High culture meets pop culture in the work of Andy Warhol. Repetitive images of the glitterati highlights the influence of mass media and the power of fame to transform someone into a cultural icon.
- Jack of all trades: Born "Andy Warhola" to a Byzantine Catholic family, Warhol started out as commercial artist. In designing ads and store displays, he learned how to package up images and products to make them attractive to a mass audience. In addition to being an artist, he was also a filmmaker, author, and record producer. He even survived an assassination attempt. Closer look: Some self-portraits of Andy Warhol
- Optical illusion: Warhol didn't hand-paint each portrait, but rather used a silkscreen technique. After converting a photo into a silkscreen, he or his assistants would apply layers of paint with a squeegee to transfer the image onto the canvas. This inundates the viewer with manufactured images, similar to the way mass media and advertisements inundate the public. Closer look: Surprisingly, not all images are exactly the same. See how her lips and eyebrows are sometimes misaligned and the faces are different colors. Painting hurriedly sometimes causing these inconsistencies, yet made the works more expressive, more human-made. The blurring made the images feel like a movie reel and hinted at the passing nature of time and fame.
- Entrepreneurial & thought-provoking: Viewers faced consumer culture and questions such as "What is art?" Warhol did portraits of famous people partly because he knew he would get a nice commission. Similarly, he knew buyers were after a brand-name product ("a Warhol"), not necessarily caring how it was made. In The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: "Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art." Some critics called him out on this, but others cynically noted this was an honest reflection of the attitude of the times. Closer look: In 2009, "Eight Elvises" sold for $100 MM.
5 conversation points about Andy Warhol:
- Seeing for yourself: Want more Warhol? If you're in Pittsburgh, check out the Andy Warhol Museum. To see all those Marilyns above, check out the Cleveland Museum of Art.
- Music industry + Warhol: Even 2 decades after his death, Warhol's work seems to have inspired several familiar music videos, song lyrics, and album covers. According to this article, there's Rihanna's latest video "Rude Boy." This article mentions how Warhol's Campbell's Soup prints are in Kanye West's video "Heartless." Jay-Z gives a shout-out to Warhol in his lyrics to "Already Home." Warhol also designed this classic Rolling Stones album cover.
- Photobooth on Mac: You've probably already discovered the theme called "Pop Art" that makes your photos look like Warhols!
- Watchmen: Seems that a portrayal of Warhol makes an appearance in the 2009 movie Watchmen.
- Heist: In 2009, a multimillion-dollar series of portraits by Warhol called "The Athletes" was stolen from a west LA home.
Bonus: Some sweet Andy Warhol/Marilyn Monroe Nike Air Max 90's
If you liked this “weekly dose of culture,” please share this with your friends and invite them to sign up here or the box on the top right. Please contact me at bernadette at artsnap dot org with feedback, thoughts, and any ideas you have to improve!
Thank you for your support!
All images, videos, and articles are linked to their respective sources. Elements of this post were also drawn from the following: