Called “the life of the party” by Vanity Fair, London-based Nicky Haslam has always dazzled us not only with his professional accomplishments but his capacity for storytelling – oh, the STORIES! – revealing a life infused with passion, intellect, humour, and above all, a sense of adventure. While forging his reputation as one of the world’s most sought-after interior designers – not to mention his accolades as an artist, editor and memoirist – this “man who knows everyone” has built friendships with some of the leading cultural icons of our time, including Andy himself. On the occasion of Christie’s new partnership with the Warhol Foundation, Haslam recalls dinners at Andy’s mother’s home and one particularly memorable afternoon stroll when the two men happened upon a couple of nuns shovelling snow…
When did you first meet Andy Warhol?
In the Shoes department at the American Vogue offices in 1962.
How was it for you?
I remember Andy smiling shyly under his then-blondish fringe.
Could you describe Andy Warhol’s scene for us?
The first Factory was a very hand-made affair with walls and pipes and cabinets roughly covered in silver foil. On the other hand, his mother’s house where we went for dinner was extremely neat and bourgeois.
Was everyone aware of what Andy Warhol would/had become at the time?
Absolutely not. We all thought his work was crazy and flash-in-the-pan….until the first Castelli show, that is.
How would you describe Andy’s achievement?
Quite simply, he revolutionised art. Not so much by the actual art itself, but by how people perceive art since.
How was it working with Andy Warhol?
I only did one film for him, and as he merely let the camera roll while he smoked and talked, it was the “actors” who did the work.
What does Andy Warhol mean to you?
I find his writing, whoever did it, is almost as fascinating as his art, whoever did that. But the early films were his own, genius, creations.
How did Andy influence you?
Well, he writes in the diaries that “Nicky Haslam took me to Park Avenue and made me smart”, so I think I probably influenced HIM.
If you could have one piece by Andy Warhol what would it be?
An early ‘Flower Series’ he gave me, signed, which I sold for tuppence when I was broke.
What’s the most typically Warholian meal you can think of?
Frozen custard from a café on 8th St.
What’s the most Warholian quip/anecdote you heard from him?
One day after lunch we saw some nuns shovelling snow on the sidewalk. They were furious when Andy photographed them. He mumbled “Gee, if I were a nun I’d LOVE to be photographed”.
What’s your dream Warhol scenario?
“Dream” is kind of an inappropriate word for Andy. He was one of the most totally organised, practical, and astute beings I ever knew.
What do you think is his legacy?
That he removed the ‘kitsch’ from kitsch.
What do you think is his future?
Do great makers of revolutionary ‘art’ need a future? He made many other people’s futures is more to the point. His past is HIS future.
Soup can or Coke bottle?
I have a Soup can drawing Andy did for me on the title page of A to B and Back Again, so Campbell’s it has to be. And at least I KNOW it’s original.