Andy Warhol : A Salesman or an Artist?

Two readings of Andy Warhol: (Foster in MacCabe 118)

  1. his images as referential: Underneath the glamorous surface of commodity fetishes and media stars [Thomas] Crow finds 'the reality of suffering and death': the tragedies of Marilyn, Liz and jackie in particular are said to prompt 'straightforward expressions of feeling'.  
  2. his images as simulacral: e.g. Roland Barthes: "What Pop art wants. . . is to desymbolize the object," that is, to release the image from deep meaning into (metaphoric association or metonymic connection) into simulacral surface.  "The pop artist does not stand behind his work. . . and he himself has no depth: he is merely the surface of his pictures, no dignified, no intention, anywhere."  
  3. Warhol: "If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am.  There's nothing behind it."
"The seductive attributes of the imagery exploited by these artists [pop artists] thus tend to have a disconcerting quality.  A trace of maelancholy inhabits the euphoria; the gloss and finish assume an enigmatic, threadbare patina; precision, turned thus on its head, becomes a challenge to the eye.  Whereas the designers had merely displayed products, the artists were now displaying designed products."  (Osterworld, 17)

"The point is not to decide if Warhol's work is subversive of commodity culture either actively, thanks to the violence of a critical apprehension of it, or passively, through the endless reflection of its infinite repetitiveness.  Nor is the point to establish if Warhol is fully, consciously and cynically explointing the very culture he both embraces and opposes.  The tension between the dandy and the flaneur shows that the condition of modern art is schizophrenic, constitutionally divided so that no individual talent can counteract the discrepancies that inhabit it." (Lombardo in MacCabe 37)

Andy Warhol mottos:
  Toy Paintings: Four Monkeys. 1983.

Marilyn, 1967.

Marilyn, 1967.

Marilyn Monroe, 1967.

Six Moon Explorers, 1963.

Mao, 1972.

Self - Portrait, 1967.

Osterwold, Tilman.  Pop Art.
MacCabe, Colin, et al, eds.  Who Is Andy Warhol?  Pittsburgh, PA: The British Film Institute and The Andy Warhol Museum, 1997.