What Happened When Andy Warhol First Visited Los Angeles?

Hint: It involved a party for the ages.

Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol is shown posing for close up.
Bettmann Archive

When you think about Andy Warhol and cities, two locations generally come to mind. The first is New York, where he immersed himself in the city’s art world for decades and established his reputation. The other is Pittsburgh, where he grew up and where there’s now a museum named in his honor. But that doesn’t mean that other cities didn’t also loom large for Warhol, both in terms of his life and his work — and Los Angeles certainly fits that bill.

Literary Hub recently published an excerpt from Mark Rozzo’s book Everybody Thought We Were Crazy: Dennis Hopper, Brooke Hayward, and 1960s Los Angeles. The excerpt focuses on Warhol’s arrival in Los Angeles for the second show of his work in LA’s famed Ferus Gallery, which had a significant impact on the direction of mid-century American art.

Warhol was headed west for what would be the second show of his work at the gallery, and Hopper and Hayward — who were married from 1961 to 1969 — decided to throw a party in his honor. This fete took place at 1712 North Crescent Heights, where the residents included the likes of Dean Stockwell, Peter Fonda and Russ Tamblyn. As party attendee lists go, it sure seems like one for the ages.

Based on the recollections of the event that Rozzo collected, the party itself sounds like an excellent time. “Joints were going around,” recalled Warhol himself, who also referred to it as “the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me.” Rozzo also includes a quote from Hopper, who argued that Warhol bore witness to “an environment that actually accepts this kind of new art” on his first trip to California. And the rest, as they say, was (art) history.

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