CCTP-725: Fall 2011

Week 7 Discussions

In his introduction to “Modern, Postmodern, and Contemporary” Arthur C. Danto discusses images before “the era of art,” when the concept of art had not yet entered the social consciousness, and therefore did not factor into the production of art. This created a huge division between art that was made before this purposeful awareness, and art that was made with it in mind. Danto went on to say that this shift marked the end of a narrative, indicating that “whatever art there was to be would be made without benefit of a reassuring sort of narrative in which it was seen as the appropriate next stage in the story.” This paradigm of a linear and Western centric story was not limited to art history, but was the model for the creation of a single history that was employed and exploited by imperialism (among other movements, governments, and people.) This singular narrative which Danto characterizes as “reassuring” would naturally only be reassuring to those who fit the model. Those on the fringe (minorities, “Eastern” cultures, women, etc.) would be more likely to find the model itself oppressive, and its dissolution freeing.

That being said, freedom from the 2D continuum developed for art and history alike would not mean immediate equality or re-contextualizing of our understanding of history. Just as we cannot un-know the concept of art and remove it from our production methods, we cannot take back the centuries of working within this paradigm, of (for example) valuing the art and “accomplishments” of white men over those of all others. It has been absorbed into our narrative of history, and that narrative is as much a construct of how we as a society (or species that evolved in the specific way that we did) are now capable of understanding “history”. Post-modernism would attempt to de-center the art world, only to find that it was not only the Western-centric model that required a center, but rather the entire way in which we understand and compartmentalize the art/world.

In “Transfiguration of the Commonplace”, Danto cites that “the world is what makes words true or false, or for that matter, empty.” As we have discussed in class, all things are texts, all texts are multi-layered constructs. We imbue ideas, theories, words, stories with “truth” or meaning. A canon is a really critical example of such constructs. Once we determine a canon, we use it as the icons (religious reference intended) or examples by which we can judge others. In art history, the canon is a cross-section of the “reassuring narrative” proposed by Danto, and can represent an entire movement or era of art for future generations. In 1937 Beaumont Newhall, an accomplished curator, photographer and art historian, published “The History of Photography” and established the canon for photography. His book is still the textbook for photography, and has in later editions incorporated more recent photographers. Newhall had no qualms in defining THE history of photography, despite its surfacing in multiple cultures across the world. In creating his canon, he defined what we would consider to be the important influential photographers for the next century (at least).



In his essay “Getting the Warhol We Deserve: Cultural Studies and Queer Culture” Douglas Crimp discusses the effect that Warhol had on the art world, and mentions that perhaps the lasting effect that Andy Warhol had is in expanding that which we can question or consider to be art. This kind of contribution is so much greater than that of many artists before him, because Warhol got us to rethink everything. And in doing so, we have been (and still are) forced to address the motives and meaning in every choice or idea we support. It is in the end, about “aboutness.”

Serene Al-Kawas

Yu-wei Wang

In the chapter of Modern, Postmodern and Contemporary, Arthur Danto describes the art movement from modernism to contemporary art in mid seventies. The crucial transition of this point is the abandoned of the narrative, which bears the heritage of the art history to the forms of art that emphasis on the spirit in which the art was made. By liberating from the burden of history, the contemporary artists are freely to make art in whatever way, in whatever purposes they wished. With this new attitude, the boundary between high arts and low arts is blurred; instead the mixture of high and low arts emerged that required the surrender of places (not only means the actual places but the mental openness for the acceptance) in museums to the new generation of artists.

Andy Warhol is definitely the most famous artist in the Pop art. More precisely, he has become the icon of Pop art, since it is inevitable that when talking about Pop artworks the first image that pops in one’s mind will probably be one of his works. It is true that Warhol’s ideology of artworks is revolutionary in the domain of art, for his usage of substantial monologue repetition of images, his usage of commodities as the subject of works, his emphasis on commercial benefits of the art’s exchange- value transcend use-value. Warhol’s approach toward art in some extent can be view under several features of “Camp”. In Notes On “Camp”, Sontag makes a long list of criteria of what the “Camp” refers to. As Sontag noted, “the essence of Camp is its love of unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration”, “the aesthetic mode of Camp is artifice and stylization not in terms of beauty “, “the Camp sensibility is disengaged and depoliticized”, “Camp is a failure of seriousness, “Camp is either completely naïve or wholly conscious”, “Camp is not necessary but often has high affiliation with homosexual”…, the standards of Camp provide us a way to recognize Warhol’s intentions of approaches toward art and the characteristics of Camp usually fits Warhol’s works. However, Warhol is more than that.

