Andy Warhol is the only genius I’ve ever known with an IQ of 60. –Gore Vidal
As the Art Swindle percolates as the New York Times today published an interesting article by an “opinionator” trying to shed some light on the Warhol aura.
The “opinionator” is responding to this piece in the latest issue of the New York Review of Books:
As the ur-postmodernist, Warhol’s entire artistic practice and persona stood, quite intentionally, in opposition to modernist ideas. He was the very antithesis of a Van Gogh, a Picasso, a Pollock. Where they (it was held) re-made the world visually and emotionally in the smithies of their tortured souls (to paraphrase James Joyce), Warhol blithely swiped subject matter from mass media. He presented himself as a kind of empty mirror for the images that were already all around us in advertising or entertainment or packaging. And his persona was famously cool and withdrawn, or even blank: just the opposite of the outsized, impassioned personalities of Picasso or Pollock.
I’d rephrase this a bit to say that Warhol (and Postmodernist artists) aren’t so much the antithesis of serious art, but a parody of it. To call Postmodernism a thesis is giving it far more weight than it deserves. It’s simply plagiarism of other art that laughably claims superiority to the art it plagiarizes.
Warhol isn’t anti-culture. He is the culture. He’s the high priest of Reality TV, TMZ, self-help, self-confession, pseudo-religious broadcasts, Girls/Sex and the City New York Art Stars. This follows from his movies even more than his making of objects. Warhol allows the art elite to simultaneously ridicule the middle class, while exposing their own middle class tastes and values.
Now we suffer the narcissistic dead end of imbecilic self-fascination analyzing its own emptiness and proclaiming its stellar brilliance on an endless repeat cycle.
What I like about Warhol is that he exposes the empty charade of American art. His work is the perfect complement for the Greenbergian art stars that emerged in the 1950s. Greenbergian artists are just as banal, empty and gratuitously “pretty” as are Warhol and the POP stars. Warhol and Pop refreshingly tells the truth. American high art is an empty sham.
What are artists like Agnes Martin, Robert Ryman, Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Brice Marden other than examples of middlebrow decorator values, corporate lobby values, or Hotel Wall Art values?
The above artists weren’t an extension of Pollock, Rothko and de Kooning. They were a direct repudiation of them in the same sense that Warhol was. Pollock, Rothko and de Kooning’s work suffered from unhealthy “European” values. New American Art rooted out the vestigial existentialism and surrealism and replaced it with normal, healthy American art. Brave New World Art. The Academy of the Avant-Garde. Violently opposed to the establishment who are mysteriously funding them up the wazoo and pushing their prices to stratospheric levels.
Witness the phony revolution of Banksy or Shephard Fairey with his Obama poster (today’s Warhols). Why do the elites support this? It makes the kids feel really empowered and they blow off steam. “Hey, if my revolution occurs in an art museum who gives a fuck if it doesn’t happen in reality!… We shit on the art Museum!!!! We’re some bad motherfuckers!”
They don’t seem to notice that the Art Museum is delighted to be shit on? They didn’t notice the revolutionary machine that makes shit installed at the New Museum a decade ago? From the curatorial description:
Delvoye’s first New York gallery exhibitions in the early 1990s offered a new way of considering cultural identity. While clearly influenced by Pop Art, his art picked up on the ironic ambivalence of the neoconceptual generation (Jeff Koons, et al.) while anticipating some of the identity questions that would dominate art in the following decade.
Hint to the New Museum: The identity questions that are rampant among artists are due to the fact that they don’t have identifiable selves. They might as well be identical products coming out of the ass end of Delvoye’s shitmaker for all their presumed originality.
The revolution, sponsored by Monsanto, Dow Chemical, GE and the rest of the badboys.
Orwell wrote: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Of course, the truth is something artists of today bear no noticeable relationship to. They’re tasked to provide either sterile beauty or entertainment. And believe me, the truth of today is anything but beautiful or entertaining.