Seriously, the wealth of batty—pun intended—images from the 1960s never ceases to amaze me. Here we have the foremost pop artist of the era and the foremost German avant garde chanteuse of the era posing as Robin and Batman for Esquire magazine in 1966.
The Batman TV series had taken to the airwaves in the start of 1966. Before the year was out, it would spawn a feature movie. Almost certainly the caped crusader was on everyone’s lips that year; as we all know, the show is simply a supreme example of kid-friendly absurdism that even something like Pee-wee’s Playhouse can’t quite touch. Warhol was interested in Batman as a subject of pop art. In addition to the image above, there was also his 1964 movie Batman Dracula, which is said to be the first camp treatment of Batman.
The photographer who took the pics was Frank Bez. One of the images was used in an interesting little feature called “Remember the Sixties?” It seems likely that this was the introductory page for a series of photographs. The point of the feature was how incredibly much of note had been squeezed into just six years of our nation’s history, which is the exact thing that we all think when we think about that era. The really strange thing is that from our perspective, they were just getting going, the next five years or so would be incredibly active on the cultural front.
By the way, here’s the text. It’s by David Newman and Robert Benton, and it’s very good indeed:
What? Has it really been just six years, or are we all going crazy? It seems like it’s been the Sixties forever. Otherwise why is everybody so exhausted all the time? The Sixties have been so packed with hysteria, so intense and frenetic, so rocking and rolling, so pop and so op, that they have well nigh obliterated all that came before. Of course, one of the reasons for this is that nothing came before.
Nothing was known as the Fifties. It had…uh…Ike, remember? And…uh…J.D. Salinger…and, er…West Coast Jazz…(yawn)...come to think of it (pace Joe McCarthy), nothing happened in the Fifties. That’s why it seems that everything’s happening, baby, in the Sixties. Luminaries come and go faster than a speeding bullet. Fads and fashions flame up and burn out in a week. The last six years have been so filled with people, places and things you have already forgotten about that this seems like a good time to call a halt. We have had enough! Enough!
And so we benevolently announce that the Sixties are over. Let six years be a decade. Let the next four be a vacation.
It’s a very refreshing aspect of Warhol’s personality that he could so easily let Nico be the one in the Batman suit. Warhol was manipulative as all get-out and he certainly was interested in power, but the side of power that required him to be seen as the masculine rule-maker (and therefore Nico’s master) just didn’t interest him in the slightest, and the comfort with which he inhabits Robin’s duds is palpable.
On the Internet they are almost always identified as having been taken in 1967, but they weren’t, they were taken in 1966.