Right: CocaCola by Andy Warhol
Left: Self-portrait by Andy Warhol

In Andy Warhol, or The Machine Perfected, Thierry de Duve marks the differences of the notion of art between Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol, two legendary Pop artists. He mentions “Beuys based art on will and thus on a principle of production, and Warhol on desire and thus on a principle of consumption….for Beuys art was labor while for Warhol it was commerce.” In Duve’s argument, he proposes that Warhol is merely a business artist that there is no mystery of his ambition, hence, he named his studio “Factory” and called himself “boss”. Nevertheless, Warhol’s works are still resplendent nowadays. His works did not subside with the past of time. In my opinion, although he made great propagandas toward his works and himself as well, the crux of his success is his intention to bring the mass culture upon the arena of high art culture, which initially exclusive to the aristocracies via the approaches of using daily commodities or the images of well-known celebrities. As Sontag wrote “The ultimate Camp statement: it’s good because it’s awful…” Warhol’s ways of composing artworks is awful in the eye of some artists, for his works is merely the repetitions and reproductions of existed imageries, whereas, his thoughts to make the work in this way is what valuable. Thus, he is more than Camp.

"Poor Little Rich Girl" The narrative of his movies are usually lag of substantial or dramatic plots that contradict with traditional Hollywood style of narrative.

Pic sources:

Art as Experience

Just as Warhol recontextualized commercial images to "testify" to their power, audiences/artists today might consider using mindfulness to recontextualize everyday experience as art. In the realm of conceptual art, redefining the concept of what constitutes art is perhaps the anarchy of creativity that makes aesthetics successful.

Building on Serene's post ("perhaps the lasting effect that Andy Warhol had is in expanding that which we can question or consider to be art") Warhols work might prompt us to consider art as experience itself. The subjects of Warhol's work were consumption, desire, fame. These are important aspects of contemporary experience (not in Danto's sense, but in the sense of recent past and present), as the popular images and icons of consumerism are the signs/symbols/language of contemporary culture. Duve and Krauss identify Warhol as a "mirror," who attempted to perfect himself as an impersonal machine, for the bohemian desires of others. Warhol (re)produced images that reflected the pop culture milieu of his time, drawing attention to the function of commercial images in everyday life. For the art world, that meant reconsidering habits regarding appropriation, value and originality. For the general audience it means examining habits regarding the perception of these images.

The body as technology. Descartes, in Danto's writing, brought "the structures of thought to consciousness." But postmodernism (or maybe even post-postmodernism) would likely reject Cartesian dualism. Contemporary theories of technology (such as mediology from Debray) might collapse the dualism of humanism versus "technologism" by positing that technology is culture and culture is technology. Viewed differently, the body is a technology that mediates experience. Duve and Krauss quote Courbet: "'the free brain of the artist should be like a photographic plate, a simple recording device, when he is working.'" In the same way that painting and photography are technologies of reproduction, the brain also records and reproduces experience. More accurately, the entire body is involved in creating and mediating experience through the nervous system. The body is a network used to process information, react to stimulus, and influence other networked nodes of interaction (other bodies, physical objects, digital information, etc.) This interaction is further mediated through the codes of language and culture.

Mindfulness as a method of discovery for art through bodily experience, i.e. experience mediated through the five senses. If we explode the Western canon of art history as the only narrative through which to understand art, tools of mindfulness from wisdom traditions (read religious traditions) from around the world become available for an alternative understanding. However, it's important not to trample without pause into the camp of Orientalism, reifying "Eastern" traditions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism) as paragons of mindful contemplation. It might be said that mindfulness as a practice in contemporary life is a construction of globalized society, arriving at our disposal through a wide variety of traditions (self-help, congnitive-behavioral psychology, Yoga, etc.) To the extent that media and mindfulness are interconnected, I created my blog, entitled Mindful Media.

