Andy Warhol (Universe of Art)

Colacello, Bob

Published by Universe Pub.
ISBN 10: 0789300869 / ISBN 13: 9780789300867
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Synopsis: Andy Warhol first found success as an award-winning commercial artist in New York. He soon put the commercial techniques he learned as an illustrator to work in his now-famous studio, dubbed the "Factory." Appropriately enough, the artist once said, "I want to be a machine, " reiterating the commercial, serial themes displayed in his paintings. Surrounding himself with a notorious coterie of assistants - from drifters and junkies to musicians and "poor little rich kids" - Warhol installed himself in his Factory, which itself quickly became New York's most famous counter-culture nucleus. Ghostly pale and silver-wigged, Andy Warhol has become an icon himself, an impenetrable enigma who became one of the most singularly identifiable figures of the turbulent sixties. And while Warhol's work may be best known for its stark reflections of popular and commercial culture, the artist did not hesitate to explore some of the more sinister traits of his era - from war and criminality. His grainy images of highway accidents and his serial panels of the handgun or the electric chair seem to drown emotion while at the same time recovering some of the shock power lost in the media's trivialization of disaster. Warhol's work has been called both naive and sophisticated, thought-provoking and mindless, superficial and profound, and the furor he created refuses to die down - more than a decade after the artist's death. This book explores the paradox of Andy Warhol's life and work with flair and intelligence and brings all the vibrance, humor, and genius of his work into full view.

Review: "There will always be a pre- and a post-Warhol," writes Philippe Tretiack, "and that post-Warhol period is having difficulty establishing itself." There also will always be people who consider Andy Warhol's work to represent the beginning of the end of serious cultural life in America. A flagrantly commercial antihero of the gay, big-city subculture, Warhol offended in so many ways. His cheerful, absurdist pop images of Campbell's soup cans, Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and the electric chair made serious subject matter with serious meaning a thing of the past. Everything Warhol did made serious film, painting, drawing, or printmaking look slightly silly. He flaunted his disregard for the pretensions of the fine artist, calling his studio "the Factory," churning out multiples, and publicly insisting that his work could be fabricated by practically anyone (until it was pointed out to him that this would significantly lower his prices).

In an excellent essay in the front of this small book, Tretiack places Warhol historically and esthetically, hitting all the high points of Warhol's flamboyant career and stylishly discussing the legacy of this '60s bad boy. The rest of the book is full of pictures--mostly Warhol's more famous images, but also some snapshots of Andy. Missing are a few pictures of Warhol's graceful, elegant shoe drawings and recipe illustrations, showing the kind of fine-art facility with which the artist began his career. But the rest is packed in here in all its flashy vainglory, including the green-tinged picture of a smiling Tricky Dick Nixon with the hand-lettered admonishment "Vote McGovern." At the end of the book are a brief chronology and a list of captions for the plates. --Peggy Moorman

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Title: Andy Warhol (Universe of Art)
Publisher: Universe Pub.
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Good

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