She is remembered for her ‘Tit Prints’ and as the artist Warhol once claimed actually made his art
Brigid Berlin, an ex-debutante who rose to fame as one of Andy Warhol’s Superstars, has died at the age of 80. Her death was confirmed by Vincent Fremont, a longtime friend and executive manager of Warhol’s studio between 1974 and 1987.
Berlin – also known as Brigid Polk, because she liked to administer amphetamine injections, or pokes, to herself and others – was a fixture on the New York underground art scene in the 60s and 70s, best known for her friendship with Warhol, who she met in 1964.
She worked at the Silver Factory – sometimes as a receptionist – but also appearing in several of Warhol’s films, including Imitation of Christ (1967), Women in Revolt (1971), Ciao Manhattan (1972), Bad (1977), and the 1976 documentary Chelsea Girls, where she famously shot shot amphetamines into her backside mid-monologue. Warhol once told TIME magazine that it was in fact Berlin who had made his art as a joke; their value instantly fell, and Warhol retracted the comment immediately.
Still, Berlin was vital in shaping the Waholian canon, most notably through her “Tit Prints”, canvases onto which she stamped her paint-dripped breasts. She also organised The Cock Book, a mammoth three-volume scrapbook of penis drawings by Jasper Johns, Jane Fonda, Larry Rivers, and Leonard Cohen, among others.
She was an early adopter of Polaroid photography, creating self-portraits using double-exposure. “I got into Polaroids even before Andy got into them because of some pictures I saw in Vogue in the early 60s by Marie Cosindas,” Berlin explained in a 2015 Artforum interview.
John Waters, who cast Berlin in two of his films from the 90s, sums her up perfectly in his foreword to her 2015 monograph: “Brigid was always my favourite underground movie star; big, often naked, and ornery as hell... The Polaroids here show just how wide Brigid’s world was; her access was amazing. She was never a groupie, always an insider.”