Wednesday, 9 November 2016

# 446

Today is a sad, sad day. Without further comment, I will just quote from Warhol's diaries:

Wednesday, May 2, 1984:
And I just hate the Trumps because they never bought my Trump Tower portraits. And I also hate them because the cabs on the upper level of their ugly Hyatt Hotel just back up traffic so badly around Grand Central now and it takes me so long to get home ($6). 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

# 444

... 3 years ago today, Lou Reed passed away. In his long career the quality of his music may have varied from time to time but I still think he was one of the most gifted song writers of the past century...

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

# 443

How lucky can a girl be??? I tell you how lucky: I just got myself a ticket to see John Cale perform the first Velvet Underground album live in Liverpool, to celebrate its 50th anniversary. 

If you are a VU fan, like me, you want to get these tickets quick. I have a feeling the event will be sold out soon.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Saturday, 8 October 2016

# 441

"When I die I don't want to leave any leftovers. I'd like to disappear." --- Andy Warhol

Sunday, 18 September 2016

# 440

Friday, 16 September 2016

Thursday, 15 September 2016

# 338

Monday, 22 August 2016

# 337

It was my birthday last week and I went to Amsterdam to meet up with some friends of mine and to see the Warhol/Banksy exhibition at the Moco. In general, I have to say I was shocked about the prices for museum tickets in Amsterdam (most of them don't even offer a student discount), so I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Moco ticket was 'only' 10€. I went there at about 10.30am on Sunday and was happy to see that there was no line in front of the building (unlike the VanGogh Museum). This rapidly changed while I was walking through the exhibition. There is definitely plenty to see but the rooms aren't very big so only 30min later, it was starting to get crowded and a line at the ticket counter had developed after all (therefore my advice is: go as early as you can). 

The Banksy works alone were definitely worth the money, although I always find it weird to see his stuff exhibited in galleries rather than 'bumping into it' on the street. However, as we all know, I was really there for the Warhols, which were located downstairs. Most of the works there were familiar to me, Marylin, Liz, Jackie, his shoe drawings and the Cow head. Still, there were a few works I encountered for the first time, for example a large flower sketch/drawing, a Donald Duck screen print from the 80s and a black and white female nude print. What made the visit really pleasant was the environment in which the works were exhibited. The Moco building is an old villa with beautifully decorated windows and ceilings. The posh interior certainly would have been to Warhol's taste, I believe, and while there were the usual labels and CCTV signs there were no tense museum guards watching your every step. And you are allowed to take photos!

By now, I know enough about the strict rules of the Warhol Foundation to not share all of my private photos of Warhol's works here on this blog, but it is nice to have some souvenir pictures for once. All in all, I can say that I have come another step closer to my (unrealistic) goal to see all of Warhol's works on this planet (unrealistic because 1. a big part of them are in private collections and 2. because it would probably take two lifetimes to travel to all places that show Warhol's work,  3. because I don't have the cash). Speaking of cash: while strolling through Amsterdam with my friends, I also saw a lot of galleries selling Warhol's paintings and I went into one of them out of sheer curiosity. Having only one glimpse at the price label made me feel dizzy. If I suddenly became filthy rich, I'd probably want to buy one of the Death and Disaster paintings (once again: unrealistic!), but for now visiting as many Warhol exhibitions as I can is already expensive enough.

P.S.: The day before I went to the Moco exhibition, me and my friends got tickets to the Stedelijk Museum for 15€ each. I don't know why there are no student discounts available but if you are a Warhol fan like myself you will still pay the price to see the black and white photographs by Warhol and one Death and Disaster painting. 

Saturday, 6 August 2016

# 336

Monday, 1 August 2016

# 335

Sunday, 24 July 2016

# 334

"Warhol is thus truly null, in the sense that he reintroduces nothingness in the heart of the image. He turns nullity and insignificance into an event that changes into a fatal strategy of the image." --- Jean Baudrillard, The Conspiracy of Art

Monday, 18 July 2016

# 333

... I haven't posted anything in quite a while and it's really sad that my first post since May is about Billy Name passing away. The man greatly responsible for the iconic silver look in Warhol's factory has died at the age of 76, according to Art News.

It appears that he had been unwell for quite some time so hopefully he found his peace now.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

# 332

For the second time this year, I went to Paris last weekend. This time to see the Velvet Underground Exhibition at the Philharmonie de Paris. After hearing a praising review on Deutschlandradio Kultur I was extremely curious to see whether the exhibition delivered what was promised. I can say, I was not disappointed! It combines all of my great passions: the Beat Generation (Alan Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac), Andy Warhol and the Factory years, the New York City Punk movement of the 60s and 70s and, of course, the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed. It was such a great experience to finally have all of these themes converge in one space! Being greeted by a recital of Ginsberg's America poem at the entrance, things got even better in the following show rooms.

