Friday, February 21, 2014

The boredom of Andy Warhol.


You are probably familiar with the format of celebrity crib shows: somebody rich trudges a camera crew around their over-sized mansion for a ego boost and a voyeuristic trill on the part of the viewer. I don't remember anything about this particular show except in the mist of typical luxurious finery, the host boosted 'and here in the hall is my Warhol.' I can't even recall the name of the host but I still remember the Warhol kitsch incongruently hanging in the elegant hall.

Warhol's appeal baffled me because his work is utterly bland. But as it turns out, that's the whole point.

Andy Warhol was a superstar during the 60's known for his pop art mass produced by a ménage of porn performers, drag queens, socialites, drug addicts, and musicians, who became known as the Warhol Superstars. (Pop art is an art movement employing aspects of mass culture, such as advertising, comic books and mundane objects.)

Warhol's center themes are the boredom of modern life and the impossibility of personal meaning. His art normally consists of a cultural icon repeated several times in different shades. A typical example is the famous image of Marilyn Monroe staring soullessly out at the viewer like a photoshoped magazine cover; a flat empty image of the person she once was.

His life philosophy was, in his own words, a 'looking for nothingness.' He sought to abandon the romantic search for individualistic meaning by instead embracing boredom and meaningless until all emotion and desire, including boredom itself, was forgotten. Then he would be content:
I've been quoted a lot as saying, 'I like boring things.' Well, I said it and I meant it. But that doesn't mean I'm not bored by them. Of course, what I think is boring can't be the same as what other people think is, since I could never stand to watch all the most popular action shows on TV, because they're essentially the same plots and the same shots and the same cuts over and over again. Apparently, most people love watching the same basic thing as long as the details are different. But I'm just the opposite: If I'm going to sit and watch the same thing I saw the night before, I don't want it to be essentially the same - I want it to be exactly the same. Because the more you look at the same exact thing, the more meaning goes away, and the better and emptier you feel. 
He rejected individualism which paradoxically made him more individual. However if Warhol sought to drain meaning by representing a bland image over and over, then, yeah, he nailed it.  But why oh why would anybody hang it on their wall? Being rich is not excuse enough.

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