Camp, art and the beholder. For Sontag, "Camp" (as a stylized sensibility about art or culture) cannot be found in nature. It is only when the layer of style is added to natural gestures or works of art that they become "Camp." In the case of Warhol, the Brillo Boxes under one's sink would not be art, but when moved into the gallery and painstakingly recreated, they become "Camp." Does mindfulness allow for the same experience in everyday life? Could the Brillo Boxes (or Saran Wrap or dish soap) under your sink be seen as camping there, occupying a world of under-the-sink-ness accompanied by cockroaches and dingy sponges? Writes Sontag, "True, the Camp eye has the power to transform experience. But not everything can be seen as Camp. It's not allin the eye of the beholder." Perhaps then, "Camp" and "art" more generally are in the eye of the beholder conditioned by certain cultural and institutional practices (the gallery, the museum, the studio). This, to me, is Warhol's substantial contribution - to act as a mirror for pop culture and the institutions of the art world. Warhols soup cans or Brillo boxes are "objects, in short, with little desirability unless viewed through the eyes of a son of Czech immigrants who grew up in poverty and for whom the egalitarianism of consumption was the very stuff of the American dream."(Duve and Krauss, 6) Warhol curuates these images for us through his lens, mediating a new experience of objects we typically take for granted.

Try increasing your awareness through a simple exercise: focus your attention on one sensory experience (sight, sound, touch, smell or taste). Notice the stimuli you receive as input into your body. Then notice the thoughts each stimulus creates. Can these thoughts be construed as works of art? They may not be replicable or institutionalized, but they may be more valuable than the singular experience of viewing a painting, photograph, or installation. That is, their value may be intrinsic in a sharing economy (within the network of your own body), but these experiences would have no value in a commercial economy (you can't sell your thoughts, at least not without translating them into another medium and utilizing some form of intellectual property). Warhol helps us walk the line.

Ben King

Yizhou Zhang

“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.”

“Business art is the step that comes after Art.”

“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

“I always like to work on leftovers, doing the leftover things. Things that were discarded, that everybody knew were no good, I always thought had a great potential to be funny.”

“In the future,everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

“Isn't life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?”

- Andy Warhol

When I decided to buy the Chinese version of The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: (From A to B and Back Again) in a local Avant-garde bookstore several years ago, I knew nothing about this pope of pop except the Marilyn Monroe portrait and I couldn’t totally understand what he was talking about. After learning more about his artwork as well as his personal life, I found that his subversion of traditional high art, insight of the consumer society, promotion of underground and homosexual culture, and the pursuit of fame and money, have never been out of date even in today’s context.

As the icon of pop, Andy Warhol perfectly demonstrated every single characteristic of pop art summarized by Richard Hamilton - popular, transient, expendable, low-cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous and Big Business. His art is the “art after the end of art”, which doesn’t mean a termination but an open definition of art: anything can become a piece of artwork and anyone can become an artist. Pop art allows all forms and objects of art, especially those couldn’t be incorporated into the mainstream art history in the past. Danto argued about meaning, narrative and subject of art, while Warhol never attempted to dig any deeper - he just captured the essence of the consumer society and redefined the boundaries of art by introducing everyday objects, images and symbols into new forms. Banana is banana, soup cans are soup cans, Marilyn Monroe is Marilyn Monroe - there is neither the signifier nor the signified behind these images.


Pop art was like a revolution, since Andy Warhol created anti-traditional art by embracing the concepts incompatible with high art such as commercialism/consumerism and taking advantage of mass media. As Nava described consumption as something “far more than just economic activity; it is also about dreams and consolation, communication and confrontation, image and identity”, Warhol’s reproduction of art was exactly the same. As a hybrid of complex interests and absurd behaviors, Warhol practiced the enthusiasms, desires, ambitions and illusions of his generation.

Moreover, Warhol even stepped beyond his time. By exploring all possible applications and mediums for representation and performance of art, he proved that “the medium is the art” just as Marshall MuLuhan pointed out “the medium is the message”. Also, Warhol was a master of culture hybridity since he got himself involved in almost all areas of pop art (design, painting, installations, sound recording, film, photography, video, advertising, etc.) and successfully mixed them together.

