|Galaxy 8" Slicer
by Vincent Fremont
28 February 2001
I remember Jay Shriver, Andys art assistant, in the kitchen at Andys studio at 860 Broadway washing some new long and extremely sharp kitchen knives. He was drying one of the knives as he spoke to me. Distracted, Jay sliced his finger. It was a deep wound that would not stop bleeding. Two hospital emergency rooms and 8 stitches later Jay returned to work. The knife, a Galaxy 8 slicer, had been a painting prop only hours before.
Andy decided what kind he wanted to paint in a manner typical for him. He asked Jay to buy some kitchen knives and bring them to the studio. He was living in Andys building at 342 Bowery, near many restaurant supply businesses. Jay brought Andy an assortment of knives and of course, the receipt for them. Andy then took Polaroids of the knives in various combinations and formations. He was also looking around for different types of knives and daggers. We knew our friend Chris Stein (co-founder of the band Blondie) collected knives. It was some of his more exotic and sinister knives that Andy took Polaroids of in many different configurations. After the photography, the editing started. People would assume Andys choice for the paintings would be Chriss group of unusual daggers and handmade knives. Instead he chooses the common object, considered by most of us as nothing special, and elevating it to art. Kitchen knives never looked more interesting or beautiful.
Andy Warhol started paintings of Knives as well as Guns in 1981 and did not complete the series until early 1982. The first time the Knives paintings are exhibited were in May-June 1982, organized by the Castelli-Goodman-Solomon Gallery, in East Hampton, Long Island, NY. This exhibition combined Dollar Sign; Knives, Guns paintings. This group of paintings reflected the dark side of American society in the bright social light of the privileged enclave called the Hamptons.
An influential and socially connected Spanish art dealer named Fernando Vijande came to Andys studio. He arrived with an entourage of young men to document his association with Andy Warhol. Fernando had Rodrigo Vijande and Alfred Nadaff do an interview with Andy Warhol and Bob Colacello, editor of Interview magazine. The interview was published in the Spanish paper El Pais. This is the beginning of the publicity to announce Andys eventual trip to Spain. Fernando also commissioned Andy to paint his portrait, while Fred Hughes, Andys friend and business manager, negotiated terms for an exhibition. The exhibition, entitled, Andy Warhol/Guns Knives Crosses, opened on December 20, 1982 in Madrid, Spain. This was Andys first solo exhibition in Spain. At the time Galeria Vijande was the only large gallery exhibiting contemporary art in post Franco Spain.
Typically in the days before leaving Andys 860 Broadway studio, the Knives paintings were leaned against the walls, in the front room. Andy and Fred would look at the paintings that were stretched by Ronnie Cutrone and Jay. The selection of paintings for the exhibition is made with the dealer. A client would arrive for a portrait sitting and the paintings would have to be moved to one side. Andy needed a blank white wall to take Polaroids of them. There were completed portraits of people, leaning against and on top of the Art Deco brass and marble sideboard. Sitting at the long black Formica table tops resting on file cabinets was Robin Geddes who was answering phones. Brigid Berlin was typing Andys tapes. He liked to see the stack of paper grow next to her. Andy would dump his mail and other papers into a cardboard box we called a time capsule next to my desk. Andy used my office next to the conference room as a drop off point for all his stuff, including shopping bags containing cookie jars and other antiques he was collecting.
After the Knives paintings were completed, Andy gave some of the knives to Jay to use at home. I always remembered those kitchen knives. I would tell people not to put them in the dishwasher because the handles were made of wood. I was telling the story of the knives to Rafael Jablonka. I knew there still must be one of the knives in the Andy Warhol Foundations kitchen. I walked to the kitchen and opened the drawer. In the tray was a Galaxy 8 Slicer from 1981. The handle was bleached almost white from years of being cleaned in the dishwasher. It has now been retired from the kitchen and has become a prop again.