The Enduring Fame of Andy Warhol

Warhol’s influence on society has steadily grown in the two decades since his death in 1987 and has yet not reached its zenith. Warhol’s ideas were “far out” during his lifetime but are coming more and more to resemble life as we know it. Over the course of 30 years, more and more people have understood that Warhol’s
art opened up opened up a territory as large as the world itself: a large and fascinating universe including Hollywood stars, Coca-Cola bottles, underground movies and music, mysteries and terrors, humor and wit.

Tom Armstrong, the first director of Pittsburgh’s Warhol museum, describes the “Pope of Pop” as a key figure in contemporary culture: “More than any other figure of his time, Warhol challenged our way of thinking about art. Andy was a painter, a sculptor, a graphic artist, a filmmaker, a music producer, an author, a publisher. The scope of his creative activity was extraordinary and it touched on the entire range of popular culture”.

In the foreword of the book “Andy Warhol Portraits”, American art historian and curator Robert Rosenblum stated that this was only the beginning of the story: “Warhol quickly emerged as a leader of the Pop Art movement. His work provided an instantly intelligible chronicle of what mattered most to people, from the dead of Marilyn Monroe to the ascendancy of Red China.”
Rosenblum compares Warhol’s art to a March of Time newsreel: “An abbreviated visual anthology of the most conspicuous headlines, mythic creatures, personalities, movie and music stars, tragedies, artworks, even ecological problems of recent decades. Everything and everybody is here – with infinitely more speed and wallop than a complete run of New York Times on microfilm: airplane crashes and volcanic eruptions, electric chairs, President Nixon, and the Thirteen Most Wanted Men, giant pandas, the hammer-and-sickle, transvestites, Santa Claus and Raphael’s Sistine Madonna”.

Warhol’s greatest gift was probably his observational ability. From his ubercool stance as the silent watcher, Warhol took it all in and saw it for how it truly was.
Warhol’s art reflected the contemporary culture of the United States, and therefore of a world culture that was coming more and more under the American influence. He addressed the changes brought about in our society through mass productions and mass communications in a way that was daring and yet instantly accessible.
By creating artworks inspired by consumer goods as Coca-Cola bottles, Heinz boxes or Campbell’s Soup cans, Warhol presented the world with genuine philosophical challenges.

For the first time in ages, painting was addressing the world at large, and the world knew it was being addressed. But there was a second level to the mass media controversy: not what Warhol painted, but how. Some of his first Pop artworks were made by hand and showed evidence of great skill.

In his later works, Warhol’s hand became less evident. To produce his pictures of Marilyn and Elvis, he made silkscreens print of photographs, which he colored with the aid of stencils. This method offended art critics who wanted to see traces of the artist’s personality on the canvas, or proof of his hard work. But that objection seemed to miss the point.

Warhol had adopted the methods of mass production to make images of celebrities who were themselves mass produced. Marilyn Monroe existed not only as a flesh-and-blood person but as millions of pictures in magazines and newspapers, on album covers, movie screens and film posters. She was infinitely reproducible.

Warhol also understood America’s fascination with celebrity. The “celebrity concept” had an incredible impact on American culture and it quickly became the N°1 topic for Warhol and the Pop Art movement. By becoming a true celebrity himself, something that hadn’t been done before by any US artists, Warhol invented a new approach to America’s fascination with fame.
Andy Warhol’s life is a great example of somebody who courted fame and publicity, achieved it, yet never really gave much away about his “real” personality. Just as is the case with Coca-Cola’s secret formula, the public was really fascinated by the high level of secrecy Warhol managed to surround himself with.

Warhol had been obsessed with fame ever since his childhood when he collected autographs from stars, but what fascinated him the most about the subject was the difference between truth and reality in the world of Hollywood. Warhol subscribed to the postmodern concept of truth as a subjective value and adored the tabloids. In his book “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again”, Warhol talks a lot about fame: “A good reason for being famous is so you can read all the big magazines and know everybody in all the stories.”
Warhol even created his own magazine in 1969, Interview, which he claimed he started so that he and his friends would always be invited to the movie premieres and best parties. And of course, starstruck as he was, Warhol always liked to hang around with the popsingers, actors & actresses or other superstars.