Di Lu

What Andy Warhor is to pop art is just like Steve Jobs to Apple. It’s hard to conclude if the former is achieved by the later or the opposite. The only thing for sure is that it will be incomplete to discuss pop art without reference to Andy Warhol (or talk about Apple without mentioning Steve Jobs). Interestingly, the two icons, Warhol and Jobs, are similarly worshiped for challenging the traditions in their own fields and succeeding in the very end. They both boldly jumped out of the norms and conventions and inspired people that “anyone can do anything” with the movements they created. Putting aside Apple and Jobs’ story which has been plentiful these days on various media, I think the most lasting influence of Andy Warhol is his question of “what is art” raised by his nothing-but-traditional approach of artistic works.

Danto discussed in The Transfiguration of the Commonplace that in the new era of art, one of the obstacles in the way of art appreciation is that you can’t tell whether something is art by merely looking at it. I think it perfectly applies to Andy Warhol’s works where the artists eliminated manual efforts and skills which once were the essence of art by replacing them with repetition, mass production and resources from daily commonplace. How possible can the artistic works be appreciated by a person if he realizes he can physically do the same thing the artist does? Or if we remove the signature of Andy Warhol, are we confident the works can still enjoy as much compliments as it does without hiding its source?


Andy Warhol holds the perspective that “anything can be art and anyone can be artist”, which is welcomed by some and doubted by others. To answer the profound question of the nature of art concerns further (or maybe endless) discussions, explorations and experiments. One of the approached I find interesting is through quantities by the team of Russian-borned American artists Komar and Melamid, who conducted a research of “the most wanted paintings”. They were able to present the most and least wanted paintings in several countries by polls and market research. As Melamid once described:

" It's interesting: we believe in numbers, and numbers never lie. Numbers are innocent. It's absolutely true data. It doesn't say anything about personalities, but it says something more about ideals, and about how this world functions. That's really the truth, as much as we can get to the truth. Truth is a number."



What is even more interesting is how Danto commented on the survey. Although it was presented resembling a serious scientific research with clear analysis and methodology, Danto argues it is not about the survey or paintings, but “the play of ideas involved in making them, in thinking that they could be made, in kibbitzing on the different styles they use, in winking ironically at the art educated audience who will actually view the work, though they would never buy the painting if they found it by itself in a gallery, and so on.”

In reading the Douglas Crimp article, I was particularly interested in the quote by Rosalind Krauss, in which she states, "Students in art history graduate programs don't know how to read a work of art. They're getting visual studies instead–a lot of paranoid scenarios about what happens under patriarchy or under imperialism." I found it interesting that cultural studies was criticized by both sides of the political spectrumthe right side and the left side. To the right wing side, cultural studies was seen as too liberal, motivated by politics or the application of reinterpreted history to works of art. The left was concerned that it did not have enough theoretical rigor, and did not thoroughly apply other disciplines, such as philosophy or anthropology the way “true” art history does. Crimp argues that by using cultural studies, whether it be popular culture, film, gender or sexual studies, etc., in combination with an analysis of the object, it allows us to gain new insight into the artwork and the artist.
The discussion of queer culture in Crimp’s article made me think about Robert Mapplethorpe and his works from The Perfect Moment exhibition. When looking at the photographs simply as portraits without any historical, social, or cultural context, you loose their full meaning. Although his photographs are beautiful, they have so much power and to analyze them solely as visual objects, it misses an opportunity to create a strong emotional connection with the images. In addition, as Crimp stated, when we analyze Mapplethorpe’s work through the lens of the identity of the artist, we gain insight into the queer community in the 1980’s and the different expressions of sexuality and identity. I am a proponent of combining cultural studies with art history when analyzing artwork. I agree with Crimp: I believe it allows for viewers to broaden their access of interpretation instead of hindering it.

Xindi Guo

“I never wanted to be a painter; I wanted to be a tap dancer.”---Andy Warhol
What is the difference between a ‘painting’ and a ‘symbol’?

A painting is something like the Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. It displayed in a museum. People should go to Paris if they want to see the real painting. (Although someone says the one displayed in the Louvre is not the real one.) People think the original one have higher value than the copies. A symbol is something the Andy Warhol’s Big Banana. It appears everywhere, on t-shirts, on bags, on mugs etc. Nobody care which one is the original one. Where is the big banana from? It is from the first album cover of the Velvet Underground designed by Andy Warhol. The whole cover is just a big banana with blackened skin. It almost has no relations with the band, but Andy Warhol created a symbol to make them popular. When people see the banana appears on a t-shirt or a mug, people was reminded the band, the Velvet Underground. Therefore, the big different of a painting art and a symbol is that we cannot use a painting, but we a symbol is designed to be use. An important attribute of pop art is to use it in our daily life. To be used is also the key to make an art popular.



