The Critical Response to Andy Warhol

By Alan R. Pratt | Go to book overview

landslide election of Reagan was therefore providential. The familiar combination of private opulence and public squalor was back in the saddle; there would be no end of parties and patrons and portraits. The wounded Horseman might allot $90 million for brass bands while slashing the cultural endowments of the nation to ribbons and threads; who cared? Not Warhol, certainly, whose work never ceases to prove its merits in the only place where merit really shows, the market.

Great leaders, it is said, bring forth the praise of great artists. How can one doubt that Warhol was delivered by Fate to be the Rubens of this administration, to play Bernini to Reagan's Urban VIII? On the one hand, the shrewd old movie actor, void of ideas but expert at manipulation, projected into high office by the insuperable power of mass imagery and secondhand perception. On the other, the shallow painter who understood more about the mechanisms of celebrity than any of his colleagues, whose entire sense of reality was shaped, like Reagan's sense of power, by the television tube. Each, in his way, coming on like Huck Finn; both obsessed with serving the interests of privilege. Together, they signify a new moment: the age of supply-side aesthetics.


NOTES
1.
Andy Warhol's Exposures, by Andy Warhol (Grosset and Dunlap, 1979); POPism: The Warhol Sixties, by Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980).
2.
The Jewish Museum, September 17, 1981 to January 4, 1981.

John Richardson, "Andy on the Move: The Factory Factor", House and Garden 155 ( July 1983): 90-97.

Andy Warhol's moves tom "Factory" to Factory, as he calls his studios, have been reflected in abrupt changes of style and subject. In this respect, if no other, he reminds me of Picasso, whose successive "periods" were likewise triggered by domestic change. True, a change of mistress as opposed to studio, but then the former usually involved the latter.

Warhol's famous shoe advertisements for I. Miller conjure up memories of the Lexington Avenue brownstone that the artist shared with his mother in the late 1950s. Later ( 1962), when he started painting his breakthrough Coke bottles, Warhol moved (his studio, never his sacrosanct living quarters) to an old firehouse on East 87th Street. Within two years, however, the lease expired, and the artist was once more obliged to relocate, this time to a grimy industrial

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