WASHINGTON, D.C. — Copies of The National ENQUIRER are now proudly displayed under guard, and under protective glass, at the prestigious National Gallery of Art here in the Nation’s Capital!
It’s a tremendous honor for America’s favorite tabloid publication — and I was thrilled to be invited to see our issues up close when invited by the Gallery to attend their special black-tie dinner in recognition of their newest exhibition featuring the works of the late pop artist ANDY WARHOL.
Warhol –who died in 1987, and is without question America’s all-time Pop Art king — is best known for his famous soup cans and celebrity images.
But in a fascinating never-before-seen exhibit, curator Molly Donovan has pulled together about 80 of his one-of-a-kind creations – including paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures and videos – specifically examining Warhol’s use of news headlines throughout his career.
They’re calling the exhibition, simply, “Warhol: Headlines,” but the big headline here for ENQUIRER readers is that, it turns out, Andy Warhol was a huge fan of The ENQUIRER and used our covers to inspire his fabulous work!
And it was great to see his “ENQUIRERS” on display in the show — about a half dozen of them – amid this incredible grouping of art work, worth countless millions of dollars!
One of the coolest creations in the exhibit is Warhol’s own sketched version of a front page of The ENQUIRER, in which he mimicked our famous tabloid layout and tweaked our headlines!
The ballpoint ink on paper work, created by him in 1958, comes to the exhibit from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. In a takeoff on our name, he mis-spells us as “National ENNGUIRER.”
Some of the funny headlines he wrote: “I Fought an Octopus 100 Feet Under the Sea” and “Plump Women Make the Best Wives.”
Another fascinating work is the result of an ENQUIRER issue from 1961, which is on display. While the cover features entertainer Connie Francis posing in a skintight leopard swimsuit, what Warhol apparently loved on the cover was a front-page headline reading, “Frozen Food Can Kill You!”
Inspired by our headline, a year later Warhol created a pencil and ink on paper work called “Food Kill.” This 1962 creation is also in the exhibit.
And one of the neatest pieces in the show is something Andy did in 1963 – it’s three photo booth strips – gelatin silver prints. Warhol posed his friend, writer Sandra Hochman, in a photo booth, in which she posed 12 times making different facial expressions while holding up a copy of The ENQUIRER with the blaring front-page headline: “KILLER I HIRED STRANGLES MY HUSBAND.”
The issue is from The ENQUIRER’s golden “gore” days – before the paper switched to stories about readers’ favorite TV and movie stars.
The catalogue published with the exhibition points out that Warhol was “obsessed with contemporary news” and “celebrated the sensational as well as the mundane.” It goes on to say that he plucked tabloid “headlines out of the stacks of newspapers and source material that he scoured daily.”
It further says: “In the span of Warhol’s own career, the demarcations between tabloids and mainstream news outlets became blurred, a trend that has accelerated into the present.”
Warhol’s use of The ENQUIRER is cited numerous times in the exhibit catalogue and the book even points out our “credibility” and reminds arts patrons that it was The ENQUIRER “which broke the major national news stories involving John Edwards’s scandals in 2007 and 2008.”
Fans of The ENQUIRER who want to see this great exhibit in person should make a point of going to the National Gallery of Art (www.nga.gov) , where “Headlines” will be on view until January.
And if seeing the Warhol “ENQUIRERS” were not enough at the black-tie dinner on Oct. 5, I had the honor of presenting Warhol fan John Waters, the famed filmmaker from Baltimore, with an original copy of his favorite issue of The ENQUIRER – showing screen icon Sophia Loren falling down to the floor!
The issue, dated July 27, 1999, is headlined “Sophia Collapses!” and features exclusive photos of the Italian superstar taking a tumble at Harrods department store in London.
Waters – whose cult films include “Pink Flamingos,” “Cry-Baby” and the original “Hairspray” – praised the Sophia issue in a New York Times interview, citing it as the best example of “America’s love-hate relationship with celebrity and fame.”
After presenting him with a framed copy at a pre-dinner reception, Waters gushed: “I absolutely LOVE it!”
He declared: “I’ve been a regular subscriber of The ENQUIRER for decades. I read it religiously every single week. When I’m done, I give the issue to my mother!”
As John Waters said that, I’m sure Andy Warhol was looking down and smiling!