Beyond the Pop Art

In Andy Warhol’s book, America, he focus on expressing his own ideas about The United States of America. As a Pop Artist he talks about the day life aspects, one example is how America lives focusing just in the present. Americans are so busy that they cannot think of anything else, just in the now. This way of life expanded with the years, it is stronger than was in the sixties as well as the media. The media has the power to dictate what people should eat, what they should wear, even how they should live. It is not coincidence that with the years more people want to be famous than they wanted 40 years ago. Today, the media create an image of how great the life of a celebrity would be. Behind the screens, they show a perfect life, a life that make other people (non famous) want to be like them, to chase a life that they see on the screens, because everything that is showed is so great and perfect and just can be better, never worst. Warhol declares that “no matter how perfectly someone’s got their public personality going, it’s never as good as their real life” (28). Warhol critics it but also admire it. Pursuing this fantasy, people stop to make plans or thinking about how their life was before they start to focus just in make the TV life style becomes their life style.

This desire of live the now can be seen in pop stars lives too. Through the years the celebrities may lost their fame in the area that they were famous, so they decide to switch for another area. Warhol gives Grace Jones as example, “she was a model, then a singer, then a nightclub entertainer, and now she’s an actress” (33). These changes may happen because more medias are emerging, they need more news, more famous people to talk about. It is easy to see that this strategy continues nowadays. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an example of it. He started working as a professional bodybuilder, he won the Mr. Universe title, after it, he started a new carrier as an actor and become known in whole world. A few years ago, his area of work changed drastically and he became the governor of California in 2003. He was never out of the spotlight.

Warhol critique goes beyond this power to mold people lives, the media can consume your dreams too. In the past, the television did not show the world the way they show today, so people dreamed more of how some place would be, but nowadays people do not need to open their door to know what they will see outside. If you want to see how the Amazonia rainforest is, you just need to turn the TV on in the National Geography Channel. If you want to visit a city you can search online how is the place. However, there is some people that still wanting to go and see with their own yes, but you can be sure that it will not be the same as if she/he see this place for the first time in their lives. Television and internet bring a lot of different kind of information, people just need to change the channel.

About the fact that media can take you to places that you don’t know yet, Warhol says “I think the more information you get, the less fantasy you have” (11) and “the mystery and romance of the faraway places are pretty much gone” (10). The media can influence the way of life of everyone even the celebrities, and this influence is very important because it molds our way of life, and this criticism is present in Warhol’s art.


1 – Is this book America just an away that Warhol found to express his own thoughts and show the “America” or criticize the Americans way of life?

2 – There is two picture of Michael Jackson in the book, why do you think that he chose these pictures and didn’t talk about them?

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6 Responses to Beyond the Pop Art

  1. Janice says:

    To answer about Michael Jackson: Warhol’s “America” was published in 1985, right after the conclusion of the Jackson 5’s “Victory Tour” in the latter half of 1984. The Victory Tour was a brief reuniting of the Jacksons after Michael Jackson left to pursue an immensely more successful career, and the tour only increased tensions between him and his brothers, which led to him being alienated from his family for most of his life. Despite the private conflicts, the tour was successful by the audience turnout to see the pop star whose “Thriller” was then topping music charts.

    Warhol may have included the pictures of the Jacksons -where Michael Jackson is always separated from his brothers, by sitting on the end of a row or by having a photo separate from his brothers’ group photo- to implicitly link his statements about the disjunction of public and private lives back to other high-profile cases that readers would be familiar with. Michael Jackson could have a debilitating family situation, but he extraneously presents his public personality as a successful, charismatic pop star.

    I liked your relation of Schwarzenegger to Warhol’s concept of the “Renaissance” public persona – someone who is active in multiple public aspects to maintain their spot in the media’s focus. There seems to be a confluence of actors and models and singers, who all then go into clothing design or perfume lines or other everyday-consumable products …just to remind the public that, yes, they continue to be a thing worthy of attention.

