Nov 11, 2011

REVIEW | Andy Warhol: Pop Art Painter | Susan Goldman Rubin | Abrams Books | 2006

Andy Warhol: Pop Art Painter by Susan Goldman Rubin

You know occasionally you get into those arguments. Those arguments that you can't afford losing, the ones you actually feel like you "use" your college education. I was out on a hunting trip ( father son event i can't stand, so I get drunk through out it). My dad's friend Johnny was out there, and he asked me who I thought was the most influential artist of the 20th century. He said Picasso, which is a great answer that can be argued about for days. I confidently said Marcel Duchamp, and he looked at me like I was crazy. I explained Marcel's "Fountain", and how that showed people that art was in the hands of the artist. Art can be anything that the artist chooses. He of course didn't want to here that, and my cousin just so happened to walk by and say " isn't art everything?" I looked at Johnny and said " You see art can be anything, it's in the hands of the artist." He agreed and I felt accomplished with myself.

I walked across the campfire to see my cousin. He didn't realize it, but I was in debt to him. I asked " why did you say that?" and he replied in that eleven year old tone " well you know that colorful can stuff, those cans.... oh you know those Campbell Soup Cans" and I said " Warhol?" He looked at me and his eyes lit up " Yea i love that guy, cool colors."

It was there that I realized that Andy Warhol is still in our culture. He is still very influential in our contemporary society and it seems like he will never go away.

In Andy Warhol: Pop Art Painter , the book helped reinforce the notion that Warhol, even twenty years after his death, is still effecting the art world. The aesthetics presented in his work, the themes, and media used are still influencing artist and consumers. Ideas of "fame", corporate motives, and "branding" are all notions that Warhol picked up on. He is known for saying things like " I'm a very superficial person" or " I like boring things" but his art work is far from that. It is a social critique on our lives. It's almost like Warhol knew what made us tick. It's not just a print of Coca-Cola bottles, its the idea that a poor man and a rich man can both drink a coke, and no matter what those cokes will taste the same. There's a beauty in that concept.

The book does a wonderful job in combining Warhol's life to his work. The two pieces of art work I would like to focus on are Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans and Marilyn Diptych. The reason I chose these two was primarily due to the fact that both images share a deep connection to Warhol's life and most people simply enjoy the way the look and have no sense of meaning behind them.

Campbell's Soup, Andy Warhol

The Campbell's Soup Cans was very significant in Andy's life. He came from a very poor area in Pittsburgh, and usually his mother would make tomato soup out of boiled water and ketchup. Occasionally they had Campbell's Soup and Warhol, even at a young age was mesmerized by it. Campbell's Soup mimicked the movie stars he admired in that they were both a "brand". Something that was well known, a stamp on our brains. Like Michael Jackson, Campbell's Soup was no longer just an object or thing, it was a icon. Something that in our capitalist society sells. Sells because we are accustomed to it and are "devoted" to it.

Marilyn Diptych, Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol also came from a highly religious family. His brothers and parents would walk three miles to church every Sunday. Being a Catholic, Warhol was always surrounded by religious icons as a kid. In Marilyn Diptych, Warhol was able to look back at his past, while commenting on the future. Marilyn is seen as a "brand" like Campbell's Soup and Coca-Cola. Human society has replace the religious icons with these brands. A "Diptych" is an object with two flat panels. This object was used during ancient times in the church to depict religious saints. Marilyn Diptych plays off this tradition, and allows Andy to show the effect that pop culture has on society. This concept is as relevant today as it was then. We are flooded with media surrounding celebrities. Everyone wants to be a star. Social media is now a huge part of our lives and as consumers we can never have enough. I think we can blame Andy Warhol for that one. He put so much importance on "celebrity", that without him, would we be so obsessed with it?

The art world has changed due to Andy Warhol. Yes, figures like Duchamp told his audience that art could be anything, but Warhol showed that art was everything. He would later become his own "brand" and later an "icon" and his influence will always remain.

As the night died down, everyone packed it in. My dad began to make his tent, and the rest of the guys fell asleep in their trucks. I stayed up, keeping the fire going, while thinking about art. What was it to me? What do I want to get out there? Why is it so important? And with all the seriousness in the air I couldn't help but giggle.In my argument Pablo Picasso was dismantled by " that color can stuff " and I think Andy Warhol would have got a kick out of that.

-Luke Cisneros


  1. I like how you told a personal story while you were contemplating the meaning of the book you read and comparing it to Any Warhol. I think maybe you could have mentioned that Warhol used silk screening alot, because that is why all of his depictions of soup cans and Marilyn Monroe's all look the same, yet don't look the same. He would apply different pressures to each screen, which is why if you look at all the Marilyn heads in a row, some have more ink on them and some have less, but the image is exactly the same. I took a silk screening class, and have much appreciation for people who do this for their livelihood because you have to use your whole body, and it can take a very long time to produce an image. I remember my professor in this class not one time mentioned Andy Warhol, which kind of makes me think maybe he wasn't that influential to the silk screening world, but more to the consumer world, like you said.

    -Katrina Runge