Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shoe Box

If there was ever an artist that was brilliant at combining art and commerce it was Andy Warhol.  His bread and butter from the late sixties until his death were his "celebrity portraits".  (No, not Liz Taylor or Elvis, or Marilyn.  He made those for art. Besides, Marilyn's death inspired that series. I saw this one a few years ago. ) 

No, I'm talking about all the others. Screen prints of celebrities and monied people made from a Polaroid picture, he charged $25,000 for the first portrait and $5,000 for each additional one. Which in today's dollars translates to almost 100 grand.  

A bargain, really.  

I can't remember now exactly what started my Warhol binge, but for a couple of years I read every book about him I could get my hands on.  He wasn't a nice man. He was a workaholic that tended to take advantage of those around him--use them and throw them away.  From the very beginning, even before he made his transition from commercial artist to a fine artist, he had people in his posse do work for him for free.  Many of his earlier works were actually completed and signed by his mother, with whom he lived for years. He was a media whore obsessed with money and fame; he had amassed an estate estimated at half a billion dollars at the time of his death.  He didn't strike me as a particularly happy man.  

And yet I've always had an affinity for his art.  I find it fun and whimsical and accessible. Well, accessible on museum walls anyway.  I certainly couldn't afford any of his originals, which ironically makes them not accessible at all as art should be.  So I satisfy my cravings with accessories like this and consolation prizes like these.  I keep telling myself I'm going to jaunt to Pittsburgh and see his museum there, but I've yet to go.  

Because he was a lover of technology and reproduction, I imagine he would have adored the iPhone and in particular the Hipstamatic and photo booth applications. (I made myself use the "random" mode for this particular picture today.)  And hey!  There's a Warhol app!  I would download it, except I'm fairly certain he had no pivotal moments in his life that occurred in Oklahoma. ->

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