Monday, January 21, 2008

Audacious Andy

I've finally finished watching Ric Burns' four-hour 2006 documentary for PBS titled "Andy Warhol, A Documentary Film." It's quite thorough and stunning, with a tremendous amount of focus on the 1960s which probably marked Warhol's high point.
Many people believe that Picasso and Warhol were the two greatest artists of the 20th century with Picasso owning the first half of the century and Warhol prevailing in the second. Andy did have a way of dominating his environment and he was keenly aware of the popular culture. He was also remarkably prolific. His commitment to productivity seemed rooted in his ethnic, working-class background and he was a clever businessman. On top of all that, he always seemed to be ahead of trends. And let's not forget that he possessed undeniable artistic talent. In fact, he was a very successful commercial artist before he even tried his hand at "serious" art.
Warhol was eminently quotable and in this documentary he is quoted as saying that "dying is the most embarrassing thing that can ever happen to you" because you spend your whole life earning a living so that you can be secure and independent and then once you die people have to take care of all your remaining needs for you - such as what to do with your body and your belongings. "I don't understand why people don't just disappear," Andy said.
Well, it certainly would be a helluva lot more convenient. But then again, what would undertakers do for a living?

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