"I want to be a machine."
---Andy Warhol

What is the difference between ‘one’ and ‘many’?

‘One’ is something like Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin’s The Silver Goblet. People focus on its shape, color, position and all other elements of the goblet itself and painting skills. ‘Many’ is something like Andy Warhol’s Campbell's Soup Cans. When 32 Campbell’s soup cans comes together, people couldn’t help to think: What is a can? Where are those cans from? What is the brand of the cans? What is the flavor of each can? When people see the image, people was reminded the image that soup cans neatly arranged on the rack in the supermarkets. Nobody cares the techniques behind the images. The 32 Campbell’s soup cans are like today we watch commercials that repeat the same slogan again and again. It may be boring or silly, but one day, you will find you have already remembered it and can blurt out. Therefore the significance of ‘many’ here is to shift people’s focus form elements outside an image to the content of an image. In another word, Andy Warhol’s art remind people not to compliment artist’s skill but to pay attention to the image itself. Chardin_-_The_Silver_Goblet.jpg
Picture sources:,_by_Leonardo_da_Vinci,_from_C2RMF_retouched.jpg

The American Dream & Warhol - Jess Steele

Warhol/ Art Today
Warhol, perhaps most famously, captured the naiveté of “The American Dream” (Duave, Krauss). Laying bare the narratives of capitalism, Warhol’s picture of a national “opportunism [that] hides a destiny that is no less tragic, not because the American dream failed, but because it succeeds everywhere” (Duave, Krauss 6). Demonstrating, in many ways, the “absorption of all works of art into commodities, of all aesthetic values into exchange-value” (Duave, Krauss 6), art work produced for and from Occupy Wall Street protests seem, in a way, to promote a Warholian sentiment of art, not in its political intent, but in its use of the appropriated image to capture what may have “lain beyond the pale” (9) through an “awareness of history” (5). Remixing commercial art, data and marketing/advertising style into new forms of expression, through a hybrid of mediums, much of the Occupy Wall Street art takes into consideration a network of artistic stylization to produce to new perspectives.


Making use of everyday commodities, we also see a Warholian sentiment in the mix of “high” and “low” art through the interplay of product, identity, relationships, replication and the “handmade”.



Today, it seems we are still questioning “what is art” with the play of reproduction/production and technology (you can “metrocard” yourself).

"David Hockney's new show is alive. Every few days he creates a painting with his iPad's Brushes application, then emails it to identical devices on display at Paris's Pierre Berge-Yves St. Laurent Foundation, where his "Fresh Flowers" exhibition runs through January 30. As of this writing, there are over 300 pictures and counting" (

The Warhol Effect and the American Dream
As tools of the Internet and social media continue to break down the economics of production Warhol attempted to capture, it seems the average pop cultural consumer has become almost hyper-aware of the commercial modes of power laying tacks to the many narratives we consume. I wonder then, if even “the bourgeoisie” of artistic production (i.e., Hollywood, the academics, etc.) have also attempted, in some ways, in reaction, to adopt narratives departing from the modern linear institutional standards. Surely, it is more difficult today to capture audience demand for a “modern” narrative.

As a program of traditional academic institution, CCT itself becomes an attempt to capture the networked affects of artistic production. By “cutting across disciplinary and institutional boundaries”, we no longer accept a fixed picture but explore “changing technology and changing cultures” and the “relationships” among them and, perhaps most importantly, to ourselves.

Perhaps one of the most standardized media forms – the family sitcom – has also attempted to break through a linear progression of legitimizing new forms of “the American Dream”. Here, I specifically think of Modern Family where we see elements of Santog’s camp stylization where “everything is in quotation marks” (3). De Duve/Krauss write:

“The artist, the gallery, the practices of art history, and the discipline of philosophical aesthetics must all, in one or another way, give way and become different, and perhaps vastly different, from what they have so far been…The institutional story must wait upon history itself.”(17)

Laying bare the camera as voyager, both the content and form of Modern Family take advantage of a sentimental past of family sitcom narratives, the American Dream narrative itself, and the television medium in order to create a new hybrid of form of “the institutional story”(Duave, Krauss 17). One critic’s review of Modern Family’s “self-interrogating”“pseudo-vérité” seems almost an extension of Santog’s argument for the productivity of camp:

The dishwasher drone of domesticity has turned into free jazz. Modern Family taps right into all this, the cameras that lurch through its three households producing the sensation of a wild and shaky experiment, recorded for purposes educational or scientific.

