Winter News

The other day I went to an Andy Warhol exhibition. I’m not really a fan, but there’s no denying his place as a 60s/70s icon. Before the exhibition, it was never very obvious to me that he had any particular artistic talent – I mean in the hand-eye and rendering sense – and the exhibition didn’t really alter my opinion of that. His methods of painting and printing are not particularly challenging. However, what does come through clearly is the artistic idea – the idea which is undeniably and iconically his. Through his work you see Andy Warhol as a man fatally attracted to celebrity, fame, fortune and consumerism. But at the same time you see a man repelled by it and repelled by his own attraction to it. His work is a product of contradictory ambivalence. At the same time as his pieces elevate and spotlight the rich and famous, they also cheapen them, reduce them and mass produce them. He worships the elite and then reduces them through mass consumerism. It is this idea, rather than any cleverness in rendering, that so perfectly captures the era of Pop Art, and which will forever be identifiable with 60s and 70s culture as projected by Warhol.

The Warhol exhibition makes me think about our own era. We live in a period that is no less identifiable, with its own idiosyncrasies. We live in the information age, of instant news and contact, of immediate networking, of the ten second attention span, of the personal digital device. What we have not yet seen is the artistic idea that uniquely captures the essence of all this and projects it back at us in a way that future generations will immediately identify. The artistic icon of the information age is still missing. The artist is still waiting out there somewhere to be discovered…..

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