This is a lavishly illustrated large format book (11"x11") by one time Warhol associate David Bourdon. It tells the oft told story of how a sickly boy from a poor immigrant family became one of the most famous artists of the twentieth century, who's images of the famous and the mundane still influence art, design fashion and advertising today. Even though the book is over 400 pages long with the author obviously interviewing many of the artist friends and family, Bourdon does not really document Warhol's life in any great detail. If that is what you are looking for, I suggest Victor Bockris excellent detailed biography "Warhol". Having said that, the author does cover all the main events of Warhol's life in a gossipy easy to read style (one which Warhol himself might have enjoyed). The books main attraction is the amount of full page colour illustrations of the artists work. Probably around two thirds of the books 432 pages are given over to this, beginning with Warhol's first drawings at Pittsburgh Art College up to his last series The Last Supper. Bourdon argues a convincing case for Warhol's importance as an artist and how more than several of the artist's concepts (I hesitate to call them theories) on the nature of celebrity and the business of art have entered the public conscience. I doubt we would have had Basquiat, Emin and Hirst without Warhol. The book shows how Warhol was and still is the perfect mirror for his age. From the Campbell soup tins, underground films, the drugs and sex filled Factory or the fame obsessed, celebrity portraits of the 70's. If you are after an indepth biography of Andy Warhol I suggest that you try Bockris instead. However, if you are after a beautifully illustrated volume of Warhol's work and a good introduction to his life and work I strongly recommend this book.
If you only want one book about Warhol, this seems a great choice. If you want many books about Warhol, you may find after reading them all that this is the one you'll rely on.
If you plan on becoming a great artist, plan on developing a great friendship with someone like Bourdon.
I've read other very good books about Warhol, including Bockris' "Warhol: The Biography", "Prince of Pop", "POPism" and "365 Takes", but remained quite puzzled about Warhol. Bourdon doesn't remove all the mystery, but he does reduce it considerably.
Besides being an excellent writer and so knowledgable about art, he was a close friend of Warhol's for more than 25 years. He's packed the book both with details and astute assessments. There's a lot of the movies in here, both about their contents and about why they made an impact. Many prints and people are pictured. He's provided contexts within the worlds of painting, of moviemaking, and of the culture at large rather than just describe what Warhol did. Although a friend, he's not afraid to note Warhol's failings, including his stinginess in paying assistants and the coldness he could exhibit to former friends. Warhol's sad (to me) descent into hanging out with celebrities after the 60's is also well-covered.
Why would people hang out at the dumpy Silver Factory? Perhaps for a chance to get into his movies, perhaps to be invited to a group dinner that night, perhaps because they were wanted no where else, perhaps to score. What really happened to Edie Sedgwick? A book focused on her might tell you, but Bourdon manages to tell enough that you can realize the full tragedy.
This is the closest I've gotten to what made Warhol and his associates tick. It won't stop me from reading more about Warhol, but Bourdon has helped me make a big step in my understanding of Warhol. It's an exceptional book and hence seems a great value.