Gregory Battcock (1937 or 1941-1980) Associated Press Wirephoto, 1965


Photo-silkscreen in black enamel or silkscreen ink
over chrome yellow enamel paint, on linen
painted over on the tacking edges,
22 1/4 x 34 1/4

SKU: DFA0274 Category:



This amazing work was given by Battcock to an NYU Anti-Vietnam War auction in 1965, and purchased by a student. We have it directly from that person.

Gregory Battcock (American, 1937–1980) was a New York–based artist who gave up his practice as a painter to become an art critic; he wrote on Minimalism, Conceptual art, video art, and performance, and generally championed artists pushing the boundaries and definitions of contemporary art. His Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology (1968) is considered an important touchstone documenting that movement as it was still forming. He also published decisive essays on art in underground publications like Gay, the New York Review of Sex and Politics, and the New York Free Press. On Christmas day 1980, while on one of his regular vacations to Puerto Rico, Battcock was murdered in his apartment, a crime that remains unsolved.

Battcock attended Michigan State University, receiving his A.B. before graduating from Hunter College (today Hunter College, City University of New York) with an M.A. He also attained a certificate at the Academia de Belli Arti, Rome. He painted as an abstract expressionist and did theater costume designs.

But more importantly he was a close friend of Andy Warhol and starred in several of the artist’s films, including “Batman Dracula,” 1964 and “Horse,” 1965, as well as Gregory Markopoulos’ films “Galaxie,” 1966 and “Iliac Passion,” 1967.  This important document of the Factory in the key year of 1965 was painted there using the same materials and techniques as Warhol.

In 1992, Joseph Grigely was exploring the recently abandoned facilities of a storage company in the same building as his studio when he found Battcock’s archive of manuscripts, photographs, and correspondence strewn throughout the space. After making copies of some of the material, he donated a bulk of the collection to the Archives of American Art. He first exhibited The Gregory Battcock Archive in 2010, and he has revised and expanded it for the 2014 Biennial, including new discoveries : this, Battcock’s only known surviving painting.

Selecting and arranging the archive through a methodology that is both subjective and historically considered, writing explanatory texts, and designing vitrines, Grigely organized the archive into a modular sculpture that is also a form of storytelling. In the end, this work becomes as much about how one constructs a narrative as it is about the narrative itself.He became a special correspondent for Arts Magazine also in 1967.

Battcock’s interest in cinema led him to write articles about other Warhol films such as, “Notes on the Chelsea Girls: A Film by Andy Warhol,” 1967, and “Warhol Film,” 1968. Battcock contributed to the re-definition of what the art world categorizes as art in that many of his anthologies address “new” fields of the aesthetic exploration of media such as film and video. He advocated that video is able to serve purposes other than the commercial, as it can stimulate intellectual and artistic inquiry.

Battcock was appointed associate professor of art history at Fairleigh Dickenson University, Teaneck NJ Campus, advancing to professor of art history, William Paterson College, Wayne, NJ in 1970. He accepted the additional responsibilities of editor of Arts Magazine in 1973. During these years, he wrote and edited books about minimal art, conceptual art, realism, photo-realism, video art, new music and art education, and he had. In these activities Battcock sought to define a “new art.” For example, the anthologies he edited investigated new types of relationships developing between artists, critics, art objects and the art world. Correspondingly, he believed that close and direct contact with artists and their work was necessary in facilitating the creation of new art.

Because of Battcock’s interests in new media and the relationships he developed with artists of his time, scholars today are more closely examining the role of the art critic in the Warhol era. Upon completing his dissertation, Constructivism and Minimal Art: Some Critical, Theoretical and Aesthetic Correlations, he received his Ph.D. from New York University in 1979. By then, Battcock was a significant member of the contemporary American art world. An openly gay man, he lived a lifestyle which the art historian Robert Rosenblum described at “performance theater.”

His papers consisting of biographical information, correspondence, works of art, financial records, photographs, artist files, printed material, datebooks, and manuscripts of published and unpublished writings are in housed in the Archives of American Art, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Alice Neel’s painting, “David Bourden and Gregory Battcock,” 1971, is in the collection of the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas Austin. [contributed by the “Methodologies in the History of Art and Visual Culture” class, University of North Texas, fall 2008, of Prof. Jennifer Way, Julie Barnofski, JC Bigornia, Richard Bond, Twyla Bloxham, Candace Dugger, Andrea Duffie, Jeremy Moore, Krissi Oden, Kristen Wagstrom, Heather White, Betsy Williamson.]