  2. cekarri says:

    Andy Warhol’s America is a way to critique the way of life of Americans as well as showcase what he views as America. He uses many examples to show how different the way of life is now, like you mentioned in your article about how people can just turn on the television and see whatever they want to see such as an Amazon rainforest. I believe he is correct in saying that people no longer need to have big imaginations because all they have to do is turn on the television and now search something online. Many people do not even know how to use their imagination in this day in age because there is simply no need to. I think it is amazing how the world is still so much the same as it was in the 1980s with regard to how everyone wants to be a celebrity, and how celebrities themselves just switch careers to remain relevant.
    I believe he chose the two pictures of Michael Jackson but did not talk about them because at the time this book was released Michael Jackson was more than just an iconic singer, he was a popular in the headlines, current musical superstar. There was really no need for introduction at the time this book came out for Michael Jackson, he was automatically recognizable (and continues to be today).

  3. Lydia says:

    At first time I saw this piece of writing by Andy Warhol, the word ‘ubiquitous’ came to my mind above all. We can find everything everywhere. Possibly it is the natural outcome of the situation that modern Americans just think about the present. It may sounds like nonsense, but everything is everywhere, so we can find everything everywhere, even if it is a past or a future. And it makes people busier – they are all thinking about the present, the present is the most important, thinking about the present again, and thinking about other things is beyond their power! Of course it is a tendency of the current world; but in that time America was a kind of a pioneer of modernity.
    To interpret as I understood, Andy Warhol has focused on the dualism of American society. I think he wanted to both express his ideas and criticizes America. He thought America is really beautiful; on the other hand he does not. But fair words please the conversation. Maybe he just wanted to show how America is, and let people perceive themselves. And to be frank, still I am not sure whether he is an observer, a vacuum, or a thinker. It depends.

  4. Eunsol Shim says:

    I thought that he made the book to show the ‘America’ with his ideas. Some parts of the book included criticism on the U.S but it does not feel that negatively rather he accepted the reality of the U.S calmingly. I saw an irony on the part talking about homeless after the fantasy of “America”. He is seemed like to show the reality of the country by just putting compared text. Also, he repeated word (coke) while introducing the democracy of mass production. It efficiently shows the feature of mass production and the U.S, but he never actually concluded on something. In that way, he made people think about it and he just suggest few ideas.
    Michael Jackson is also an image of mass production. Therefore, I thought that his image is not different from Marilyn Monroe or even Coca Cola. It is just one of the images that represent the “America”. Therefore, the specific explanation is not necessary work on his book because it can harm the overall idea of his book.

  5. kekoh2013 says:

    I think your reading response is very interesting. And I think Andy Warhol seemed to express his own thoughts and satirize American lifestyle on the basis of what he saw at that time. The mass media such as TV and journals spread because of the structure of capitalism that was mass-produced and mass-consumed and there were many commercials in the 1950’s. In this climate, many rising stars appeared. Especially, Warhol often made rising stars a drawing material as the motif. I think he ridiculed the desire and hypocrisy of a consumer society through pop stars who was manipulated by media, hid behind the popularity and fame and got stained with anxiety and loneliness. Also, he criticized dual view points of the public and illusion of media that instigated twofold criteria by showing the life of pop stars that was directed by the image the public wanted. Pop culture is like commercial culture that was mass produced for mass consumption, manipulated the public and was consumed passively with paralyzed and insensible state. Accordingly, Americans steadily got accustomed to bulk production and our thoughts and lifestyles were mass-produced and standardized without respecting respective individuality at that time. I think Andy Warhol seemed to be rather like a critic of the American way of life through his artistic works.

  6. sho5ko17 says:

    I liked how you give Arnold Schwarzenegger as an example of famous person switching for another area. I believe many famous celebrities are trying to get in the spot light to get attention by doing these switching. Getting attention is their job, and I sometimes feel sorry for them. They always need to be perfect and make people think that they have a wonderful happy life. I think Andy Warhol had similar feelings with me, so that is why maybe he admire and criticize the celebrities at the same time.

    For your question about Michael Jackson picture, I think Warhol wanted to just show the picture of one of the most famous pop star’s life without explanation to make the reader make their own intention. One picture is Michael Jackson dressed up in his gorgeous shiny performance costume that looks like a perfect pop star. Another picture is him in his childhood, dressing pretty normal, and looks like any other boy. Looking at these pictures, I think Andy Warhol admires how that little boy became a popular pop star that has a lot of attention from media. However, I feel Andy Warhol is also mentioning how those attentions are making Michael Jackson needs to look perfect all the time.

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