Kantor Gallery is pleased to present ‘Superstars’, paintings and works on paper by Louis Waldon.
Waldon, born on Dec. 16, 1934, in Modesto, Calif., starred in a number of Warhol films, including Flesh, Lonesome Cowboys, Blue Movie, San Diego Surf, Bike Boy and Nude Restaurant. After working with Warhol, Waldon relocated to Europe for sometime, before moving back to California. He went on to appear in a number of more commercial films, including 1985 Cher weepie, Mask. Louis lived on a houseboat in Marina Del Rey up until his death in 2013.
Many former Superstars contend that Warhol did not compensate them adequately. Waldon found a way to profit from his association with Warhol by making and selling silk screens of Warhol’s classic images.
“They look better. Andy didn’t really know what he was doing. You can’t tell the difference’
‘The Secret City’, The Los Angeles Times, 2002
‘For Waldon, it’s been a mixed bag. He doesn’t seem to feel as abused and exploited by Warhol as Viva does. He’s found a way to make the most of his Warhol days. He seems settled and content these days, living in the Marina on a houseboat. Known for his roles in “Blue Movie,” “Lonesome Cowboy” and “Nude Restaurant,” Waldon joined the Factory in the early ‘60s and really hasn’t left. He makes a living reprising Warhol’s most famous and popular images, selling silk-screen portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Liz, Jackie O., Elvis and the Electric Chair. And he’s been doing it since 1979.
Poe feels somewhat responsible for the first Waldon/Warhol knockoff. Poe found himself in Waldon’s West Hollywood basement apartment, and “during that night, Louis was talking about Warhol and pulled out the screens.” (These would be the original screens Warhol inked to produce his silk-screen images.) “It was the Electric Chair silk screen. I said, ‘Louis, what are you doing with this?’ He said, ‘I dunno, I’ve carried it around for years, I don’t know what to do with it.’ [I said,] Well, I’ll pay you right now to make me an Electric Chair. And he did. And I sold four more for him, and he’s been making them since.”
The original Electric Chair screen eventually disintegrated, but Waldon went through the same process Warhol did, obtaining the press photos, photographing them and making silk screens out of them. It’s all perfectly legal–he doesn’t claim his prints are anything they’re not–and probably the most ironic homage to his mentor. It’s hard to say if Warhol would have been proud, but he was living when Waldon started, and Waldon says he was aware.
Waldon knows he’s cashing in, but he feels it’s in the true spirit of Andy. After all, which Marilyn would you rather have–one with a “Louie Waldon Factory Superstar” stamp or one with a “Made in Japan” stamp? Waldon rationalizes his art. “I’ll tell you one thing, if you could make any money on your own with Andy, he never said a word. He was totally helpful that way. If you wanna do something and you were going to make some money, he certainly wouldn’t stand in your way.”
‘Via Warhol, Lingering Fame–but No Lasting Fortune’, The Los Angeles Time, 2012