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How Andy Warhol Changed The World

Warhol’s Elvis. His Mao. His Marilyn Monroe – and how we see now.

A portrait of Elizabeth Taylor by Andy Warhol from Elizabeth Taylor collection is shown in Moscow's GUM department store. (AP)

A portrait of Elizabeth Taylor by Andy Warhol from Elizabeth Taylor collection is shown in Moscow’s GUM department store. (AP)

Andy Warhol made icons of icons.  With his silk screen and more, the inscrutable artist of the everyday and the celebrity went after Campbell’s Soup cans and Marilyn Monroe, Coke bottles and Jackie Kennedy, a Brillo pad box and Elvis.

And Mao.  Liz Taylor.  Marlon Brando.  An electric chair.  A car crash.  And then himself, as pop icon.  Affectless face.  Big blond hair.  All surface.  Andy Warhol changed our sense of art, and maybe how we all see the world.

This hour, On Point:  the powerful legacy of pop icon, artist, Andy Warhol.

-Tom Ashbrook


Peter Schjeldahl, art critic and staff writer at the New Yorker, he reviewed the new Warhol exhibit for the magazine.

Marla Prather, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Her newest exhibit at the Met, curated with Mark Rosenthal is: Regarding Warhol, Sixty Artists, Fifty Years.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New Yorker “The show, assembled by the curators Mark Rosenthal and Marla Prather, combines forty-five works by Warhol with more than one hundred by sixty other artists, including Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Cindy Sherman, and Jeff Koons. The show invites comparisons between Warhol and the artists he inspired and provoked. Born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, in 1928, Warhol was a “clairvoyant” artist; he sensed and eventually embodied the populist revolution of the 1960s by adapting the formal syntax of Abstract Expressionism and as chassis for vernacular imagery, and then, definitively, with his silkscreens. ”

L.A. Times “Christie’s will sell a trove of art by Andy Warhol over the coming five years or more, with the proceeds going to significantly boost the grant-making power of the works’ present owner – the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.”

The Daily Beast “A Warhol has the inherent peculiarity of a rock that happens to look like a toad; it never has the contrived oddity of a melting clock. If an umbrella and a sewing machine really were to come together on an operating table, without anyone there to arrange the meeting, you’d be faced with something truly Warholian.”


Check out this gallery of photos from the exhibit “Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years” at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Here is Andy Warhol painting singer Debbie Harry in 1985 on an early personal computer.

Here’s a video of Andy Warhol eating a hamburger.


“Andy Warhol” by David Bowie

“Movement 8 & 9” (from the film Kiss) by John Cale

“Hello It’s Me” by Lou Reed and John Cale

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  • JobExperience

    Andy’s factory film studio experimented with porno art (Trash, Frankenstein, etc.) and that really impressed me in the 70s. Porno now is ubiquitous but almost always lacks redeeming cultural themes. Andy f**ked life in the liver with positive effect. It awakened me anyway to the manipulative uses  of the human subconscious.

    I have a chilldren’s book about Uncle Andy visiting his brother’s junkyard in Pittsburgh and interacting with nieces and nephews. Charming!

    There is a high contrast between Warhol’s artistic interests and his personal lifestyle. I’d like to hear that aspect discussed. What kinda feller was he really?

  • http://twitter.com/TweeterSmart b smart

    better soup labels 

    • JobExperience

      Better soup even

  • geraldfnord

    Keys to the man:
         An incredibly strong work-ethic certainly rooted in his coal-mining town background.
         His uncomfortableness with both his own homosexuality and with his rejection even by other gay artists…before the soup labels, his work was realistic, more sensual,…and rejected.
         His commitment to his faith.

    I think that these lent a ‘slumming’ aspect to his involvement with the Mole People and the rest of the Factory crowd, it’s not as if he were a shiftless libertine indulging other such…or maybe he was just fascinated by people that different to himself.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Cultural decay is a common affliction in many societies.  What astonishes me is that anyone still pays attention to this man.

    • JobExperience

      Why people appreciate Andy’s work:
      They see in him aspects of themselves.He was a master consumer.
      His successful creativity caused him increasing personal anguish.
      Celebrity killed him.

      When Greg Camp photocopies none of these conditions are met because Greg is at heart a aesthetic conformist and most likely a bottom-feeding consumer. (I’ve screen printed and it is a much more challenging type of photography than pushing a button. Film making is one of the most difficult arts and no motor skills are necessarily involved.)

