Andy Warhol: Father Of Pop? Essay, Research Paper
Andy Warhol: The Father of Pop Art
Andy Warhol has spewed forth in many examples of the modern style that is known as “Pop art,” in various mediums -spanning from silkscreen to a cable network. Not only has Warhol greatly contributed to this revolutionary style, but also in many ways, he has created it. Andy Warhol’s style was certainly part of the select first that were even labeled as “Pop.” Warhol had also used the media, which captured his eccentricities, to his advantage and that aided in projecting Pop art to the public. Warhol’s timing had been perfect in introducing Pop. Warhol was even separated from the other Pop artists who were his peers because he was clearly doing different things with his subject matter. His continued success made Warhol the most recognizable Pop artist. That status combined with the fact that his ascendancy was as one of the first Pop artists even to be taken seriously, is what makes Andy Warhol the creator of the Pop genre Warhol solely the most influential person in it, as well.
Andy Warhol produced many Pop creations during his reign. Pop art is a style, which many artists were experimenting with during the fifties and names such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Claes Oldenberg began hanging their artistic works in galleries during the 1960’s. This style is defined as “a noun that is a realistic art style, especially in painting and sculpture using techniques and popular subjects adapted from commercial art and the mass communications media, such as comic strips, posters, etc.”
(Guralink, 1970-83, 1108) Pop art is not satirical, but forces us to look at everyday objects with renewed reverences; it may even only have meaning because it is not intended to make a statement. (Gablik, Russell; 1969, 22, 119) All of the art Andy Warhol sold or displayed was strictly “Pop.” He always displayed familiar items in a fairly simple matter; there was interest but the objects were so familiar, that when referred to as art, people were forced to see what they usually take for granted. Warhol’s prints and drawings embodied the meaning of Pop art.
Andy Warhol definitely had competitors in his realm of the art community. In fact, even though Warhol was the greatest figure in the Pop genre, he was not the first to make pieces of their nature. “Manifestations of Pop art have appeared throughout the world in France, Italy, Germany, and Japan, but it was not possible on this occasion to deal with it all.” (Gablik, Russell; 1969, 9) During Warhol’s time, however, Roy Lichtenstein was perhaps the man with whom Warhol had the most competition with, if such a thing existed in their relationship at all. Lichtenstein, although not as potently as Warhol, is still a fairly well known name to people who do not even study art in depth. Lichtenstein was a recognizable Pop artist of the sixties as well, yet was noticeably different from Warhol in technique. “While Roy Lichtenstein is now recognized as a refined, ironic, serious manipulator of found images, Warhol has refused to redeem the mundane side of his art.” (Ratcliff, 1983, 8) Because he displayed many of his objects in a more disturbing manner, “?Warhol looked more and more like it’s (Pop) leading
strategist.” (Ratcliff, 1983, 7) Despite the many others that were quickly falling into the category of Pop art, Warhol managed to produce the most sought after images, if even for their infamy. Then instead of many styles befitting to Pop, the label Pop Art began expanding to fit the many creations that were otherwise undefined, but had obviously followed Warhol’s lead in style. The newer Pop artists seemed so reflective of Warhol. He himself was quoted as saying, “These kids were doing what we had been doing years ago.” Though these others were dubbed as Pop artists too, it was evident that Warhol had typified the style, and was the first to succeed. All of the artists that wanted to be know as “Pop” were influenced by Warhol’s popular displays so that he had been showered in such publicity, his “eccentricities” had faded to novelties and images (not to be misinterpreted as the subject matter) he had introduced are still familiar today. Warhol had surpassed his rivals. “Warhol has been the most skillful exploiter of the media in the whole of the art world that I ever remember.” (Carroll, Lucie-Smith, 1973, 156) Warhol, in using publicity in an intelligent manner, had manipulated it to his advantage, and because of this, people became aware of Warhol and what he was doing to the standards in art. This skillful manipulation of the publicity gave Warhol the power he needed to continue his entreprenuership of his style in art, for now people were awaiting his next move. “[He was] the coolest of the Pop iconographers.” (Kramer, 1973, 538) Certainly
critics were recognizing Warhol as the leader of Pop art, and he was even gaining
attribution with more regular people in the mid-sixties, for his work was being exhibited at galleries presiding all around Manhattan. One of the reasons for Andy Warhol’s popularity is because he used the media to propel himself above the others.
Another reason Warhol was the first Pop artist whose career was truly of significance was because of his inventive style. The first few to be christened as “Pop” were oddly experimenting with very similar ideas, however, Warhol’s were more blatant and disturbing. Lichtenstein did large prints of comic strips, whereas Warhol’s comics had blank faces or violently jagged edges with rugged, seemingly careless, dripping paint. While Andy Warhol’s Twenty Jackies were meant to show emotion, effect, and to reflect pain, Ray Johnson’s (another Pop artist of the time) stars were portrayed in a more ironic and picturesque way. For these things, Warhol even seemed an outcast of this small society of new artists. These almost irrelevant differences were what made Warhol into the famous Andy Warhol. Emile de Antonio, a critic and friend of Warhol’s saw this distinction as Warhol’s strength. “He [had seen] the future of American Art in Warhol’s impersonality.” (Ratcliff, 1983, 21) Before galleries would consider holding Warhol’s artwork, he had this certain edge to his style. ” Saturday’s Popeye (1960) for instance, never had a chance to look brand new in public, yet it is basic to the development of American Pop art.” (Ratcliff, 1983, 23) When museums laughed at Pop art and its creators, it was a meaningful piece just a few years later; one in fact that inspired the genre of Pop.
Warhol had introduced his specific stylistics, which had soon after become a phenomenon. Even though Lichtenstein had displayed work in Leo Castelli’s Gallery (the
first gallery to display Pop seriously) before Andy Warhol, it was Warhol whose popularity had soon boomed and he even became a scapegoat for critics of Modern Art, so every time he was blamed for something, Warhol was ironically gaining press coverage. Warhol’s displayed subject matter was attracting attention of everyone who was either enthralled or quite disgusted. Warhol had most definitely a very unique style, which made him easy to spot, and therefore achieved status.
Andy Warhol has certainly created the genre now known as Pop art. Even early in his career, “Within the Manhattan art world, at least, Andy Warhol was famous.” (Ratcliff, 1983, 26) This fame was because of his then awkward style and brash subject matter, which defined Pop. Andy also, perhaps by fate, happened to present these “Minimalist” creations to the world just as others were close behind him and headed in the same direction, so that the art community was forced to react. Warhol’s style made him so memorable and because it was inventive, helped to spawn the then newly deemed Pop art. Not only did Warhol lead this revolution, but he also influenced many that were brave enough to follow his initiative. When asked who the important Pop artists were, renowned critic Edward Lucie-Smith can not help but answer “The most important was obviously Andy Warhol.” (Carroll, Lucie-Smith; 1973, 156) Of course, for Andy lead the Pop scene, and defined its style. As Andy Warhol was clearly a Pop artist, he was also
one of the very first to be put on display. His use of the media for self-propulsion was successful in making him the first “Pop” superstar. Warhol’s characteristically different images in Pop were what clearly brought upon his remarkable staying power. All of this definition from the rest and perfect timing were the elements successful in erecting Andy Warhol as the first and last Pop star who had become and remained a household name, not to mention just one of the first Pop artists period. That he was one of the first Pop artists displayed, one of the firsts to have been successful, and the MOST successful, are what made Andy Warhol the Father of Pop art.