "like a deer" — after a visit to the factory. But collectively, they tell the story of a man whose life has been sardine-packed with creative endeavours. (Malanga once allowed himself five-and-a-half months to read the complete works of Proust.)
It’s no wonder, then, that a culture-pusher like Hack would connect so deeply with Malanga, whose body of work continues to expand. At the end of their discussion, Malanga read a poem he recently wrote about a well-recognised portrait of a 20-year-old Virginia Woolf. He said it took him a day to “come down” from the adrenaline generated by creating it.
The secret to a life well-lived, Malanga said, is “curiosity.”
To learn more about VOICES, BoF's annual gathering for big thinkers, visit our VOICES website, where you can find all the details on our invitation-only global gathering.