Tuesday, February 14, 2012

All about Andy

As promised, Andy Warhol is here as the fourth iPad portrait in my series of famous New York City artists (he follows Whitman, Woody, and the Fitzgeralds). Famous for the mysterious, incredibly removed persona that he wore for so much of his career, Andy is still regarded as one of the foremost leaders of the pop-art movement, undermining traditional fine art conventions with ideas of manufacture and celebrity--the artistic merits of which critics are still debating.

Known primarily for his arresting, unapologetic images of a commodified America--from soup cans to famous faces--Andy also produced a great body of film work in his "Factory" studio in New York. Much of it deals with the arguably self-destructive regulars of the Factory (leading some to call into question the ethics of Andy's documenting them; but then again, I suppose it's fitting that reality TV should have a precursor in Andy). In their camera angles and content, the films definitely lean toward the more "inaccessible" realm of medium, but much like Andy's work on canvas, his work on celluloid is hard not to watch.

For Andy's portrait, I wanted to present a man who spent his artistic career reflecting the public rather than channeling himself. He (or rather, his persona) has been quoted saying "I'll be your mirror"---the reflective glimpse he offers being of our own media-crazed, celebrity-obsessed preoccupations. And so I worked to make Andy as compositionally in-your-face as I could, emphasizing not his pallid, expressionless visage, but the inaccessibility of it. Andy's glasses deny us any view of his eyes, reflecting instead the hyper-commercialized world of Times Square around him. (The multiplicity of Cola signs as reflected in his glasses also serves as a nod to the multiplication of images employed in his screen-printed work). The pallor of his face is both arresting and remarkably shallow--there is little physical depth to his ghostly figure, fitting for an artist who was determined to be persona rather than person. And so, in a painting that's all about Andy, we actually see very little of him. We confront instead a constructed figure who is both product of and response to his time.

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