To compare Andy Warhol to artists like Duchamp and Jackson Pollack would be difficult, since Andy Warhol’s pop style of art falls into its own category. He doesn’t highlight a certain mood or a certain fantasy, but instead it is a rather accurate representation of everyday objections. Such as the Campbell Soup Cans mentioned in the reading. Together with some of his other works like, Marilyn Monroe, and the electric chair he creates this blank canvas with mundane objects for others to project their own interpretation and imagination onto his work. I believe the beauty in Andy Warhol’s art comes from the simple and normal subjects he points out through his work.
Even one of his earlier creations wasn’t an idea of his own. The idea of doing the paintings of Campbell’s soup came from a friend, which the idea he paid 50 dollars for (THOM 5). Meaning that his inspiration mostly comes from others and what surrounds him. His reason for releasing this painting of the Campbell’s soup was to capture the “essence of nothing” (THOM 7). Many critics found the lack of a meaning in these paintings frustrating (THOM 9). But I believe he was trying to represent the lack of attention in society, and how you can find beauty in the geometry and colors even in such ordinary objects like the Campbell soups cans. I think this is what Warhol meant when he said “I feel I represent the U.S. in my art” (THOM 9). That people in society, cannot see past the can of soup as a can of soup. They fail to see the symmetry and commonality of the cans. Someone on the other side of the world, might have the exact same can but in a completely different situation. The idea of multiple interpretations is one he allows in his art. Another popular piece that possessed this trait was Marilyn Monroe’s portrait.
Again, Warhol picked someone everyone would be familiar with, a movie star. But in this picture he is representing Marilyn as a “movie star rather than an individual” (THOM 10). In the author’s words “the image is a blank, something which we can project our own thoughts and fantasies upon” (THOM 10). Warhol wanted her to become a symbol, a standard for beauty. Through the reinforcement of color in the main features of Marilyn, Warhol has successfully stripped of the identity behind the painting and made Marilyn Monroe an icon that will last forever. Warhol’s later statement “My painting’s just about entertaining people” made me wonder if his whole goal was to evoke an emotion in his art.
If his ultimate goal was to evoke an emotion, I feel like his later work “Big Electric Chair” is a perfect example. The image itself is meant to show the sense of horror and death, but we can see that the chair is empty (THOM 29). This goes back to the idea that he is trying to create a blank slate for us to project our own interpretations on it. I would think that he was trying to show the irony of how we kill people to teach other people that killing people is wrong.
Throughout many of Andy’s works, the simplicity and minimalism is what leads to their popularity. Through the “Campbell’s Soup”, “Marilyn Monroe”, and the “Electric Chair” we see that one common thing Warhol likes to do is to choose a rather normal subject, one that might stir up mixed emotions in society. As to the question to weather he is a thinker, observer, or vacuum. I believe he is all three because he only chooses the images around him that might produce the most controversy or the most agreement. Overall, Andy Warhol is very different from some of the other artists I’ve heard about. Many other usually have a set moral or message to get across to the audience; Andy’s paintings carry a kind of freedom that other art doesn’t.
1) What do you think Andy Warhol is trying to say in these three images?
2) Do you think this is considered original art?