Andy Warhol: America is Really Beautiful

Everyone can have his or her manifesto of America. But Andy Warhol, as a pop artist, gave a total different and negative manifesto of what is America. In his opinion, America is really beautiful, and is nothing but beautiful.

He expressed his negative feelings through several things. Mass Media breaks people’s fantasy of faraway places. Politicians are just working to make goods for their own. Public opinion of being poor is always criticizing, leaving no room for real creation and innovation to grow. Modern technology is destroying the living environment for human being, free stuff are making things meaningless and homeless people is everywhere, “America” name is proudly used for the united states and mass consumption is making everybody equal, and the concept of “now” taking up all the thoughts of people’s minds, giving no opportunity for people to think about the something really, really far away.

It’s really interesting to see how Andy view the world in a totally different way as we do. How we interpret the world is by what we see, and how we relate the things together to be a total image. Andy was growing up in a immigrants family from Carpatho-Rushyn. It’s a pretty unstable status because of the different culture background between his family and the outside American world. Inside family, there were frequent religious ceremonies. Outside in America, there are endless things waiting for him to explore, among which movie, a special form of mass media which convey meanings through visualization. Like Andy said, “they show you what to do, how to do it, when to do it, how to feel about it, and how to look how you feel about it.” This interpret of movie decides his feelings about America, everything is based on what they see. I think this is also the reason Andy is so obsessed with art study. He went to Carnegie Museum of Art to study art. He got a camera at 9 and used it to make great photos. Besides what the outside exerted to him, his neural problems also lead to his unique view of the world. He got choea and hypomelancholia at very small age. At that time, he drew a lot, which is an important period for Andy to connect his own “images” and “words ” together to form his own manifesto of America. This manifesto still remained in his minds until when he goes to Carnegie Mellon University and got a master degree in poster design. This gave him a job in poster design, a job which joins art with money. Andy mentioned that an ideal world should be “okay to work on things that they won’t pay you for, because that’s how inventions happen and things progress.” In contrast, this society is “putting a price tag on intelligence and talent”, not respecting poor at all. In this way, Andy’s images of America are always about what he saw, not containing any deeper meaning.

Discussion question:

1. What do you thing of Andy’s meaning by “America is really beautiful”? Does he really things that America is beautiful?

2. See page 11 of the reading. Why did Andy put Aphrodite into American fashion clothes?

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3 Responses to Andy Warhol: America is Really Beautiful

  1. hollywen says:

    Firstly, I think that “American is really beautiful” is a satire. He does not think America is beautiful in deed. What he wants to express may be that America seems to be beautiful, but it is not fantastic at all. America looks beautiful because it has various goods and entertainments, and its celebrities look gorgeous and charming. But many of its people lack the genuine attitude toward lives and full respects to the poor. I think that Andy Warhol has a very unique angel to see the society. What he regards as great things are “poor but honest”, not the advanced techniques, rapidly increasing economics, and large amount of consumption. What he puts importance on is not the beauty on the surface, but the fulfillment of one’s inner part.
    Secondly, I have different opinion to your idea that “Andy’s images of America are always about what he sees, not containing any deeper things.” Many people think Andy Warhol is a vacuum, but I think he is a thinker. I think he has a clear idea and thought to American society in his own mind, but he express it in an obscure way using daily things and popular celebrities. I think it is his way to convey his idea, rather than meaningless.

    • wuyue2004101 says:

      Thanks for your comment! They are really helpful.
      However, I think I need to clarify on one point.By “meaningless” I didn’t mean that he just views America in a superficial or say, shallow way. I think Andy sure has his own thoughts of America, and they are clearly expressed in “America”. However, I think through his image, he don’t give any deep meaning on purpose. He just want to exhibit America, about the world around him. I think he want to express that don’t give any specific meaning to my image. That’s my interpretation of “meaningless”.

  2. whlam2013 says:

    I think Andy does mean beautiful when he said America is beautiful. Because take for example in the section of his book about getting freeloads, he did describe it as a great thing. He never criticized the system, but merely made suggestion for the government. According to Andy Warhol, with three conditions one can get free stuffs, a right attitude, right cloths, and being clean. But because the poor can’t meet these conditions, he gave a plausible solution. This is why I don’t believe he is being satirical.

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