Thursday, September 22, 2011

Andy Warhol

Anti thesis of traditional notion of an artist Warhol was not about passion, angst or some sort of catharsis of sufferings. In fact, art is not 'actually' about all that. We just like our artists that way. Art like poetry is about 'sweet excesses'. It is about aesthetic sensations. Artists have been purveyors of condensed sensations of all sorts which could very broadly be categorized as aesthetic. If history of art has proved anything, it is the multiplicity of sources, contexts or even paradigms of such sensations. Being orthodox about one’s fix of artistic rush may be a matter of personal choice. However, on a general level excluding anything out of it is ignorance at best and totalitarian at worst. Warhol was producing aesthetic sensations in sufficient number of people. More and more artists were being emboldened to look for alternate sources to create aesthetic sensations. His own take on the dynamics of art was to foreground the mundane or obvious. He placed a frame to Coke bottle and it started impacting aesthetically. He was serious about liking things and succeeded in communicating that.

He was about ‘presenting’ things rather than ‘representing’ things. He tested this notion and felt vindicated by the raw irritation created by his output. He was perceptive enough to realize the aesthetic stirrings that his Campbell Soup series or Brillo Boxes created in the artistic circles. And that liberated him. Once, on sure footing about his raw material (anything goes) he moved to Films and silk screen paintings. He produced films of static shot of Empire State building and people sleeping. These were long movies of 8-20 hour duration, where nothing much was happening. He was just pointing to an object long enough, allowing the innate neural aesthetic coding to do its work. His ‘screen tests’ where he asked his subjects to sit and just stare at camera were also in the same vain. Intellectuals like Susan Santog and Bob Dylan subjected themselves to this fishbowl treatment. “His better paintings, in which pure aesthetic sensation transcends subject matter, are too particular to be taken as specimens of anything other than themselves’, said The New Yorker.

Some indication of Warhols continued popularity can be gauged at the following sites

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