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September 2, 2023

Iconic Portraits Made by Richard Bernstein for Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine From the 1970s and 1980s

Richard Frederick Bernstein (October 31, 1939 – October 18, 2002) was an American artist associated with pop art and the circle of Andy Warhol. For nearly 20 years he was the cover artist for Interview Magazine.

Warhol became an admirer of Bernstein’s work and propelled him into stardom, much like he did with fellow superstars of the time. The duo not only found common ground through their interchangeable artistic styles – both were known for hyper-colored graphics and dazzling portraits – but they shared similar social habits and a likeminded fascination with celebrity. Consider it no coincidence that Warhol, the arbiter of Pop art, was one of Bernstein’s biggest fans and earliest supporters, once declaring him, “The man who made everyone look famous.”

Upon being inducted into Warhol’s milieu and a fixture within fashion and Studio 54 culture, as well as the Max’s Kansas City scene, the New York-based artist’s career exploded. By 1972, Warhol hired Bernstein as the exclusive hand to create the cover art for Interview Magazine, a position he held until the late 1980s.

For nearly two decades Bernstein’s bold graphic portraits were the first visuals anyone saw in regards to the magazine, which was aptly nicknamed “The Crystal Ball of Pop” in the 1970s. Soon, Bernstein’s lipstick-scrawl banners were the face of Interview, all while becoming as recognizable visuals within popular culture of the time as Warhol’s own work.

Richard Bernstein and Andy Warhol, 1980.

Bernstein’s bold covers helped define the visual identity of the disco era in all of its glory. His shading, collage and airbrush methods turned already iconic subjects into dazzling graphics exuding an air of otherworldly-ness. He injected fantasy and sexuality into otherwise basic photographs; transforming celebrity portraits, often taken by the likes of Herb Ritts and Albert Weston, into hyper-colored, pop icons.

While no artist comes close to rivaling Andy Warhol’s level of impact on the history of art and culture in the past century, Richard Bernstein’s visual wit and transformative style enhanced Warhol’s celebrity, and forever changed the future of publishing and graphic design.

(via Minnie Muse)


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