Warhol’s most famous quotes are on the subject of fame and the fifteen minutes he felt everyone would get. When he made this statement, it may have sounded like a throwaway soundbite but fact is that in today’s world of cross-genre multi-media, obsessive celebrity madness, reality TV with it’s non-stop “new star” bombardments, Warhol’s philosophy has never been so closely felt.

Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame run on …

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Delicious & Refreshing

In this video, you can see a compilation of the early Coca-Cola artworks – always delicious & refreshing!

For over 120 years Coca-Cola has made it’s impression on the advertising profession. As a true pioneer, Coke has continued to stay a step above normal advertising, and has always seemed to be able to `key its advertising to the mood of society’.

The first marketing effort was made in 1892, with a budget around $11,000, which was a great amount to be spent on advertising in that age. With that money, Coca-Cola hired sales men to travel around the country to promote the product for Soda Fountain owners to buy. In order to do this, Coca-Cola offered the fountain owners free merchandise such as decorative clocks, porcelain fountain urns, prescription scales, prescription cabinets, and showcases, all of which displayed the Coca-Cola name. They also handed out sample coupons so that people could try Coca-Cola for free.
Some years later the Coca-Cola advertising budget reached $500,000. In 1909, Coca-Cola was considered the best advertised article of the year.

Source: AmeriCola (Susie Derkins)

Andy Warhol Exhibit

A traveling exhibition of select Andy Warhol artwork is now on display in the Pop Culture Gallery at the new World of Coca-Cola, Atlanta, US. See the world’s most recognized beverage as interpreted by the pope of Pop Art. The paintings, pencil sketches and screenprints (all about Coca-Cola except for a self-portrait) are on loan from the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh (up to May 2008).
“Warhol took art and he made art available to the everyday man and everybody understood it,” tells Ted Ryan, the exhibit’s curator for Coca-Cola. “Everybody owns a piece of Coke, or a piece of Marilyn, at least in the imagination.”
World of Coca-Cola: 121 Baker St., Atlanta, USA.
Website: www.woccatlanta.com

All images and artworks are property of The Andy Warhol Foundation © All rights reserved.

Andy Warhol, King of Pop Art

In the 1960s, Andy Warhol began to make paintings of famous American products such as Campbell’s soup cans and Coca-Cola. He switched to silkscreen prints, seeking not only to make art of mass-produced items but to mass produce the art itself. He hired and supervised “art workers” engaged in making prints, films, books and other items at The Factory, his studio. A lot of Warhol’s works revolve around the concept of American culture. He painted money, food, women’s shoes, celebrities, newspaper clippings and everyday objects. To Warhol, these subjects represented American cultural values. For instance, Coca-Cola represented democratic equality.

“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV ans see Coca-Cola and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.” Andy Warhol


While all colas are colas, only one is Coke!
Warhol & Coca-Cola fashion collection by Cultura.

When Warhol started painting, he wanted to find a niche for himself. At that time Pop Art
-as it was later to be called- already was an experimental form used by artists as an alternative to abstract expressionism. Warhol turned to this new style where popular subjects could be part of the artist’s vocabulary. His early paintings show images taken from cartoons and advertisements, hand-painted with added paint drips. He added these drips to give his paintings a seriousness by emulating the style of the abstract expressionists that were en vogue at the time. He wanted to be taken seriously and to sell his paintings.

Andy Warhol’s images have appeared in magazines, on TV, clothes and billboards. Everywhere. The visual impact of his best work is stunning: fresh colours, great composition and thought-provoking subjects.
Along the way, Warhol defined modern-day USA, consciously or unconsciously exposing the ambiguities of US society. The amount of material he produced is phenomenal: film, audio, paintings and prints, books and interviews.

Warhol’s subjects were quintessentially American. His 210 Coca-Cola bottles depict mass production for the masses. They are produced in 1962, shortly after his silkscreen innovations allowed him to mass produce pictures of mass production.

Warhol’s art is larger than life. He paints from a place far back in his mind, away from everyday ways of looking, although his subject matter is always ordinary and available. He paints real, humble things, so that they seem dreamt, visionary. “A Coke is a Coke”, Warhol said, and yet the even rows of bottles filled to varying levels in his Coca-Cola paintings are depicted with a clarity that pushes realism into a sense of wonder. These Cokes are mystical Cokes, bottled life.

Source: “Warhol – Accident & design” by Socialism Today; “The Life & Death of Andy warhol” by Victor Bockris. All images and artworks are property of The Andy Warhol Foundation © All rights reserved.

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