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The photographer David McCabe with Andy Warhol, seated, and his associates Edie Sedgwick, Chuck Wein (on the floor) and Gerard Malanga. Warhol hired Mr. McCabe in 1964 to document his life for a year | Image Source Internet

Remembering David McCabe

The photographer who documented “A Year in the Life of Andy Warhol

British fashion photographer David McCabe died last month. Although his photographs published in in the Life, Harper’s Bazaar, W, French Elle, French Vogue, and The Times had brought him fame, he is much remembered for his photographs of Andy Warhol becoming Warhol. When Mr. McCabe arrived in New York in 1960, he was a 20-year-old art school graduate fresh from England. He got a room at the Y.M.C.A., began working as a photo assistant, and started shooting fashion editorials for magazines like Glamour and Mademoiselle. Four years later, Warhol noticed Mr. McCabe’s work and asked to meet him at the Factory, his silver-foil-lined studio on East 47th Street, for a job interview of sorts. Warhol wanted to hire a personal photographer to document his cavorting at parties and gallery openings around town. He wanted, in other words, someone to document him engaging in the performance of being Andy Warhol. McCabe was hired and for the whole of 1964, he followed Warhol.

1 & 2 – The Andy Warhol Circle | 3 Fashion photography for High-Low Vintage | 4 Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali © David McCabe | Image Source Internet Image Source Internet

“I didn’t even know who Andy Warhol was… At that time he had a certain notoriety in Manhattan, but he wasn’t famous in the way he would later become. All that changed in the year I spent photographing him.”

– David McCabe, Interview by the website The Arts Desk, 2011

Throughout 1964, the two would typically meet at five in the afternoon, before heading out and speaking infrequently to one another for the rest of the night. Warhol’s only request was that McCabe not utilize a flash, since he did not want it to be apparent that he had a personal photographer. McCabe ultimately captured Warhol in various settings, such as at parties and gallery openings. One noted photograph was of Warhol and Salvador Dalí sharing a glass of wine. During Andy Warhol’s factory years Dalí beckoned the pop artist into his suite at New York’s St. Regis Hotel (always room 1610) with a theatrical swirl of his cane. Opera was playing at a deafening volume, Warhol was so nervous he was “guzzling back wine,” said David McCabe. Salvador grabbed an Inca headdress and placed it on Warhol’s head. The pair were there for five uncomfortable minutes before Warhol turned to McCabe and said “David, we gotta go.”

McCabe was also able to document some of Warhol’s private moments that unmasked his inner life. The 400 duotone photos were published in 2003 as A Year in the Life of Andy Warhol. Many of them had never before been revealed to the public. This is because neither Warhol nor McCabe did anything with the photographs after they were developed. They remained in a drawer at McCabe’s studio until around 2000, when The Andy Warhol Museum contacted him after learning about the pictures and the book was published.

David McCabe died on Feb. 26 at a hospital in Albany, N.Y. He was 80.

By Tulsi Swarna Lakshmi | Published on March 30, 2021

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