Andy Warhol and the Can that Sold the World

Andy Warhol and the Can that Sold the World

Gary Indiana

Language: English

Pages: 192

ISBN: 0465002331

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In the summer of 1962, Andy Warhol unveiled 32 Soup Cans in his first solo exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles—and sent the art world reeling. The responses ran from incredulity to outrage; the poet Taylor Mead described the exhibition as “a brilliant slap in the face to America.” The exhibition put Warhol on the map—and transformed American culture forever. Almost single-handedly, Warhol collapsed the centuries-old distinction between “high” and “low” culture, and created a new and radically modern aesthetic.

In Andy Warhol and the Can that Sold the World, the dazzlingly versatile critic Gary Indiana tells the story of the genesis and impact of this iconic work of art. With energy, wit, and tremendous perspicacity, Indiana recovers the exhilaration and controversy of the Pop Art Revolution and the brilliant, tormented, and profoundly narcissistic figure at its vanguard.

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way to play up the other extreme.7 This brittle, distancing attitude dominated the studio atmosphere as well; all that mattered was the steady production of work, regardless of whatever cacophony (loud music, blaring television sets, the amphetamine-fueled antics of people hanging around and rushing in and out) ruled the day. At his studios—his second homes—Warhol was the presiding spirit, the unquestioned boss. He seldom said anything. Others knew, almost telepathically, how he wanted things.

inhibition. In his later career, the confrontative expression of alternative sexuality outlived its usefulness. It no longer carried any shock value and reaped no particular rewards in terms of publicity—in other words, it had performed its function for Warhol’s idiosyncratic advancement as a media star and lucrative artist. In the ’70s, when transvestites and underground sex clubs were objects of interest for the monied elite, Warhol produced plenty of works depicting drag queens, male

ironic per se, those in the know about Warhol’s sexuality (just about everybody as Warhol’s public image became ubiquitous) interpreted the glorification of such aesthetically questionable objects, presented in utterly deadpan fashion, as a variant of the same “insider” hilarity as such camp objects as Tiffany lamps and chacha heels—their presentation as “art” was thought to constitute a kind of absurdist excess different from other Pop Art, something that could be construed as a form of sly,

follow the same paradigm as Warhol’s “no comment” Pop paintings, with many technical decisions left open to chance, and in them Warhol’s invisible presence is weirdly palpable. As one anonymous Superstar told me, “It didn’t matter who shot it or who ‘directed’ it, if Andy was in the room, it was Andy’s film.” The same actor told me that Andy’s only direction to him, ever, was to whisper in his ear: “Too much plot.” NINE The cult of the proper name has a strong, transformative effect on human

Hughes, Ernest Hemingway, and Theodore Dreiser. Also expunged from U.S.-sponsored cultural events abroad were works of composers such as Aaron Copland and exhibitions of architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright. The political crusade against modernist painting was triggered by a State Department plan that began in the late 1940s: to send “advanced” American art abroad in a series of government-sponsored exhibitions as part of a wide-reaching propaganda effort on behalf of “the American way of

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