Andy Warhol Andrew Rossi
The Andy Warhol Diaries. Andy Warhol in The Andy Warhol Diaries. Cr. Netflix © 2022

The Andy Warhol Diaries director Andrew Rossi wanted to show the little-known romantic side of the famous pop artist in his new Netflix docuseries, which he’s been working to bring to life since 2011.

It’s an aspect of Warhol that was largely mysterious prior to the publication of a selection of his personal diaries by his longtime friend and collaborator, Pat Hackett, in 1989 — two years after Warhol’s death. The Netflix doc uses an AI voice generator to mimic Warhol’s voice, allowing him to narrate his own diaries with the blessing of the Andy Warhol Foundation.

“I think that particularly in Andy’s case, you see a queer point of view on the world that certainly stems from his romantic desire that can’t fit into a heteronormative world,” Rossi told MovieMaker. “There’s this sense that he’s always trying to fit in. And even his domestic partnership with Jed Johnson in the ’70s was really, as it’s described by Alan Wanzenberg, bizarre. It didn’t have any role models within the culture.”

Part of the reason Rossi wanted to delve so deeply into Warhol’s romantic life is to show how it influenced his art, and how it impacted his life as a human, not just a public figure.

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“The disruption that resulted in his relationship, the sort of emotional violence that takes place — Jed actually ends up trying to take his own life twice because of his emotional feelings — inspires Andy to then make artwork like the Sex Parts Polaroids and the Shadows paintings, that are in some ways a search for meaning; a way to work out his feelings,” Rossi said. “So you see that his love life has a real impact on the images he makes. When they’re as explicit as, you know, the sex acts and penises and other stuff you see in the Sex Parts Polaroids — or as abstract and kind of hidden as the shadow paintings are, which in some ways look like a field of color.”

Andrew Rossi was also inspired to tell Warhol’s story because of how much he looked up to the artist when he was a kid.

“When I was growing up as a bisexual man, I found Andy to be a safe space, a hero. It was a very sort of homophobic world that I grew up in, and I used to go to galleries with my dad and loved his work. I watched Andy Warhol’s TV on public access cable, and seeing Andy and his courage to be himself gave me a sense of permission to try and be myself as well,” he said.

“I hope that people see that Andy was a living, breathing gay man who created art which is not just a one-dimensional commentary on consumer culture,” he added. “It was actually very deeply layered and contains a lot of… insight into how we can reinvent ourselves and search for new meaning. I hope that they see he’s not just a robot.”

The Andy Warhol Diaries, executive produced by Ryan Murphy and directed by Andrew Rossi, is now streaming on Netflix.

Main Image: Andy Warhol in The Andy Warhol Diaries courtesy of Netflix.