As to the politics of the show, I’ve concluded that there are none.

While Warhol’s art work literally and figuratively removed “the frame”, Modern Family seeks to capture the fame in order for us to see it:

It has to be normative, prescriptive, something: it’s called Modern Family, for God’s sake. But sitcom is confinement, whether in the floating apartments of Seinfeld or the dormitories of Hogan’s Heroes. And family—modern, un‑modern—is simply the situation of all situations.

In a world oversaturated with the effects of consumerism, in this way, one can have some optimism for a hopefully continued pluralistic view of artistic production, even in commercial art. Warhol’s legacy and a continued breakdown in the economics of production, I also hope, will help to continue to break boundaries and display the legacies each production inevitably normalizes.

siyang wu

Lian and I had a discussion about the so called “Chinese Modern Art” and the most famous Chinese modern artist, Ai Weiwei. It is kind of ridiculous that one of the artists I dislike reminds me one of the artists I am crazy about. Not only because they are sharing the same initial in their names, “A W”. Besides their initial, what connects them together is the world “money”. Differently, Andy Warhol was a successful business man, but Ai Weiwei was arrested by the Chinese government for tax evasion. Although many of his supporters insisted that “tax evasion” was a trumped-up charge imposed by Chinese government to prevent him from “safeguarding league right”. I felt so disappointed about him. At the same time, I feel that the most lovely part of Andy Warhol is that he loved money, and he never tried to conceal his, actually he was kind of proud of his success in making money. It was money that accomplished Andy Warhol.
When you google Ai Weiwei, what occupy your screen are the photos of his own. On the other side, when you google Andy Warhol, his colorful works are full of the window.Even though some people may suspect the real power of Andy Warhol’s “art”, since even himself treated himself as a machine(and he was proud of this). I can understand their suspicion, since it seems that Andy’s works were made easily. Moreover, based on the education we have gotten for many years, the so called “art” is something painful, full of emotion and containing great contention. But all of this have nothing to do with Andy Warhol. I take Andy Warhol a great artist, his lacking of meaning is meaningful to other people. He used both his works and his discourse to affect the world and open a new era of art, in which, commerce and art are combined naturally. When you look at his work, what come to your mind are the fantastic pictures of 1950s and 1960s. Thirdly, the suspicion on Andy ignore the social context, people who are familiar with advertisement and commercial art may underestimate the shock that pop art gave in that time.

The most lovely part of Andy Warhol was that he was honest. He could make his art and express his contention frankly and straightforwardly. To many people, he was degeneration, he was moral corruption, he was freak, but, what the director Derek Jarman had commended on Ossie Clark, the idol of Hippies, “corruption is the first sign of smart”, also works on Andy Warhol.

Victoria Hamilton

I am fascinated by Andy Warhol's outright perpetuation of myths of consumer culture. Bigger, better, faster, stronger because of X, Y, Z Product.

"...Warhol's art of the '60s improves with time. This is all the more astonishing in that it is practically nothing but the ceaselessly repeated accumulation of ordinary consumer goods: cans of Campbell's Soup and boxes of Brillo, bottles of Coca-Cola, images of stars ---objects, in short, with little desirability unless viewed through the eyes of the son of Czech immigrants who grew up in poverty and for whom the egalitarianism of consumption was the very stuff of the American dream. ("The President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and, you imagine, you can drink Coke, too)" (Thierry de Duve, Rosalind Krauss, Andy Warhol, or The Machine Perfected)


Grant Hill Drinks Sprite.

Be Like Mike. Gatorade, 1992.

"The American dream can of course do without promises, it only needs to be real for those who know how to get ahead. It might seem that Warhol's work is context to expose it and to strip its cynicism bare."

