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- Posted on Oct 14th 2009 5:10PM by Charley Rogulewski
While his work capturing Factory regulars like Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick, poet/filmmaker Gerard Malanga and snapping the first Velvet Underground jam sessions would make him famous, Finkelstein lived quite the adventurous lifestyle outside of Warhol's art commune. The Brooklyn native picked up photography in college but was expelled for throwing a file cabinet out of a building because he was unhappy with the school publication's censorship. Finkelstein started professionally in fashion photography under the wing of Harper Bazaar's renowned art director Alexey Brodovitch and later transitioned into photojournalism, covering civil rights protests and emerging subcultures, the latter interest leading him through the doors of Warhol's infamous New York City studio on assignment.
Finkelstein first met Warhol at a Factory party in 1964. Warhol was already aware of the photographer after viewing his work in a 1962 Pageant magazine issue, in which Finkelstein profiled a Greenwich Village art happening by sculptor Claes Oldenburg. Finkelstein offered his photography services to Warhol for the next three years and took iconic photos capturing Bob Dylan's 1966 visit to the Factory where Warhol presented him with one of his Elvis 'Flaming Star' silk-screen portraits.
Finkelstein's politically radical ways, including involvement with the Black Panthers, eventually led to a federal warrant for his arrest. He retired from photography and retreated to Asia, traveling the Silk Road through the Middle East. Charges were dropped in 1982 and, no longer a fugitive, Finkelstein found his way back to New York City and photography, with some trips here and there to Bolivia to fuel his cocaine habit.
His photos are immortalized in the photography books 'The Andy Warhol Index' (with Warhol, 1968), 'Andy Warhol: The Factory Years, 1964-1967' (1989), 'Andy Warhol: A Portfolio' (1990); 'Girlfriends' (1991), 'Merry Monsters' (1993), 'Andy Warhol: The Factory Years' (2000) and 'Edie Factory Girl' (2006). He was finishing a memoir, 'The Fourteen-Ounce Pound' before his death.
Finkelstein, married five times, is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and brother, Howard.