Warhol’s way of art
The definition of art is ambiguous. Some would say it’s a beautiful or accurate representation of reality. Technical skills are much appreciated and viewed as a high attribute in the process of creating art. For decades, the salon set the standards in the Western art world, the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. However, art is of course more than an exquisite expression. It goes far beyond skills and craftsmanship. An embodiment of this conception is Andy Warhol. With his art, he wanted to go beyond the idea of pretty. Warhol’s aim was to express the other side of the mass media and pop culture. Warhol created extraordinary art, contradicting the myth that art is mostly about skills and craftsmanship.
Warhol’s painting, Gold Marilyn Monroe, is a great example. The canvas was made after Monroe had passed away. She wasn’t part of the process of creating the portrait and it wasn’t commissioned either. Andy Warhol used a press photograph from a movie, the Niagara, which he cropped to only get her face. He surrounded her head with gold. Warhol’s piece is everything but conventional. It’s a pastiche of how the world views her, a view created by the media. Visually it’s not a pretty picture in a sense. The colour gradients and linings are sloppy and, and the linings are inaccurate. It looks as a bad quality print. The portrait almost evokes a grimly feeling in the observer. Warhol’s intention was indeed to depict an impersonal version of Marilyn, to imitate the mass media image of her. A fake smile, her blond hair turned into yellow and her skin became pink. Behind it, a sad and miserable person. Warhol shows the indifference of the mass media with this painting, and expresses the exploitation of a person to feed the public’s insatiable hunger. It shows a superficial image, with no concern for the person behind the celebrity. An image used just to sell a product.
“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.” – Andy Warhol
The painting is provoking in several ways. It raises questions regarding the meaning of art. It also raises the question regarding the importance of technical skills and craftsmanship, as it seems like Warhol never even touched his own painting. The photograph he used for this portrait, isn’t made by him. His assistants did a lot of the work, such as making the screens for the printing process. Warhol’s purpose behind all of this, was to show that art is about expressing ideas in visual language, and that it’s not just about skills and craftsmanship. His criterion for art concerns the philosophy behind a piece of work. Whether the work is made by the artist is not relevant. It’s all about the artist’s vision, his mental instead of his physical involvement. Therefore, it seems as if Warhol never touched this portrait except to put his autograph on the back.
Questions regarding the definition of art, are indeed ambiguous and thought-provoking. In his iconic work, the world finds Warhol’s answer to this question.
By Pooja Guptar