From roughly 1955 to 1966, Nathan Gluck (1918-2008) was Andy Warhol’s primary assistant, and in many ways, was as essential to the latter’s art as the man himself. This approximate ten-year period coincided with Warhol’s transition from a commercial artist—one who did illustrations for Blue Note records and the I. Miller Shoe Company—to an era-defining Pop artist. This transition represented both an extension and innovation of the techniques Warhol used to produce his art from his earliest his days, and Gluck played a substantial role in their refinement.
Nathan Gluck was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the son of a real estate businessman and sometimes-housewife-sometimes-secretary mother. He attended a number of art institutions and programs in the NYC area, including the Pratt Institute and Arts Student League, where he studied under Vaclav Vytlacil, a former assistant to influential Abstract Expressionist, Hans Hofmann. During the second World War, Gluck did tours in the Army and Air Force, first at Fort Dix, and then in the South Pacific. Upon returning, he worked as a designer for New Jersey’s L. Bamberger department store and eventually landed at an ad agency, the Rockmore Company. There, he had run-ins with Warhol, who freelanced at the agency. The two clearly had higher ambitions, as evidenced by a group exhibition of commercial artists at Vito Giallo’s Loft Gallery in 1952 including Warhol, Gluck, and Giallo himself. Gluck would later be informed by Giallo, who was Warhol’s first paid assistant, of the latter’s departure, insisting that Warhol was looking for a replacement. Gluck took up the offer and landed under the auspices of Warhol. Soon after, he was helping increase the output of Warhol’s inkblot illustrations, teaching him how to marbleize paper, and possibly, catalyzing him to adopt the silkscreen method that would come to represent his principle method of production.
Apart from the association with Warhol, Gluck was an esteemed artist in his own right, mostly working in the form of collage, but also producing photograms, postcards, and crayon-based works, though usually in small scale. He is fondly remembered for his 30-year tenure as archivist of the American Institute of Graphic Artists. Additionally, he was tapped by the Warhol Foundation to authenticate early, pre-Pop work, considering his incomparable expertise and knowledge.
Nathan Gluck died on September 27, 2008 at the age of 90.