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         Interesting how you can determine my aesthetic preferences and purchasing choices on the basis of one comment.  I dislike Warhol for exactly the reason that you appear to like him:  He was a master consumer.  I celebrate producers.

        And by the way, he died from complications following gall bladder surgery.

  • JobExperience

    What would have been the result if Warhol’s work had never been owned by the rich. Greg Camp labels Warhol “degenerate art” because he doesn’t grasp the frankness about how Andy revealed the mainstream as hollow. When people lose critical abilities society becomes stagnant. I am fortunate to be involved with a  handful of artists with the same frustrations as Warhol, searching  for the innovations that will help millions of us break out. But even in Warhol’s case commercialization poisons and disarms a good critique. Piss Christ can now be mass produced in China or Indonesia for pennies. 

    If you are the “next Andy”, contact us at Lindengallery@hotmail.com
    A better path exists.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       Art should elevate, not condone the hollowness.

      • J__o__h__n

        All art is quite useless.  – Oscar Wilde

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

           Except that it isn’t, as Wilde’s work shows.  His irony has a lot of value.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       I have access to a photocopier.  Does that make me the “next Andy”?

      • JobExperience

        Rejection below

  • Bill Bodge

    Warhol was mostly about advertising and marketing.  If you want to be a famous artist, you better be a great marketer.  He came out of advertising and used it to great advantage.  I think this quote embodies him best, ” If you want to be a famous artist, become famous and than become an artist.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Hearing Schjeldahl speak and then looking at his picture on the New Yorker site, I have to wonder if Warhol really didn’t die in the 80s, but in fact changed his name and became an article writer.

    • JobExperience

      Wouldn’t that be cool!
      Americans enjoy deception.

  • Saighead

    Still don’t buy it.  Still don’t get it.  SO many more interesting artists working on more interesting questions, fortunately.  “Has the whole culture in front of him” and yet that is so patently untrue: his focus on celebrity and “pop” culture amounts to an endorsement and celebration of the most facile, transitory, content-less fragments of “culture” while pretty much passing on  the more enduring, interesting parts of culture.  

    • JobExperience

      answer: accessibility

      • Saighead

         Apparently I find Warhol’s work inaccessible.  I’d rather spend time w/ Richard Long’s work, or Hamish Fulton, or any of a score of painters…

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Accessibility means what to you in terms of value?

  • Davesix6

    “But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow” – The Beatles

    • JobExperience

      We don’t carry that  product anymore, Sir, but we have a superb one of Bradley Manning.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Explain how copying someone else’s work in garish colors constitutes art.

    • JobExperience

      straw artist argument

  • J__o__h__n

    Religion is a much of a commodity as soup.

    • JobExperience

      Only thinner

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Fame is not a valid purpose of art.  Someone who aims at being famous as a primary goal is not fundamentally an artist.

    • JobExperience

      Tell Clint Eastwood

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         He’s created a lot of great art, and he strikes me as the kind of person who doesn’t care much about how people see him personally.

  • Adrian Tans

    A question from Adrian in Woodstock, VT:
    I am wondering if your panelists have anything to say about  someone many say was a forerunner and inspiration for Andy Warhol, a Catholic nun named Sister Mary Corita, who was active in LA in the 1960′s?

  • DinoScapelli

    The only reason Andy Warhol ever became famous is because people took him a whole lot more seriously than he took himself.

    Of course he didn’t answer questions about the social impact of his “art” in interviews: What could he say?

    The man was a trickster, a charlatan, a con man, and he laughed all the way to the bank to deposit money from self-congratulating suckers like your guests.

  • DinoScapelli

    The only reason Andy Warhol ever became famous is because people took him a whole lot more seriously than he took himself.

    Of course he didn’t answer questions about the social impact of his “art” in interviews: What could he say?

    The man was a trickster, a charlatan, a con man, and he laughed all the way to the bank to deposit money from self-congratulating suckers like your guests.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    “Cool” is a sloppy standard.

  • johnsloth

    No irony??? I must misunderstand the meaning of the word. Warhol seems the Godfather of Ironic Art to these eyes. Exalting the mundane. Like Dylan in the sixties, we bring the image to the artist while he sits bemused… or irritated by our inaccuracies. I’ve heard that the Welsh word for Liar and Artist are the same.

