Friday, June 25, 2010

Random Thoughts On Warhol

“I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They're beautiful. Everybody's plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.” ~Andy Warhol

Today's ArtDaily has a story about a new exhibition opening at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The photo for the story is Andy Warhol's Nine Multicolored Marilyns and it triggered a few thoughts which I will attempt to capture here.

First, Warhol did something he wanted to do. He made a name for himself, and it has lasted more than fifteen minutes. It seems almost weekly that the ArtDaily has a Warhol image at the head of a story about an art opening. Why? Because Warhol's work is so rare? No, quite the contrary. Warhol's work is everywhere.

Warhol became a pop icon by recognizing the power of pop culture, mass media and mass-produced art. No three-year Sistine Chapels for Andy. He set up shop in a place aptly called The Factory and like a factory cranked out Campbell's soup cans and images of Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, and other funky chic.

Was Warhol a great artist? History seems to affirm this, though his real genius seems to have been his marketing. He created products, but in the art world the products have a value based on the value of the creator. And this was Warhol's special gift, painting a portrait of himself as enigmatic as a color field abstract. “I am a deeply superficial person,” he quips.

Interviewer: "It seems like a mistake here. Did you do that on purpose?"
Andy: "Hmmm. That's interesting."

Did Warhol really believe life was a cosmic joke? Or did he simply enjoy playing the game to project as such? “I always thought I'd like my own tombstone to be blank. No epitaph, and no name. Well, actually, I'd like it to say "figment."” Was he serious? That, too, was his schtick, the ambiguity and not knowing whether he meant a thing or was toying with you.

In the end, he left a large imprint on our modern world. He even said some things that have a certain ring of veracity about them, even if you didn't know whether he believed them himself or not. “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art," he said. And this one, which really does make for a good summing up.

"They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself." I agree with this emphatically, whether the canvas we're painting on is the world or our souls.

Just do it.

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