Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I never liked calling his work "Art," but critics and art lovers say Andy Warhol was a major American artist.

His paintings and exhibits evoked nothing in me but wonderment about why he was famous. But now, I read in Newsweek that the most important figure in contemporary art may be Andy Warhol. Not the Andy W. who died in 1987. That Andy, who gave us "100 Campbell’s Soup Cans" is called an "old master of pop art."

Today, in the art world, the other Warhol, the man who did wild things with his life like appearing on the "Love Boat" television show, making paintings by peeing on steel (as his canvas), creating totally static movies -- is inspiring, influencing, evoking imitators, and affecting culture today.

Curator, writer Jack Bankowsky -- who organized, in 2009, an exhibition called "Pop Life -- paired Warhol with Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. (See my post "Hot New Art " that displays their art, including an $8 million dollar decaying dead shark in a tank at a museum.

Bankowsky said Warhol has created the “next step after art in which social climbing, shopping, cruising, and collecting are bound up in a roving social sculpture held together by art — which is to say business.”

Whoa. This critic is saying that Andy Warhol, connecting making money with his own 1982 "Dollar Sign" paintings, which depicted Warhol's feeling about selling out, was setting an example for all the artists who now do more than paint and sculpt — who appear in the tabloids and on TV, who design for Louis Vuitton, star in luxury ads. Their price tags matter as much as the weird, repulsive "art" they create.

In D.C., Warhol's creations are on display at the National Gallery, titled "Warhol headlines. The exhibit includes video, and film doings by Warhol, while at the nearby Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum, they're displaying 102 of Warhol's 179 shadow paintings that are various unintelligible images.

Buyers are grabbing early "Marilyn." His films -- "A great body of work ... simply breathtaking," said John Hanhard, a veteran film critic --.along with all Warhol's early works, are selling out. Andy's 1986 self portrait sold for $38 million, in May.

“I always think that quantity is the best gauge on anything,” Warhol once said. And like a maxim, it governs his art. When rich collectors pay millions for a single shadow painting, as though it were a Rembrandt, they aren’t understanding what Warhol’s products mean. But they are proving his point, anyway.

And Bankowsky said, “We have to accept the business/art network as what he’s about.”

That the body, figure, face, the very being of Warhol -- everything he did and was is worth millions ... well ... he looked sort of like a gay rock star.

Since I've written about him in this 1,100s word post -- my art, in which I sort of wildly intermingle my understanding, and my artistic opinion, and wild art is booming -- gee, at $10 a word, or $100 a word what I'm saying right here about Andy might be worth -- wow-- $110,000 next year!

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