an homage to warhol and monroe's altarpiece
Andrew Warhola was born and raised in Pittsburgh and of Czechoslovakian descent. He graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1949 and became an illustrator. Being in the business of commerce and art, he was exposed to lots of opportunities to show his work. That break came in 1962 in Los Angeles, his personal artwork in the Ferus Gallery. The exhibit included the famous Campbell's Soup Cans
. He has become one of the most famous pop artists. His way of doing his artwork is intentional poor duplication of reproductions of popular and everyday items, which includes Coke bottles, and pictures of known actors and events. His works mostly dealt with the superficiality of being celebrities and how everything "known" or popular is merely manufactured items. He is known for giving the remark: "In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes." On a personal note, I find this very prophetic of the artist, mainly because now, we see how everyone can be famous in the dawn of reality television shows that we have nowadays. Valerie Solanas, a member of Warhol's circle, shot the pop artist in the same year she released the SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men) Manifesto
, a pamphlet describing why men should be systematically removed from the society. Warhol never recovered the shot he took, after which, he concentrated on making experimental films. Warhol passed away after a gall bladder surgery in New York, late February of 1987. Even in facing death, he said, "I never think that people die. They just go to department stores."
One of the best-known works of Warhol is the Marilyn Diptych
. It portrays fifty reproductions of Marilyn Monroe's face - half in color, the other half in black and white. I find this as a symbolism of a certain presence and absence - the presence of colors during the glamour of Monroe; and the absence of colors after the death of Marilyn. It is interesting that such an artwork has a "religious" touch to it since diptychs are altarpieces reserved for saints and the holy. It somehow elevates the image of Monroe to sainthood - worshipped and looked upon with reverence. It gives attention to the public image of the actress and not to her personality, a focus on the superficial rather than the substance. Warhol used a print-screen printing technique, so he can reproduce the picture several times. This gives focus on the process of how celebrities are but manufactured items. It is also to note that the artwork started with colored images of Monroe, and as you pan to the right, the color shifts to black and white, and further on fades.
I think Warhol was not only showing his artwork as a finished product of a great craft but rather, he wanted us to see the process of making such artwork like the Marilyn Diptych
. This is a work of art coming from a man who calls his studio a "factory." This is a man who thought everything is but a commodity, and he did well on showing this through his work and his lifestyle as well. Even if one does not believe in Warhol's ideals and philosophies, one cannot deny him of utmost respect, as he led his life accordingly to what he thought was right. He was not only successful in showing his artworks commercially, I do not think this was his point, but rather he wanted to get the idea across that we live in a world where everyone can be idolized, for we are but manufactured and molded products according to the norms and standards of the society. We live in a place where everything can be done and be commercially flourishing if we follow a formula that is based on an image the public demands.
Andy Warhol is known until today because he used subjects - Campbell's Soup Cans, Coke bottles and Marilyn Monroe - that are still known today.