It All Began With A Mug
Growing up in a boring, small Bavarian town in Germany, about 15 minutes away from the Czech Republic, it had become kind of a Sunday routine for me and my mum to drive across the border and buy some cigarettes for her, some sweets for me and some cheap fuel for the car.
On one of these rather eventless Sundays, I must have been about 8 years old, we ended up browsing through the small shops surrounding the Vietnamese markets behind the border check. That's where my mum bought an Andy Warhol mug. It had a pink background with a series of Marilyn Monroe faces on it. I don't know and I don't care whether or not this mug was in anyway authentic. What matters to me is the vivid memory I connect with it.
When we arrived at home that day, I was arguing with my mum because I didn't like the new mug. I didn't think it was pretty. From my perspective at that time, the colours were all wrong. I liked the pink background and Marilyn Monroe but why would anyone paint her face green and her hair yellow???
My mother simply replied that the portray of the actress was created by a famous artist and that she thought it was cool. There was no further explanation necessary, after all it was just a mug. From that point on I was vaguely intrigued.
Still, I probably would have preferred to see a 'normal' photo of Marilyn on that mug instead of the 'distorted' Warhol version... and yet, the fact that someone had become rich and famous by making pictures of other famous people, painting them with the 'wrong' colours, kept me thinking for a long time. I was also wondering for whatever reason my mum was convinced that this mug was a nice thing to have. Now I amuse myself thinking about the difference between 'me now' and the little girl back then. How can we be the same person?
My mum started using the mug for her morning coffee and I remember that, although I never particularly liked it at first, I became accustomed to having it on the table. Plus, I simply assumed that, given the fact that the guy who made Marilyn look like that was an artist, there had to be something about these portraits that I simply didn't get. This was my first encounter with Andy Warhol's art.
We still have the mug.