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Andy Warhol

And The Can That Sold The World

Gary Indiana

Post WW2 US a strange place and contradictory place. On the one hand the prosperity with cheap mortgages and new appliances and reasonably priced cars. On the other the fear of nuclear war and the feeling that becoming a conformist suburban society at odds with the country's tradition of rugged individualism, and the sense that traditional values being subverted by advertising.

The 1950's anti-communist scare tactics of McCarthy etc extended to modern art which they derided as 'communist', arguing that all part of a plot to mentally unbalance Americans. Some took it to extremes, claiming that some of the paintings were actually maps of secret weapons establishments.

In NY he lived with his mother (as in sharing same bedroom)

'Pop' can mean either'populist' or 'popular' as you prefer. Warhol was just about the last Pop artist to be discovered.

AW infuriated critics bc he claimed to only paint ordinary things that he liked, making art in easiest possible way. He wasn't wrestling with inner demons, or trying to paint some deep truth.

First exhibition at a 'serious' gallery was at Feris Gallery in LA. 32 Campbell's Soup Cans 20 x 16 inches. These were hand-painted (using a projector), not the screen-printed Factory outputs of later years. Several were sold at $100 a piece but Irving Blum decided to buy them back and keep the collection in one set, paying Warhol $1000 for the lot. Vindicated by selling to MoMA for $15 million in 1996 (which was still counted as a partial gift).

MoMA description here

The atelier, or studio assistant, system of art creation continued right from the Renaissance to the present day - Warhol just made it more public, and extended it. It could mean just conceiving of the work and leaving its execution up to others. Warhol never signed anything unless it was sold, and unless it was signed, he hadn't officially made it.

Actually strange, because a Raphael suddenly loses its aura, and a lot of its value, if it turns out to be by a minor painter - it becomes something less. But if Warhol's name is attached to something, even if he was just the "producer" of a piece that he didn't actually do anything concrete to, it retains all the value.

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