Debbie Harry Polaroid portrait series by Andy Warhol, 1980
The New York City new wave scene that emerged around the late 1970s has a lot to answer for, a period of time that would trailblaze the alternative music and art scene for years to come, establishing a new outlook on culture.
From one side of that scene, the art world, Andy Warhol was cooking up some of the most unusual creations from inside his infamous factory. On the other side, the music world, Debbie Harry and her Blondie bandmates were rubbing shoulders with the likes of Lou Reed, Patti Smith and more at the CBGB in the East Village.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, these worlds collided with emphatic force on numerous occasions in the years that followed. From becoming the punk centrefold to creating a series of short films, the art and music collaborations during the ’70s and ’80s have become things of legend and, on one day in 1980, Harry and Warhol met up in his factory to create his latest Polaroid portrait series.
“We crossed paths. New York had an active street life – it was a small community back then,” Harry once said when describing how she met Warhol. “You often ran into people. You knew them already or got introduced. I bumped into Andy on Broadway and 13th street and said hello and we chatted about everything.
“I suppose this is how we met and our friendship grew from there. I got invited to the factory and knew others that worked for Andy. I knew Brigid Polk and Andy Coltrain,” she added.
Harry, being the frontwoman of Blondie, became the cover feature of almost all music and fashion publications in the 1980s. However, for Warhol’s work, the singer was stripped back and understated.
Describing the experience of posing for Warhol, Harry once said: “He was the master of understatement. He’d say ‘Try looking over here’. He was very softly spoken and used a funny Polaroid portrait camera.”
She added: “It was an easy environment and not really a pressured situation. He made it very easy. Andy was part of our legacy and our future.”