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Art Anecdotes : The Shot that made Her Famous : Solanas & Warhol

Through ART ANECDOTES, Art From Us brings you funny, heart-warming and sometimes heartbreaking stories that shape Artists and their work. Today we look at The Shot that made Her Famous : Solanas & Warhol.

Art From Us and Divvya Nirula bring to you a curated collection of Art related events, from suspected murder, to love affairs, to grand theft and curious cases of creation through ART ANECDOTES. Join us on this fun-filled ride of exploring and reliving these art-tales.

Who was Valerie Solanas?

Andy Warhol – best known for his “Campbell Soup Cans” and “The Factory” where artists and creatives gathered to communicate, share and produce works of art – there was one feminist, an activist whose actions were a touch too far, even for Warhol. Her name was Valerie Solanas.

The Founder and Sole member of the “Society for Cutting Up Men”, Solanas stated in her SCUM Manifesto :

“Life in this society being at best an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and eliminate the male sex.”

Solanas was a playwright as well, and wanted Warhol to produce one of her plays, but he had refused, saying it was so ridiculous that he “suspected Ms. Solanas was working for the police on ‘some kind of entrapment.” To add to her distress, Warhol had also lost the copy of it that she had given him.

The Fateful Day : Solanas & Warhol

On June 3, 1968, frustrated, angry and feeling at a complete loss of control, Solanas went to Warhol’s “Factory” in Manhattan and shot him thrice with a 0.32 revolver.

Rushed to Columbus Hospital through an anonymous 911 tip, he was initially pronounced dead. After over 5 hours of surgery, Warhol then went on to spend two months in the hospital recuperating from surgeries to repair his damaged lungs, esophagus, spleen, liver and stomach. His injuries were so severe that he had to wear a surgical corset for the rest of his life, and developed a deep seated fear for hospitals – convinced he would die if he ever entered one again.

Ironically, Warhol died of a heart-attack a day after a gallstone surgery in 1987, whilst still in hospital.

For Valerie Solanas, that day when she shot Warhol would cement her in art history as a dis-enfranchised woman, a fringe avant garde artist for some, whilst for others, she would be seen as a misunderstood feminist, born before her time. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, we will never truly know what went on in Valerie Solanas’s head that morning in June, when she held a gun and shot her friend – Andy Warhol.

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