When Andy Warhol said in the Sixties “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” I didn’t get it then and I still don’t get it. It was a throw-away line by an overrated “artist” who enjoyed saying and doing stupid things. There was one thing, however, that he wasn’t stupid at
and that was at making oodles of money. This sickly and physically unattractive man from Pittsburgh changed his name from Ondreij Warhola and decided to re-invent himself as a magazine illustrator which led to his iconic pictures of soup cans.
Had these cans been produced at any other time but the Sixties, Warhol would have not have had a cult following, but the Sixties were different. Following the bleakness of World War II and the desire for predictable security of the Fifties, the Sixties represented a recovery period.
It was time to relax and be silly again, just like in the Twenties, that wild period between the Two World Wars.
The world was ready to celebrate once more. Women offered free love, (free sex, actually) men stopped shaving, grew their hair long, threw their morals and soap out the window, blank verse replaced poetry and Warhol made millions out of pictures of cans and celebrities. It helped to be full of pills and alcohol, I guess.
So why am I writing about the late Andy Warhol now? Well, our fair city is priding itself on having an Andy Warhol exhibition in its newly-built GoMA, that’s Gallery of Modern Art, for you not in the know. Anyone who’s anyone or wants to be, will make sure to go see the collection. I’m not anyone, nor do I want to be, so I will not be going.
They say that if you can remember the Sixties then you weren’t really there. I was there and I remember the Sixties and I don’t agree with this stupid saying either. In the Sixties one could say anything silly and some beatnik in a black skivvy would strum his guitar and mutter, “That’s so deep, man.” And the rest of the sozzled sheep would nod in agreement.
One lucky day for Warhol, some P.A maven decided to market Warhol as a master of Pop culture and no matter how many times Andy announced he was superficial, they argued that only a deep man could be so superficial.
Doesn’t this remind you of that novel and film called “Being There” in which a gardener (played by Peter Sellers) who has led a completely sheltered existence becomes a celebrity by uttering the most meaningless rubbish and having people quote him as if he were Messianic?
Well, that’s how I regard Andy Warhol.
Warhol went so far as to announce that he was going not only to make art of mass-produced items but to mass produce the art itself. He declared that he wanted to be “a machine”, and minimize the role of his own hand in the production of his work. That means he was going to emulate Chance the Gardener in “Being There” who declared he “like to watch.”
Warhol was a lucky man in that he was able to gather around him a bunch of artists who would do the work for him at his appropriately called “The Factory”. Apparently, he did have a personal input, though, for some of his dyes had urine in them and yes he pissed on his work. Now there’s symbolism for you. “Yeah man, that’s so deep…”
He pissed on his art and people thought that was great! For crying out loud, what is the matter with the art world? What mercenary jackasses are they and why do they get away with it?
Ultimately, it’s our fault, isn’t it for “being there” and not protesting loudly enough when some moron spreads shit on a painting of the Virgin Mary or someone else covers entire mountains in sheets of plastic and the art world smiles approvingly.
We are being conned, and it’s all about money. But then I console myself with the words of a wise man who told me that God must love fools because he made so many of them.