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! :)