I love Hank Willis Thomas' Branded Series, I see it as a continuation of Warhol's brand appropriation and questioning of the irony that is intrinsic in consumer culture. He uses ubiquitous brands and remixes them to make biting commentary on race and consumer culture. Especially as it relates to the




Ashley Wei

My knowledge of Andy Warhol and his art works remains only in small-scaled printings and images on browser. Grown up in a digital age, where photograph and Photoshopping are taken for granted, I used to ask myself: what is so special of Warhol in our time? Sure, he was the first artist who came up with the idea, but on surface it seemed to me that the matrix of Marilyn’s faces, repainted in different combinations of colors, is of no difference to many other Photoshoped commercial posters in our time. It was until last winter when I saw his original paintings in person in the art museum of Basel that I was enlightened to get some sense of Warhol and his art. Standing in front of a three feet tall soup can, the amazing texture of aluminum package fascinated me so much that I couldn’t help standing there and stared – yes stare- at the painting for a long time. And that was the first time I realized how artistic could a soup can be.

small image usually seen on the internet

the larger scaled image shows more details

However, when a couple of weeks ago when I saw his Brillo Box I had a new understanding of him. I remembered Professor Irvine said, “But now he handcrafted what was mass-produced by machine, I mean, how ridiculous it is, how brilliant it is.” This quote is an Ah-hah moment for me, and I found it in line with many readings in the following weeks, that is, modern art deflected the art of painting from its representational agenda to a new agenda in which the means (medium) of representation became the object of representation. Modern art is not the resemblance of reality (or the nature), but it is part of the reality.

external image photo%2B4.jpg Andy Warhol external image photo%2B3.jpg Deborah Kass

While reading about camp, appropriation and Pop Art, and Andy Warhol this week, I first thought of what I would consider a rather campy image I saw this summer at the National Portrait Gallery. It’s an image which struck me enough to buy the postcard version--Deborah Kass’s “Altered Image 1”. I knew nothing of the background of the photo; I found it interesting and compelling on its own without a back story. Upon researching it for this week’s post, I learned it was actually a self-portrait of Deborah Kass imitating (or remixing) a famous portrait by Christopher Makos of none other than Andy Warhol in drag.

This photo exemplifies some of the trademarks of camp as outlined by Susan Sontag’s “Notes on ‘Camp’” and also embodies some of Andy Warhol’s aesthetic. Camp demonstrates a “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.” The subject appears unnatural, “going against the grain of one’s sex”, an over-the-top version of woman imitating man imitating woman. It relates to glorifying the epicene and “relish for the exaggeration of sexual characteristics and personality.”

However, an important point made by Arthur C. Danto in “The Transfiguration of the Commonplace” reveals much more than meets the eye about any two similar images. “It is after all possible for two things to resemble one another with radically different meanings: a quotation is about an utterance, not about what the utterance is about: and the echo of an utterance is not about anything at all.” In this case, Kass is not simply echoing the portrait of Warhol. Hers is a “quotation” of sorts in Danto’s words, because she’s stating something about the “utterance” of Warhol’s portrait. Kass is taking her own part in the dialogue as the National Portrait Gallery she “positions herself as both heir to Warhol's gay camp style and critical of his complacency in the art world's patriarchical culture.”

A concept pointed out both by Sontag and Danto is the aspect of time in art, which I think can’t be overemphasized. Sontag notes that time can allow things to gain the aura of camp because often what we experience now is too close to home, as it were, to be considered fantastical enough to be campy. Indeed, time is critical--to the artist and to the viewer. In fact, the very essence of something being an artwork, Danto argues, is “then only relative to certain art-historical presuppositions.” If it does not pass this test, it risks becoming merely a thing, a “commonplace counterpart”.

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Now, even if a work passes that test of “true art”, the artist may disagree that it is art, like Andy Warhol often is quoted as doing. Of his work known as “Shadows”, currently on display at the Hirshhorn Museum, Warhol said, "Someone asked me if I though they were art and I said no. You see, the opening party had a disco. I guess that makes them disco décor." But here again, there were art-historical presuppositions at work in Warhol’s mind. He did not simply make disco décor, he made art that was about, or quoting, disco décor.