  • Davesix6

    Warhol seems to me to have been an ultimate free market capitalist.
    The notion he sold to the left being, that his oversaturation of pop culture was in fact an indictment of the same, is truely ingenious. Ya gotta give him credit for that.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    It’s not that the subject is too lowbrow.  The problem here is that I see no artistic talent.  He was a scrivener ad nauseum.

  • chasbosc

    Does anyone else Recall a 1 minute commercial Andy did for Coke that was just on image of a coke can for about 55 seconds and then had Andy at the end holding up a coke can saying, “Eat Coke.”

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MBNX2JOLAQ4NMNACS3ZC27YQA4 neon baptist

    When one of my professors “revealed” him as a devout religious practicioner (e.g., serving dinner to the homeless at his church every thanksgiving) my perception of all of his work was completely altered and I saw even his “secular” work in a very different, REAL life way.  The meaning of Warhol as “iconic” changes with that knowledge of the man.

  • Jon Creamer

    One of the best things I ever heard about Warhol and his art was at a lecture by the art critic Dave Hickey; Hickey said something along the lines of how Warhol wanted people to love his work, but that what was really going on is that Warhol loved people.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    We now hear the intentional fallacy.  I don’t care why the artist makes the work.  The work has to stand on its own.

    • J__o__h__n

      I find that that is my problem with a majority of contemporary art.  I can appreciate what the artist is trying to do but usually only after it has been explained to me.  It is often quite clever or skillfully made but without the explanation, I don’t appreciate it beyond that.  Even with the explanation it doesn’t move me. 

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Too true, that.

    • M Y Mim

      This firmly places you NOT a post-modernist.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         No one who knows me would ever call me a post-modernist.  I am in many ways ante- and anti-modernist.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/BKWADE6BP7RBHHHOLNK24NGUAE Optimus Prime

    Warhol is indeed iconic…of that there is little doubt, but I think your guests are confusing ubiquitiousness with greatness.

    The two are NOT synonyms.

    200 years from now Matisse will still be considered great.  Will Warhol?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/BKWADE6BP7RBHHHOLNK24NGUAE Optimus Prime

      It’s a good thing I’m not a politician, because I think the essence of human dialogue is the possibility to change one’s viewpoint.

      I think my view on Warhol thus needs some editing.

      While it is true that art needs no purpose other than to simply to BE…we, as a people, by the nature of our collective being, export our purpose into whatever art. And in doing so, art becomes MORE than images…it begets a power.

      If, then, there is any power that Andy Warhol paintings have, it is the power to make us reflect upon our own vision of our world…to see things from a different perspective…the world from a different pair of eyes.

      Perhaps THAT is the greatness of art…and for that I thank Andy Warhol and all the other artists that dare to put paint to canvas or pen to paper.

  • M Y Mim

    In 2000, I bought a print in Havana, Cuba, from a street artist selling in the great market. It appears to be the iconic Warhol Campbell soup can, but the label reads “Cuba’s Condensed Ideology Soup.” The photograph is of Che Guervara. The blue ribbon reads “America’s Favorite Revolution.” It’s brilliant. I paid $15 US for it.

  • Call_Me_Missouri

    OMG!  That Warhol quote was so funny!  I will need to listen to it when I need a good laugh.

  • Pingback: Andy Warhol, Shepard Fairey & Me — The Good Men Project

  • 228929292AABBB

    Really the quote ‘if you look at his paintings, there’s really paint on them!’ says it all.

  • Regular_Listener

    Was Warhol a great artist?  If you evaluate greatness in terms of success and impact/influence, then he undoubtedly was.  But if you look for evidence of creative genius and painterly craft, then well… I used to despise him for his celebration of fame for the sake of fame, consumer products, commercialization, and superficiality.  Shouldn’t art point the way to something better? But over time I came to respect him, if not love him.  If you read about his life, an interesting picture comes up… a lonely gay boy from a working class family who worshipped celebrities and glamour, a hard worker deeply devoted to his craft, and a manipulative voyeur who enjoyed seeing people flamboyantly self-destruct.  And of course you have to like his oddball, oracular statements like “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.”  That one has stuck around.  He was certainly a great public figure, a great game player and humorist, a great image-maker with remarkable insight into American pop cutlutre… but a great artist?

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