Life & Culture

Artist Philippe Morillon Remembers His Friend and Subject Andy Warhol

In Andy by Philippe, which recently launched at Saint Laurent Rive Droite in Paris, photographer and illustrator Philippe Morillon pays tribute to his late friend Andy Warhol

“We met when I was 26 years old, I was living with a friend who had lived in New York and hung out at the Factory,” recalls the photographer, illustrator and painter Philippe Morillon of how he met Andy Warhol. “The friend, from a wealthy banking family, had been sent for an internship at the bank’s New York office [but] ended up spending most of his time in gay nightclubs. We met Andy at the opening of his Faucilles et Marteaux show at Galerie Templon in Paris, in 1976.” Morillon and Warhol would go on to become friends, with Morillon photographing the late artist and contributing glamorous, now-iconic graphics to Interview magazine in the 1970s and 80s. Morillon’s new publication, Andy by Philippe, is a tribute to his friend.

Andy by Philippe, which was recently launched at Saint Laurent’s Rive Droite store on Paris’ rue Saint-Honoré, is a collection of 20 pastiches, or “silkscreen fictions”, created in the style of Warhol. “They are serigraph images, similar technically to his work,” Morillon explains. “Paintings he could have done but didn’t. The subjects and colours are imitated from his style, and all could have been painted by Andy himself.” Over the course of their friendship, Morillon – whose previous publications include Daydreaming Nightclubbing, Ultra Lux, 80’, and Paris Nights 1970–1980 – photographed Warhol regularly, and his shots have become some of the most recognised of the Pop artist. “He used to like to pose for photos with this absent and empty look, like he wasn’t there. You had to surprise him, at a dinner or drinks, to catch an animated and lively picture of him.”

Morillon found himself drawn to the novelty of Warhol and his work when they met. “The Pop Art from that time showcased a particularly disillusioned vision of the industrial world, it was at the same time a critic of consumer society and an apology,” he says. “The fact that Andy choose to do portraits of ordinary objects like the Brillo laundry detergent boxes, following the American Abstract Expressionism movement, felt like a refreshing proposition to me.”

Alongside the book launch at Saint Laurent Rive Droite, a selection of Morillon’s photographs of Paris in the 1980s are on display in store. “[Andy and I] would go out together a lot, attending social happenings, dinners, previews and club nights and record it all for Interview, for which I took the photos. It was a very entertaining life,” Morillon remembers. People like Yves Saint Laurent and Betty Catroux appear in the spirited black and white shots.

As well as drawing parallels between himself and Warhol – like making his cat the subject of a pastiche in Andy by Philippe (“In the 50s, Andy did many cat drawings as well as serigraphs of his Siamese cat in 1972; as an homage, I have done several portraits of my cat Ozu, who is magnificent”) – it’s Warhol’s playful and inventive spirit that Morillon intends to capture in the book. “There is no timely reason for this book, just the pleasure of doing it. I have always loved working with pastiche, I had used this style back in the days for ad campaigns. Andy had found them very funny and signed them!” he says. “The pasticheur is not a cheater but a player. Andy was very playful, a real kid hidden behind his impassive look.”

Find Andy by Philippe at Saint Laurent Rive Droite, Paris.