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"Gift of Gretchen Berg: The True Story of “My True Story,” and The Troublemakers"
2007-04-21 until 2007-08-05
the Warhol
Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Gift of Gretchen Berg: The True Story of “My True Story,” and The Troublemakers present two aspects of the work of New York photographer and journalist, Gretchen Berg, and will be on view from April 21 through August 5, 2007. The True Story of “My True Story” documents Berg’s interview with Andy Warhol in 1966, which was published under the title “Andy Warhol, My True Story.” This interview is widely regarded as Warhol’s best, filled with many of his famous and perceptive quotes. The exhibition reveals for the first time that these words aren’t Warhol’s, but rather those of Berg, who carefully edited the conversation to make it appear as though she was eliminating her own voice. The exhibition showcases Berg’s photographs, original recordings, a vintage photocopy of the typescript, and five publication sources of the interview. The majority of these objects were recently acquired by The Andy Warhol Museum, some of which were gifts from the artist.

“I’d prefer to remain a mystery, I never like to give my background and, anyway, I make it all up different every time I’m asked.”

Listening to the audio version of Berg’s interview with Warhol offers a much different experience than that of reading the typescript. While the typescript portrays Warhol as garrulous and unmasked, the audio reveals a much more reserved and humble Warhol. Such a contradiction lends evidence that Berg supplemented what little Warhol offered to create an entire article composed of famous quotations and surprising revelations.

Berg’s interview sheds light on Andy’s personality and attitude, regardless of how few words he may have spoken. Warhol contradicts previously held beliefs, seeing himself as a “pure artist” rather than the social critic many thought him to be. He rejects the “exhibitionist” label that articles make him out to be, expresses dislike for objects, and denies representing the sex symbols of his time. “I just see Monroe as just another person…” Although many look to his work for meaning, Warhol does not intend to educate people through his paintings. Finally, Warhol reveals that his dream was not to be an artist, but rather a tap-dancer.

“I don’t feel I’m representing the main sex symbols of our time in some of my pictures, such as Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor, I just see Monroe as just another person. As for whether it’s symbolical to paint Monroe in such violent colors: it’s beauty, and she’s beautiful and if something’s beautiful, it’s pretty colors, that’s all.”

“If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface: of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.”

Troublemakers presents Berg’s portrait photographs of children and teenagers protesting in New York between 1967-1975. These images portray the diverse emotions of protesters, some of whom appear to be idealists while others are simply having fun. Protests against racism and the Vietnam War became common in April 1968, at which time students began to march not only for these causes, but also in opposition to high school curricula and dress codes. Supplementing these photographs are vintage armbands, American flags, journalism reporting on the Vietnam War, and other related ephemera.

Troublemakers introduces a new perspective on protest, for the children and teenagers portrayed in Berg’s photos are neither aggressive nor demonized, but calm and resolute. They act upon their beliefs in a non-violent manner, expressing awareness of and disdain for racism and the Vietnam War. Utilizing a Nikon F2 and Rolleiflex, Berg captures the emotion of the crowd: excitement, tranquility, awe, laughter, fear, anger, and sorrow. A girl splatters red makeup on her face to simulate blood, and throws herself in front of a group of students. A young boy is photographed at a candlelight vigil, wearing a button that reads, “Give Peace a Chance,” and students carry signs calling for people not to pay the taxes that go to continue the War.

A native New Yorker, Berg was born into a family of film and photography, introduced to the ideas of word and image at a young age. Her father, Herman G. Weinberg, was a filmmaker and subtitler of classic films, and a friend of Charlie Chaplin, Erich von Stroheim, Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles, Jean Renoir, Fritz Lang, and Louise Brooks. Berg’s uncle, Eric Arthur, wrote for “The Shadow” radio serial, while her uncle, Max Weinberg, was well known in the Hollywood movie industry. The True Story of “My True Story,” and Troublemakers is Berg’s first solo museum exhibition, as well as The Warhol Museum’s first exhibition to reveal Warhol in a live interview.

Andy Warhol, photo by Gretchen Berg

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