The exhibition allows the visitor to dive into a multi-media experience including videos, audio recordings, wall texts, vitrines, installations and, most importantly, a hang out space where one can lie down and watch video clips taken in Warhol's Factory, while listening to Velvet Underground songs and interview bites. A lot of factual information about Lou Reed's, John Cale's and Nico's biographies is set in relation to insights into the environment in which the Velvet Underground members met and the creative atmosphere in New York at that time. Even though the review I heard on the radio had emphasized that the show was less about the band's collaboration with Warhol and focused more on the time before and after his brief involvement, as a Warhol enthusiast, I was happy to find that the largest exhibition room was nevertheless entirely dedicated to the Factory years. For example, photos of the Velvets and Nico were combined with a video that Warhol shot during a Velvet Underground performance in Boston. The video, which was only discovered in 2006 and which shows the audience dancing in front of the stage, was screened next to a section on Candy Darling, one of Warhol's beautiful superstars, who, amongst others, inspired the lyrics of Lou Reed's famous song Walk on the Wild Side

After leaving the exhibition, I once again ended up buying some souvenirs at the gift shop. In this case, my purchase was truly a matter of the heart though. Almost hidden in the corner of the book shelf, I discovered the Best of Punk Magazine catalogue.This book, to me,is a real gem in so many ways and I feel like I should explain why: 

When I was growing up a book titled Please Kill Me was really important to me. As an uncensored oral history of punk, it already does what the exhibition in Paris picked up on: it draws the connections between the early US punk movement (think Ramones, Patti Smith, Dead Boys, New York Dolls, etc.), Warhol's marginal involvement in it and the beat writers, like Ginsberg and Burroughs, who not only influenced the music but who also were regulars at Warhol's factory. This book really made me fall in love with the the punk music of the 60s and 70s and it  also fed my obsession with Warhol, which had already started when I was a teenager.

I have read Please Kill Me about 10 times and even though my copy is really ragged by now, I keep lending it to people who I hope will appreciate it as much as I do. The author, Legs McNeil, was one of the founding members of Punk Magazine and I remember spotting him in the crowd  when I was at the Joey Ramone Birthday Bash in New York City, in 2012. At the time, however, I was too chicken to actually ask him to sign my copy, a mistake I would regret and not make again if I had a second chance. 

Anyhow, what is so great about me buying the Punk Magazine collection is that, so far, I had only been able to find excerpts of the single issues online and never actually looked for hard copies on sale. I knew that some of the magazine covers were really cool, for example the cover of the first issue with a comic drawing of Lou Reed of which I also happen to have a T-Shirt, and I knew that Andy Warhol was featured in some of the photo comics (as a mad scientist who gets eaten by a monster, how cool is that?!?!) but now I can actually browse through all of the issues (well at least the best of them) for as long and as much as I want and I will always have a wonderful reminder of the great time I had at the Velvet Underground exhibition in Paris. 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

# 331

In the process of some final editing of my paper for the Graduate Conference at my Department, next week. Jeff Koons and the German language are heavily featured :-p

Friday, 6 May 2016

# 330

Trying very hard to focus on my paper for the Graduate Conference at my department, this month, but my brain won't let me... arrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhhhh!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Thursday, 14 April 2016

# 328

One of my all time favourite quotes:

"One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you're into jazz." --- Lou Reed

Monday, 11 April 2016

# 327

Had the pleasure to attend a very insightful talk by Gary Needham (Nottingham Trent University), today! The Topic: "Hustling Minimalism: Screen Performance in the Films of Andy Warhol". My résumé: There is sooooo much I still don't know about good old Andy! But I see this lack of knowledge as a challenge to continue collecting and accumulating all things Warhol. 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

# 326

Saturday, 9 April 2016

# 325

"It is interesting to note that Marcel Duchamp, who was centrally involved in the earlier Dada movement with his infamous 'ready-mades', became venerated by New York postmodern trans-avant-garde artists in the 1960s. Here we detect a double movement. In the first place the direct challenge against the work of art, the desire to beauraticize art, to dissemble its sacred halo and challenge its respectable location in the museum and the academy. There is also the assumption that art can be anywhere or anything. The detritus of mass culture, the debased consumer commodities, could be art (here one thinks of Warhol and pop art). Art was also to be found in the antiwork: in the 'happening', the transitory 'lost' performance which cannot be museumified, as well as in the body and other sensory objects in the world. It is also worth noting that many of the strategies and artistic techniques of Dada, Surrealism and the avant-garde have been taken up by advertising and the popular media within consumer culture (see Martin, 1981)." --- Mike Featherstone on the aestheticization of everyday life in Consumer Culture and Postmodernism

