By Phil Tarley

Warhol Flag

© Karen Bystedt

Karen Bystedt shot Andy Warhol thirty years ago. She was a young film student at NYU when Bystedt spotted Andy posing in a Barney’s Clothing ad and wanted to include him in a book of models she was photographing at the time.

The artist-photographer went on to shoot some of Hollywood’s most iconic movie stars. She travelled all over the world and somehow the peripatetic Bystedt lost the Warhol film. Last year she found them while cleaning out a garage in the San Fernando Valley and a wonderful pent up creative energy was unleashed. She debuted her Warhol large format prints at Photo LA and then her images headlined a show at the Robert Berman Gallery in Bergamot Station. She sought out artists like Peter Tunney, Speedy Graphito, and Gregory Siff who painted on her photographs.

“I see my photographs as a canvas, from which different artists can do their own interpretations on my images and create a synergy of incredible art—with each artist reinventing Andy and presenting him to a different audience.”

Faces - Gregory Siff Collaboration

Mixed Media Collaboration With Artist Gregory Siff

Bystedt has morphed her fascination with Andy Warhol and taken her photographs into wild new territories with a score of art projects. “I like to think that Andy would be pleased,” the tall, purposeful and pop-focused Bystedt told me. “Together with some of my favorite artists we’ve re-popified him—reinterpreting and reinvigorating Warhol for the current zeitgeist.”

Last July, on a hot summer day in a Venice beach café, Bystedt bumped into David Booth Gardner who was launching a digital fine art company, called Likuid and they had a magic moment. “When David told me what he was up to, I was inspired by the idea of having talented video and graphic artists animate my images to create moving art. I wanted to videoize my Andy Warhol photographs. I kept thinking about David’s concept and together with Likuid partner, multi-media artist, Bill Barminski, we gave Andy new life. Animating him, in a way, has reanimated him.”

Then Bystedt pulled her sister, director Varda Hardy into the act and they conceived a video called, Disco Andy. So far Karen’s made the three ANDY WARHOL reanimations and more are on the way, including one where Andy watches himself eating a hamburger on TV.

To explore Karen Bystedt’s work in depth, please visit her website:


Phil Tarley is a Fellow of The American Film Institute and an artist member of the Los Angeles Art Association. As an art and pop culture critic: he regularly posts stories on The WOW Report; he writes about contemporary art and photography for Fabrik Magazine and files stories for Art Week LA. Tarley is currently working on a book of narrative non-fiction travel stories and on a variety of photographic art and curatorial projects. To contact Phil Tarley:

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