"Cover Designed and Painted by Richard Bernstein" was written on the masthead of almost every issue of Andy Warhol's Interview from 1972 to 1989. Many people assumed that Interview's distinctive covers were painted by Andy Warhol himself. Andy thought that Richard Bernstein could do it better and was quoted as saying that Richard Bernstein was "his favorite artist." Bernstein designed and painted 189 covers during his seventeen years with Interview. His images helped to define the new uptown/downtown celebrity culture that characterized this dynamic period in New York's history.
Coinciding with the release of Richard Bernstein Starmaker by Roger and Mauricio Padilha, published by Rizzoli, Jeffrey Deitch is presenting a retrospective of Richard Bernstein's work. The exhibition will feature sixty-nine original cover paintings for Interview and a selection of Bernstein's lesser-known early and later works. The last time a large group of Bernstein's Interview cover paintings were shown together was at Parson's School of Design Art Gallery in 1993-94.
Richard Bernstein was born in New York in 1939. He received a B.F.A. from Pratt Institute, where he studied with Richard Lindner, and a M.F.A. from Columbia. He began his international career exhibiting at the Iris Clert gallery in Paris in 1966. His rediscovered work of the 1960s, especially his pill and jewel paintings, are a significant addition to the history of Pop Art.
Bernstein moved into the ground floor ballroom of the Chelsea Hotel in the early '60s and lived there until his death in 2002. With his dynamic personality, movie star looks, and exceptional talent, Bernstein was at the center of the social life that revolved around the Warhol Factory and Studio 54. After his tenure at Interview, he remained active as an art director in the fashion and music industries while continuing to make his own art.
All of the work in the exhibition comes from the artist's family. Most of it has been untouched and unseen since it was removed from the Chelsea Hotel Ballroom sixteen years ago. There are some remarkable revelations such as a his spin paintings of 1991 with images of Mick Jagger and an upside-down Madonna. Other rediscovered works include naked portraits of Candy Darling and the Beatles.
Bernstein used a combination of airbrush, pencil, Wite-Out, and collage to construct his Interview covers. They achieved their polished effect through the printing process, but his rougher preparatory paintings have a deeper impact. Many of the photographs on which the paintings are based were taken by Bernstein himself. Other subjects were photographed by his friends Bill King and Berry Berenson, but Bernstein was always on set and directed the styling.
Richard Bernstein Fame is the second collaboration between the Padilha Brothers and Jeffrey Deitch. Deitch's Stephen Sprouse exhibition at his gallery and at the Hong Kong Art Museum in 2009 coincided with the release of Padilhas' Rizzoli book on Sprouse.