Wednesday, October 19, 2011


... On Andy Warhol | Bryan Appleyard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The philosopher Roger Scuton argues that he had nothing to say, it really was all about money. “It is worth pointing out that there is neither beauty, nor elegance nor style in anything that Warhol did, and that the very media he chose were reflections of the moral emptiness within him. But since the result (like the silkscreens of Marilyn Monroe) convey that emptiness, there is nothing in them to understand; in no way do they present a challenge to the observer, other than the challenge to his cheque-book. And if you are extremely rich, extremely stupid and morally vacant, why not write a cheque to prove it?”
The pro-Warhol response to that is that it misses the point. The cheque book IS the aesthetic. “I think the argument one could well make,” says Noah Horowitz, “is that in some sense his whole thing, his MO, his method of production was totally tied into that [the market], and it’s one thing to analyse and criticise and do something aesthetic with that structure but Warhol embraced it and made it his aesthetic.”
So either Warhol was an empty product of money or he made art out of money. Take your pick.


  1. None of the above. They ALL miss the point.

    Warhol did have a genius for production and marketing, it's true. But the whole focus on money misses the point entirely—which is typical of philosophers trying to understand art, in a culture in which money is revered as a god while creativity is dismissed as a luxury. To be "successful" even as an artist is defined as making money.

    Warhol was both changing the way art is made, and tweaking the gallery system and the cultural value of money. He was doing his screen prints before they made a lot of money. He was commenting, perhaps, on the hollowness of capital culture, not on the hollowness of art. Duh. One could go on, but as for the philosophers it will fall on deaf ears.

  2. I don't know, Art. Maybe because i'm old, maybe because I'm an admirer of AbEx, but I just don't see Warhol as much other than a master of marketing. I think he was pretty purely into money. And his work has never done anything for me. The curator Bryan quotes at the beginning seems to me typical of the vacuous sorts who now dominate the art world. And remember, I used to be a gallery director.