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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Andy Warhol, Art and Shopping


Andy Warhol and I have two things in common.

One: we are both artists -- even though he is one of the most important artists of the 20th Century -- and I am merely a for-hire 20th-21st century artist who loves her work illustrating, cartooning, and painting.

Two: He loved shopping and so do I. I was always ashamed that I loved shopping so much and kept it a dark secret until I read that Andy did too. Then I was proud that I had the same passion for it as an art icon.

I tried to analyze why artists would love shopping so much. There is the facile answer to this: When one goes shopping she is surrounded by space, shiny, bright and muted colors, patterns, shapes and lines of all sizes and dazzling light. All the things we artists love. I, personally, carry all those images around with me. The next time I am drawing or painting this melange comes flowing out and I utilize it in the process of creation.

If I had a better grasp on the philosophy of the great art critics, e.g. Arthur Danto and Walter Benjamin (I painted more than read while in school -- sorry Cora Cohen if you happen to be reading this) I would be able to explain this next less obvious answer more tidily. Anyway, here's my try: When you make a work of art, it doesn't belong to you. It was yours while you were working on it, but if it reaches the status of a "work," you don't own it anymore. It is an entity unto itself, incapable of being owned. Even if you buy it, it doesn't really belong to you, nor does it belong to any gallery or museum. That is why some artists don't sign their paintings on the front of their canvas, as initiated by Moholy-Nagy. In addition to the signature implying ownership, it distracts from the "work." (I stopped when my NYU classmates laughed hysterically every time they saw my signature on my work.).

If artists can't even own their own work, they are going to want to own something. It is only natural ... so we go shopping. Andy bought so much stuff, he had hundreds of unopened boxes still in shopping bags piled all over the place. I at least open mine. Oh, excuse me ... I have to go shopping.

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