On September 24, 1963, Andy Warhol left New York for a road trip to Hollywood in a black Ford Falcon station wagon. His companions were his assistant and up-and-coming poet Gerard Malanga, antic underground film “superstar” Taylor Mead and Wynn Chamberlain, who owned the car. In Deborah Davis’ impressive recounting of this adventure, The Trip, Warhol’s experiences mark the turning point in his life between “Raggedy Andy” Warhola, a small-town kid from Pittsburgh, and Andy Warhol, filmmaker and pop art impresario.
Davis’ copious research into the flotsam and jetsam of 1963 establishes the mood: She shows us the billboards lining Route 66, takes us into the motels and truck stops and listens to the pop songs on the radio. These details do more than evoke the period; they also show how Warhol’s iconic “multiples”—like his Campbell’s soup cans—emerge from the mass culture of the 1960s.
Once in Los Angeles, the ragtag adventurers get busy. Warhol has a first art show at the Ferus Gallery; Dennis and Brooke Hopper throw Andy a “real Hollywood party”; Warhol meets his idol Marcel Duchamp; and Warhol and crew shoot a movie called Tarzan and Jane Regained . . . Sort Of, with the impish Mead as Tarzan and Dennis Hopper as his body double. Davis argues that this trip to Hollywood gives birth to the Warhol of the later ’60s, the artist whose silver Factory and entourage of underground divas we remember today.
A good introduction to Warhol for pop art neophytes, The Trip will also appeal to readers eager to learn more about the “Mad Men”–era collision between art and advertising.