When A Painting Is Squeezed By The Viewers’ Enthusiasm Transformed Into “Gold” Of Admiration

Viewers’ self-aggrandizing identification with a superstar has been resourcefully parodied by the artist’s work


Andy Warhol, “Gold Marilyn Monroe”, 1962

Is Marilyn lucky or unlucky for having become such a popular star, and is Andy Warhol lucky or unlucky that his “portrait” of Marilyn as a superstar became so popular not only in US but throughout the world? In other words, is this particular Warhol’s work monumentalizing Marilyn (as either a face, or her smile or her eyes existing not for seeing but for being seen, or, conversely – as a gold imprisoning her) successful?

Is Marilyn’s stardom made of gold of human admiration because she’s as ordinary as everybody else who worship her (as if, they’re secretly worshiping themselves – worship her in themselves and themselves in her – worship her as if they only dream to worship themselves – publicly, loudly confidently, matter-of-factly)? And isn’t Warhol admired by basically the same reason – “because everybody can create like this – by just copying photos” and be rewarded as a super-artist? Marilyn and Andy – Andy and Marilyn – two cases of mythological realization of basic human dream to be admired and worshiped because they are just human beings – a pretty female and a man prone to laugh at others and himself for being laughable. Indeed, isn’t being laughable a basic attribute of being human?

Does human emptiness or nothingness (before we are loaded with social rules, rituals, prejudices and ideals and learn how to glue to and hate one another) deserve to be disdained or worshiped? If we prefer the latter opportunity we, at least, look democratic, optimistic and even “good persons”. But, isn’t laughing at human emptiness including our own (being nothingness laughing at itself) makes us not completely empty? Isn’t the ability to laugh at the emptiness of the human soul a talent? Then Andy Warhol is talented – (empty talented?).

Does Andy laugh at Marilyn, at her emotional flatness, at her extrovert smiles, at her particular mixture of womanliness and girlishness, at her being everybody for everyone, her every-place-ness and belong-to-everywhere-ness)? – And so – at himself and mass-art, like a buffoon activating public’s attention because he needs to survive on small pocket crowds (basic financial reserve of mass-cultural market) and on pretentious middle-class idol-worshipers hooked on traditional prestige of art as ontological shininess.

We observe how “its midgetsty”-mass-culture becomes crowned into “its majesty” and anointed by society. Warhol knows how art and artist are transformed into mass art and mass-artist and he decided to make the best of it. Andy Warhol is a mass artist with contempt for mass art. More exactly, he is a mass artist who is intellectually dominating (in charge of) mass art’s cheap appeal and seductive winking (he is much smarter than naively tasteless mass-cultural artist). That’s how a smart mass-artist can keep his status of an artist – not to be completely psychologically identical with his mass-art. He is a mass-artist, but he transcends mass-art intellectually (by his understanding, not by his creativity). In the eye of mass-art-critics the artist who is a mass-artist is still an artist if he is laughing at himself and his own mass-art and other mass-artists! Because middle class art specialists trying to be in their own eyes people of high culture with refined aesthetic taste but they need mass-art to make mass-art money – mass-money (money smells in a standard way) they’re in the same position towards mass-art as smart (and even smarter than mass-art specialists) Andy Warhol.

Smartness grasps that the quickest and the most effective way to make art is to make mass-art – to make fame and money through mass art. The smart artist who understands the very mechanism of mass-art is in the best position to feel himself a master over his art, his career, his audiences and art critics, the very throne of art and his own life. It looks like a dose of cheerful cynicism in an artist doesn’t necessarily contradict his talent if the type of talent is an intellectual – contemplative kind, contrary to his own production perceived naively.

Isn’t this dynamic similar with that of today’s – mass-cultural politics? Serious politician (dedicated to serious policy-making) will be finished after just several speeches. “Naïve” frankness is a death of a political figure. But politician using slogans-and-slang oriented on the less educated (and more brutal) segments of population will win ruling positions, encouragement of donors-billionaires and self-sacrificial love of “mass-cultural masses”. It is not that the slogan is just imitation of masses’ ideas – it is supposed to be crafted in a way which look more truthful than masses’ dreams and not to be a copy of this dream. The mass-person is not without brains (or, more exactly, mass brains are also brains, although twisted and deformed). The mass-artist-politician uses this difference between mass dreams and mass brain to sounds “realistically” – in agreement with violent frustration of masses which want to grab from other poor what they dream to get. The mass-artist-politician is psychologically very close to mass artist who is smarter than mass art.

That’s how artist can slide into a mass-artist and art into a mass-art, like democracy into pop-democracy and to anti-democracy which as if just cheerfully imitating-through parodying – democracy. If you are laughing at your own mass-art – you are perceived not just as serious person, but as good businessman, while making policies through mocking democracy makes you being perceived as great politician. Truth today perceived as real when politician mocks real truth. This is why Andy Warhol is considered to be not just serious, but as great artist.