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TheWit andWisdom of ANDY WARHOL Paul Hamilton covers himself in tin-foil screaming, “whip me bitch!”
¶ America has always been utterly bereft of artists—people who can actually paint and draw and sculpt—but abundant with art collectors. The postWWIIAmerican administration didn’t like all their dollars disappearing overseas to patronize European artists and galleries, so it was decided that a new and wholly American artform be created to reverse the trend. Thus the CIA-backed school of Abstract Expressionism was born, a style of painting that required no skill in composition, drawing, perspective or even the ability to mix colours. Jackson Pollock dripped paint from buckets over horizontal
SUMMER 2008 canvasses, Willem De Kooning pushed paint around canvasses with a broom, making infantile bug-eyed faces. Of course, it was peddled as The Angry Youth Of America Reacting To The Post-War World, every splatter and dribble indicative of the artists’ inarticulate horror and revulsion, every brushmark torn screaming from their sensitive, tortured souls. And then came Andy Warhol, a graphic designer making good money drawing shoes and cats for fashion magazines. Andy desperately wanted to be taken seriously as an artist. The problem was he lacked the requisite rage and the compulsory macho Alpha Male hard-drinking misogynist sensibility to attack a picture like the Abstract Boys. He was a shy, withdrawn bag of homosexual nerves with a side order of premature baldness, fucked skin, dyslexia and Asperger’s Syndrome to go. So, rather than rail against the world he celebrated it in all its horrific glory by making Brillo Pad boxes that were exactly like the real thing, paintings of Campbell’s Soup tins, silkscreen portraits of tragic heroines like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Onassis, multiple images of car crash photos and electric chairs. When asked why he made masses of copies of a silkscreened portrait rather than one single oil painting, Andy disarmingly and honestly answered, ‘It’s easy.’ What was refreshing and vital about Warhol the Pop Artist was his demolition of the pretentious image of the solitary poet artist suffering in penury to create his art. Andy had plenty of assistants helping him make his pictures, the pictures themselves taken from newspapers and film magazines. The subject matter of his pictures were suggested by colleagues like New York art maven Henry Geldzahler. He was rarely present for the filming of his own movies, films that had so little in terms of camera movement that he called them ‘stillies’. Never before had an artist been so absent from his own work. Was he a visionary, a philosopher, the living mirror of the emotionally-empty consumer age—or an idiot-savant who got lucky? Artistic or autistic? True, he supported and nurtured The Velvet Underground but let’s not forget he loved Duran Duran and Curiosity Killed The Cat, too. ¶ The following selection of Warhol musings on life and how to live it, mainly collected from the Sixties and Seventies, will tell you everything and nothing.
AVOIDING THE VOID I’m sure I’m going to look in the mirror and see nothing. People are always calling me a mirror and if a mirror looks into a mirror, what is there to see?
NOTES FROM THE COUCH