A man from nowhere



Let us have a look at his peculiar tactic of manipulation with wide public, when Warhol imprinted various information into his art (portraits of murderers and criminals, portraits of Jews, celebrities portfolio of 13 the most wanted men, skulls...), but the distances himself from it. It seems that it is some kind of equivalent of socially unaccepted joking that hits the target and then revokes itself. Warhol used this technique to obscure his origin, age and he did not like very much to talk about his privacy. Nevertheless, artistically he presented himself as the most distinct presenter of status and facts about the American society. He claimed that if the American democracy is for the masses that the same goes also for art. For Warhol nothing is so banal that it would prevent him from turning it into a monument using the screen printing technique and further augmented by serial repetition. After graduation from Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburg Warhol traveled to New York in 1949, where he changed his name from the original Andrew Warhola to Andy Warhol. He finds a job as a graphic designer for the modern magazines e.g. Vogue, The New Yorker, Harper抯 bazaar, or for the companies such a s Tiffany, Bonwitt Teller. At that time he often changes his residence and feels very lonely. Around 1952 his mother comes to visit him and shares the household until her death in 1972. Andy Warhol presents the beginnings of the new comprehension of work of art, when he elevates the object of everyday use, mundane and trivial object to be the object of art. Marcel Duchamp, the Frenchmen living in the America began the first revolutionary steps towards new interpretation of the work of art in 20th Century, in his Dadaism along with ready made objects. He claimed that the very author抯 intention to be work of art thus inspiring the late movements/Fluxus or conceptual art/. In 50ties the musical composer John Cage included the accidental element into the creative process and also includes sound effects (engine sounds, sirens)into a musical track. Borders between the normal life and art are blurred; the artists such as Robert Rauschenberg of Jasper Johns transform motives taken from the context of everyday life into their works. There is a movement formed within the artistic currents, which Lawrence Alloway (English art theoretician and publicist) termed Pop-Art. Pop art originated firstly in England and within the European context with Robert Rauschenberg playing a great role there. His prize in 1964 at Venetia Biennale was such a breakthrough as Monet抯 Breakfast on the Grass, for impressionists. In the level of pop art development we may track the fact that along with the new abstraction of创 hard-edge colour painting创 pop-art originated in the USA at the beginning of sixties as reaction to impulsive action painting of abstract expressionism. Pop-art as such was from the very beginning more focused on objectification of artistic statement. Pop art proceeded from the synthetic of realistic and surrealist tradition, which complementary invites into its platform also revolutionary ready made objects, Duchamp representation of Dadaism, which manifests a new form of artistic poetics. And again Andy Warhol and his statement 创I soak Johnson & Johnson tampon into alcohol and spread it on my spots. As the alcohol evaporates I do not think about anything. It does not matter, it is fashionable and stylish. Nothing at the end of the day it is a counterbalance of barrenness.创 In his case however, it is not Merz or some variations on ready made objects in shape of toilette closets but let us say Brillo Box or Campbell抯 Soup, which against the backdrop of Warhol抯 statement: 创I would like to become a machine创 document modified artistic comprehension, a new aesthetic feeling, which observe the role of individual or collective cult. What was so fascinating about Coca- Cola or American hot-dog that their portrayal and commercial in the shape of Andy Warhol painting took the world galleries by storm? Pragmatic, material word might be found guilty. It is the world in which the human being is no more able to grasp the true meaning of things (hot-dog is designed to be eaten not to be exhibited in galleries, the toilet closet is very practical, but not the exhibition halls but in different places....?!  commented art theorists at that time) or genial manipulative intention to assimilate ideal or artistic creation into the pretended impersonal calculating reality, which encompasses us? But anyway, why are we looking for a scapegoat? 创Why  the people think that artist are something strange?创 Andy Warhol is asking and at the same time replying:创 It is job as anything else.创 Therefore, Andy works in the context of pop-art mission further. Hollywood has become his life-long obsession. In 1962 he started to create very big series of celebrity portraits including Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor. In this period he also started to work on his series of graphics 创Death and Disaster创 showing electrical chairs, suicides and accidents. In 1963 he started producing movies and during the course of 5 years the create classics of avant-garde cinematography such a Sleep, Empire, Kiss 1963-1964: The Chelsea Girls, 1966. At his exhibition in Paris Flowers painting in 1965 publicly claimed that he will stop painting in order to devote his time to moviemaking. However he continued in publishing his graphic editions. However, in 1966 he stared to paint again. He extended his activities also to include the sphere of theatre via multi-media show The Exploding Plastic Inevitable with rock-roll band The Velvet Underground. In 1966 Warhol presented his work of art Cow Wallpaper and Silver Clouds in Leo Castelli gallery. His concept of a wallpaper as a work of art has very important meaning at forming installation of his pictures when Andy took up an empty space in the context of philosophy of space as a picture and a picture as space. He created wallpaper as a work Mao (1974), Self-Portraits (1978), Fish(1984). The wallpaper Fish was a part of environmental work Paintings for Children for Bruno Bischofberger Gallery, where there were hanged small paintings of children抯 toys at the level of children抯 eyes. He became a co-founder of Interview magazine, which was dedicated to fashion, movies and pop-culture. It is published up till now. Warhol抯 quotation 创In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes创, is famous all around he world. Seventies of 20 Century were for Warhol marked by the period of experiments. He created 3 versions of a statue called Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall). In year 1974 Warhol began to work on series Time Capsules, collection of cardboard boxes filled with objects of his everyday life. Other manifestation of his desire to multiply and collect things(Warhol was obviously influenced by the old Ruthenian custom of keeping things and not dispose them). He continued in production of numerous paintings, photographs and drawing: Mao, Ladies and Gentlemen, Skulls, Hammer and Sickles, Shadows, Guns, Knives, Crosses, Dollar Signs, Zeitgeist, Camouflage and many more which culminated in the series Last Supper exhibited in Milan  at the beginning of 1987. In 1984 Warhol cooperated with young artist e.g. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clement and Keith Harring on graphic works of art in which he returned to brush painting and gave up the screen printing technique, which he was exclusively using from 1962. Almost all Warhol抯 works in media were created in cooperation with his friends (Ralph Ward writer and group of guest of cafe at Serendipity no. 3 in 50ties of 20 Century), with Gerard Malanga and mangers such as Fred Hughes.

Warhol died in New York on 22nd February 1987 as a result of complications after the gallbladder surgery. In 1988 at the auction-sale his heritage was bided for 20 millions dollars.

The Museum of Modern Art of Andy Warhol in Medzilaborce was opened in 1991.


Martin CUBJAK, M.A., 14. 1. 2008