Friday, 8 April 2016

# 324

It's almost a week ago that I was on my way back home from the BSA PG conference in Southampton and, instead of heading straight back to Liverpool, I made a pitstop in Oxford to see the Andy Warhol exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum

Truth be told, I wasn't in the best mood that day. The train to Oxford was freezing cold and I was generally exhausted by a weekend of deep philosophical thought. I wasn't as excited about the museum visit as I had anticipated. Then again, Warhol, arguably more than any other artist, is often considered the master of superficiality, so I entered the exhibition thinking 'I'm just gonna look at the surfaces'.

Of course, my plan to escape the thinking machinery in my head was eventually  thwarted  because some of the works in the exhibition were truly stunning and completely unknown to me. I was, for example, unfamiliar with Warhol's gigantic map paintings of the former USSR (1985-86), or the Handprint paintings (1982), or the small portraits of fellow artists Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist and Frank Stella (all made in 1967).

The painting I liked the most was that of a female torso (1977) or, to be more precise, a female crotch. It struck me as extremely elegant and subtle, considering the fact that it was showing one of the most intimate areas of the female body. In comparison to the male version, which was hanging around (pun intended!) the corner and which depicts a large penis in a bright, pinky flesh colour, the female version is rendered in white and grey shades. But the different colorations of the paintings weren't the only thing I noticed.

The female model (in contrast to the male) had shaved off her entire pubic hair thus not only granting the spectator unobstructed visual access but also seemingly referring back to statues of female bodies in which pubic hair is usually omitted. This made me think. Apart from the connection one could draw to ancient statues, the lack of hair also evokes associations with the relentless, close up depiction of genitals in pornography. Obviously, in these circumstances pubic hair is shaved off so that the viewer can see each and every inch of the copulating body parts, showing them in full arousal. Just like in the painting, porn actors are anonymous too (at least in most cases) and the penis or vagina gain importance over the rest of any other body parts (unless you watch a specific fetish porn maybe).

So, yes, one could say that there is something pornographic in the female torso painting, too. This is in many ways not surprising given the fact that Warhol (especially in his films) mingled porn and art all the time. However, there is more to it, I think. This painting also provides a look onto female sexuality from a very detached perspective which is far removed from the horniness of porn. Since Warhol was gay he looked upon the female private parts from an entirely different angle than a straight man would do. While I think that he really had a curiosity for the female sex in as far as he was intrigued in its otherness and the sensuality that is so often associated with it, he wasn't interested in any form of physical contact with women.

It appears to me that some of the elegance of the female torso painting stems from the fact that it may be one of the most neutral looks upon a female crotch that one may possibly get. As a woman and a feminist, I often find myself getting angry at the fact that so many depictions of women in museums and galleries go back to a very traditional 'male gaze' which is always looking at women with a specifically male eroticism. This is not to say that Warhol's torso painting is not possibly arousing for straight men. Yet, there is a certain 'coolness' about it which is, in my opinion, opposed to the 'hotness' one could for example associate with Gustav Courbet's The Origin of the World. 

Despite the fact that Courbet chose to portrait his model's crotch with a full bush, thus covering up parts of the labia, his painting shows a lot more than Warhol's work does. Especially considering the time in which it was created, I wouldn't be surprised if some men used this image for some heavy masturbation (not saying that there is  necessarily something wrong with this). Courbet's work simply reeks of male fantasy. The spread legs, the genitals clearly in the foreground of the painting, ready to be penetrated. The woman as a powerful spring of life but only if the male phallus enters, conquers her. Otherwise the power she has is simply that of generating male arousal which is (we all know it) really just a brief moment.

Warhol's portrait of the female torso is more distancing. It does not necessarily render female sexuality as something liberating or empowering (or give an insight to the way women perceive their sexual desires) but it doesn't beg for male arousal and penetration either. Whoever the model was, she clearly had a beautiful body and two cute beauty spots right beneath the belly button. Yet, if someone from a different universe would look at this painting without the 'human sex drive' they may just take pleasure in the shapes and shades of this artwork rather than its 'content'. I guess Warhol was in many ways 'alien enough' to provide us with this view.

