Sunday, May 31, 2009

Transitions

A friend of mine from my art history program in Copenhagen once told me that she fell in love with Art when she saw and started reading about Velàsquez' Las Meninas. My point of entry to the Art World was a little less profound I think. It was Andy Warhol who caught my imagination, and in fact, not so much his paintings, as the stories about him and the scene that he managed to place himself in the midst of. Thus I would sit for hours on end and look at black and white images of the people who frequented the Factory, Studio 54 and Max's Kansas City, daydreaming myself a good 20, 30 or 40 years back to when Bianca Jagger was skinny still, Edie Sedgwick was alive and well, and the factory was covered in silver lining.
Or tin foil it might have been.

The other day Marie invited us to come along to a Stephen Shore opening at 303 Gallery. She has been doing a private study with him the past year, and so we were all eager to see the man himself just as much as his work. Much to Marie's chagrin, however, it turned out to be an exhibition of old work, shot when he was in his teens and an integral part of, yes, the Factory.

And it's funny, because even though that scene represents my very first love with the art world, I almost can't bear looking at images of it now. I'm unable to identify any interesting or aesthetic qualities in them (even though I'm positive that they're there in plenty), and simply feel annoyed with seeing yet another black and white photo of Warhol, Edie, Bridget, Name, it all.

I was reflecting about Picasso recently, on the way he moved from being an avant-garde figure to completely loosing his cool and relevance in the realm of contemporary art. And it wasn't just his art, it was just as much the images of him that became empty clichés, jokes almost. All these images of Picasso sketching, sitting at the table with his children, his arm wrapped around his woman du jour. Reproduced. As postcards.

Even though I recognize that Warhol is still interesting and a major source of inspiration in contemporary art, I do wonder if he is heading in the same direction as Picasso. If he's becoming a joke somehow. Because of these widely distributed images of him. Of Marilyn. Of soup cans.

I guess it's largely a consequence of mass-distribution and mass-ownership and an art world that will always have a soft spot for the less known, the less understood, and distancing itself through differentiation. In that regard, it's all same same. It's just kind of interesting when you realize the extent to which you go through these transitions yourself, not least as a consequence of gaining greater knowledge about a discipline or subject - or however you wish to categorize the field of art appreciation.

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