Think you can make art out of anything too? There’s an app for that. The Warhol: D.I.Y. POP.
It purports to allow users to “learn the Warhol process step by step”. I can’t help but feel that there’s an element lacking in this sort of artistic venture. It’s not quite D.I.Y. if silkscreen is done with the touch of a finger. However, it’s an interesting concept and a way to spread Warhol’s message. It’s a way for people to feel they have a Warholian 15 minutes of fame.

--Barry Blitch

Helene Vincent

In his article 'Andy Warhol, or The Machine Perfected', Thierry de Duve brought up several points that I found interesting, including his connections of Warhol's art and attitude to Karl Marx. Since reading Das Kapital in high school I have had a personal interest in Marx's ideas, particularly how Marx's idea of commodity fetishization relates to art. After completing this week's readings I feel that Warhol is an artist who somehow managed to dodge many of the problems of fetishization, yet still falls victim to what Marx sees as the basic problem because of the Capitalist society he lived in.
According to Karl Marx, "The use value of objects is realized without exchange, by means of a direct relation between the objects and man, while, on the other hand, their value is realized only by exchange, that is by means of a social process" ( Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume One." The Marx Engels Reader. According to Marx, the money-form is the basis for this fetishism. In the capitalist system every object is exchangeable provided that its value is understood—for example, 20 yards of linen=1 coat, so 20 yards of linen are worth one coat. Objects (commodities), therefore, have value relationships to each other. Furthermore, there is a universal equivalent, paper money—which is exchangeable for anything even though it is something along the lines of a fantasy. So, man substitutes a substance of no value for virtually everything. While art is an essential and basic aspect of culture, one that has always had a kind of mystical quality, it is not exempt from the fetishism that Marx describes.328). In the Marxist context, "Fetishism" means attributing a kind of power to an object to the point where one believes and acts as though that power is an inherent characteristic of the object rather than a human attribution. As it pertains to commodities, Marx means that we attribute special powers to traded objects and their relationships. According to Marx, the money-form is the basis for this fetishism. In the capitalist system every object is exchangeable provided that its value is understood—for example, 20 yards of linen=1 coat, so 20 yards of linen are worth one coat. Objects (commodities), therefore, have value relationships to each other. Furthermore, there is a universal equivalent, paper money—which is exchangeable for anything even though it is something along the lines of a fantasy. So, man substitutes a substance of no value for virtually everything.
While art is an essential and basic aspect of culture, one that has always had a kind of mystical quality, it is not exempt from the fetishism that Marx describes. There is a subjectivity of exchange value for art that depends on factors other than labor time—Labor time is ultimately not the defining factor of art’s value. Since he was the subject of our readings this week, I will use Andy Warhol as an example. In an interview with Paul Taylor Warhol stated, “I don't see why one Jasper Johns sells for three million and one sells for, you know, like four hundred thousand. They were both good paintings.” I’m pretty sure those two statements would prompt Marx to say something along the lines of “Precisely my thoughts, Andy!” There is an element to the value of art that is intangible. Something that De Duve stated in his article reminded me of this different idea of value, he says “First the market for painting separated from that of images at large, then the market of the avant-garde, then of a particular avant-garde, and of a particular artist. Each name is a little monopoly. In a monopoly situation, the price of a commodity is not determined by its exchange-value; only supply and demand operate.”

I find Andy Warhol so fascinating as a person because in many ways he embraced factors of capitalist society that Marx frowned upon. For example, as De Duve points out in his article, that Warhol’s belief was something along the lines of capital=creativity, the desire to make money yields a creative drive as opposed to a creative drive eventually yielding money. Furthermore, Warhol’s very inspiration was the capitalist society he lived in and he was adamant about his art not conveying a negative message about his society but rather just putting it on display. I do not think Marx would approve of this elevation of low, capitalist culture because it does precisely that-elevate capitalist culture to the art form. But on the other hand, as Hal Foster points out in his article ‘Death in America’, Warhol was also concerned with addressing the mass subject. Warhol stated, “I don’t think art should be only for the select few, I think it should be for the mass of American people.” That idea of ‘art for everyone’ is very much in line with a Marxist viewpoint because it suggests a move away from a Bourgeois dominated art scene that sought to please and benefit only a small fraction of society. By painting everyday objects, celebrities, and events that the majority of American people (could you even go as far as to say all American people?) would have been familiar with, Warhol removed any sense of elitism from his art, he reduced his surroundings to their very basic, passive images and in doing so he created art that was very much for all people.