In the end, the exhibition did lighten my mood and I ended up with booty: the catalogue (for only ten pounds!!! special offer on that particular day, lucky me) and the book On & By Andy Warhol, edited by Gilda Williams.

P.S.: Now that I'm reading through this post again, I want to do research on the topic of pubic hair in the depiction of female bodies through the course of art history. If no one else has done this yet, I call dibs on this idea!!!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

# 323

Thursday, 31 March 2016

# 322

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

# 321

"I just paint those objects in my painting because those are the things I know best." --- Andy Warhol

Sunday, 28 February 2016

# 320

One stumbles upon Warhol references EVERYWHERE ... for example, in Birmingham...

Monday, 22 February 2016

# 319

Andy Warhol died 29 years ago today. His New York Times Obituary sums his life up pretty well... Needless to say that his legacy is still with us!

"Mr. Warhol's keenest talents were for attracting publicity, for uttering the unforgettable quote and for finding the single visual image that would most shock and endure. That his art could attract and maintain the public interest made him among the most influential and widely emulated artists of his time."

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

# 318

Philosopher Noel Carroll on his late colleague Arthur Danto and on Andy Warhol...

Sunday, 14 February 2016

# 317

"The symptom of love is when some of the chemicals inside you go bad." --- Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

Monday, 8 February 2016

# 316

Saturday, 6 February 2016

# 315

"In short, according to Danto the difference between the Brillo Boxes  that are art and the Brillo boxes that are mere real things is that the former are about  something: art. Remembering that the role of art is self-inspection, the Brillo Boxes  are (to put the point briefly and inadequately) about the fact that art can be deadpan and mass produced rather than unique and deeply expressive. The Brillo boxes, in contrast, are not about anything at all: they are merely boxes for storing and transporting household products. Danto is giving us an account of the content of a work of art: that is, what we need to understand if we are to understand a work of art. Danto would agree that if one was faced with the Brillo Boxes and one did not know anything about “the atmosphere of artistic theory [and] a knowledge of the history of art”, one would not understand them. It would be as if one were in some foreign country and faced with an inscription on the wall of a church in a language with which one was unfamiliar. In such circumstances, one simply does not have the resources to understand it; it will remain there in front of you, enigmatic and beyond your comprehension. This, thinks Danto, is the position of the traditionalist when faced with avant-garde works of art; it is not that the works do not mean anything, it is only that the traditionalist lacks the resources to understand them." --- Derek Matravers, Introducing Philosophy of Art

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Saturday, 23 January 2016

# 313

Very true... 

"It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop." --- Andy Warhol 

Thursday, 21 January 2016

# 312

Last Saturday, I visited the Andy Warhol Unlimited exhibition at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris. I had been excited about seeing this show for a while and even the fact that I had to pay the full ticket price, because the student discount is only available until the age of 26 (boooo!), couldn't dampen my enthusiasm. One of the reasons for my excitement originated from reading the information about the exhibition provided on the museum's website. It announced that the show included Warhol's Shadow paintings, which I had never seen before. 

Since the Shadows, created in 1977-78, are comprised of 102 large-sized silk-screen paintings, I imagined that it was not exactly easy to find an appropriate exhibition space to show all of them simultaneously. Yet, fortunately for the visitor, the Musée d'Art Moderne was able to provide a vast enough setting for this series of artworks to develop its full aesthetic force. To be frank, the whole experience of seeing all paintings in one single space, hung consecutively one after the other, is  monumental to say the least. Yes, Warhol loved over-sized paintings and, yes, he did (of course) not shy away from seemingly endless repetition. But to encounter these 102 paintings in one big sweep is mesmerizing in so many different ways. 

First of all, the philosophically minded viewer will make immediate associations with Plato's famous cave allegory. Being in an exhibition space together with these paintings makes you feel like being in a white-walled cave without sunlight and with unreal and undeterminable shadows everywhere you look. No links to the outside 'real' world. Only  a multitude of vague depictions of an unknown object's shadow. The fact that it cannot be determined what kind of object it was that cast the shadow which Warhol used as a model, leaves a lot of room to your imagination. One cannot help but wonder: What is it that you are looking at exactly? And: Are these shadows even real? Maybe it is just the repetition of an indefinable, imagined pattern that does not even have a photographic source? And then the use of pitch-black against more or less radiant colors... there is simply something very eery about the whole work. 

Furthermore, while walking along the walls you also notice great differences between each single painting. At some point, you realize that this series of shadows is far removed from the numb repetition of the very same image, as it is the case in Warhol's Jesus Portraits for example. Each and every shadow painting is somehow unique. You notice the great variety of colours and the texture of lavish brushstrokes which appear sometimes more, sometimes less pronounced. In this sense, the entire work is so Warholian and yet so un-Warholian at the same time. Obviously, there is nothing more typical for Warhol than using repetition, silk-screen printing and photography in his work. Still, the Shadows are somehow different... not just because of their sheer size and quantity but also because of their non-representational subject matter. Usually Warhol depicted things clearly and just the way we ordinarily see them. No obscurities, no question marks. What you see is what you get. The Shadows however seem to be his very own way of breaking away from that... briefly venturing into the world of abstraction. Of course, Warhol experimented with Abstract Expressionism in his Oxidation Paintings, for example, and his Rorschach Paintings are certainly a detour from his usual style, too. However, none of these works have the same range and magnitude that the Shadows have

Maybe Warhol is once again having a big laugh at us for coming up with so many associations and interpretations when the whole subject of the Shadows might be just as meaningless as that of his Soup Cans or Brillo Boxes. How would we know? Is it even relevant? In the end, everyone will have to make up their own mind and evaluate what they see for themselves... or not. In any case, if you are in Paris at some point before the 7th of February, go see the exhibition! If the Shadows haven't spawned your interest, maybe the Silver Clouds will. They certainly are a lot of fun to play around with (see below). 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

# 311

... during my weekend in Paris, I went to the Musée d'Art Moderne to see the Andy Warhol Unlimited exhibition... and I had the best time playing with Warhol's Silver Clouds again! 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

# 310

Last night, I came back from a wonderful trip to Paris...

Amongst other things, I ended up tracking down Jean Baudrillard's grave at the Cimetière de Montparnasse where many illustrious people (like Sartre and de Beauvoir) are buried. Thanks to an article published in Baudrillard Now (by John Armitage) I had been warned that the grave wasn't easy to find. Contrary to Sartre and co., Baudrillard is apparently not considered 'important enough' to be listed on the cemetery's map for finding famous people. So I had to rely on Armitage's report and photos to find the place...

After running around comparing the photo of the grave in the book with my current location and constantly matching my perspective with that on the photo, I actually stood in front of the rather scruffy looking grave of Baudrillard... the philosopher and cultural theorist who has written so much about Andy Warhol and the disappearance of art... 

Without a tomb stone and with lots of plants growing wildly and naturally, I thought that it may have been Baudrillard's wish to leave his last resting place 'uncultivated' and, in that way, a bit eccentric. After all, Baudrillard often said that he was suspicious of culture and art:
"For me the most important Americans were Pollock, Andy Warhol - whom I've always considered something of a master - and a number of others that I like a lot, but for whom I have no special affinity. I have a rather primitive knowledge of the fine arts, and I've deliberately maintained this slightly primitive attitude. I'm instinctively suspicious of everything which is aesthetic or part of culture as a whole. I'm something of a peasant or a barbarian at heart, and I do my best to stay that way. For example, when I'm asked to do something for television, I'm always more interested in the passive magic of its image, rather than the active magic of its production." --- Jean Baudrillard, Baudrillard Live: Selected Interviews 
In the end, I left him a personal note which I wrote on a Warhol postcard I had purchased the day before during my visit at the Musée d'Art Moderne which currently has the Andy Warhol Unlimited exhibition on display (more about that later) ...

Monday, 11 January 2016

# 308

Once again, a legend has left this planet... I was so shocked when I heard the news this morning that, for a second, I was short of breath. It is unbelievable... just like Lou Reed's death took me by surprise, Bowie's did, too. Maybe even more so. Who knew that he was sick? He really managed to keep his private life private. Good for him!

When I try to remember the first time I was confronted with anything Bowie, I think it was the movie Labyrinth. I was still very young at the time, maybe 4 years or so, and (just like E.T.) it scared the crap out of me and I grew to dislike the film and I never even watched it again. Now the time has come to give it another try. I will make it my business to finally re-watch the Labyrinth as an adult (???) and evaluate it without my previous bias. I feel like I owe it to the film and maybe a bit to Bowie and his performance in it... 

Goodbye, Ziggy! You are missed already!

Saturday, 2 January 2016

# 307

"I just happen to like ordinary things. When I paint them I don't try to make them extraordinary. I just try to paint them ordinary-ordinary." --- Andy Warhol 

Friday, 1 January 2016

# 306

Happy New Year! 
... as a reward for my hard work on my recent paper I've treated myself to a little belated Christmas present... 
Very happy with my choice! :)