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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

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Opened last Thrusday at the de Young Museum Warhol Live is a full immersion exercise of sorts, which includes paintings and films by Andy Warhol, props from his Silver Studio, and a rendering of bathroom wall cave drawings in the said Studio. Branded an exploration of “the fundamental and continuous role of music in the work and life” of the artist, the exhibition also includes musical pieces loved or used by him, album covers he created, portraits of musicians, and some strobe light. Yet another exploration is in order. Warhol’s knack for marketing, especially apparent in the realm of the current all-encompassing show, should definitely be studied and researched in more depth. While anyone can open his studio door (granted he has a studio and a door) and let trust fund babies or freshmen hipsters enjoy drugs, sex and rock-n-roll for his and their own amusement, not everyone can market his party life up to the level of international significance. Campbell’s cans and Brillo boxes are now tattooed onto the body of the art history, but do we enjoy these images because they are pure art, or because we’ve seen them so many times before, they became a part of our comfort zone? An acquaintance whom we meet on the street, and a genius artist who we admire both get our recognition, although not of the same kind. The show starts with the artist’s childhood fascination with Hollywood movies and movie stars… In normies, it usually passes by the time of a first date. In artists, it can last forever and develop into something productive… Then come musicians, divas, rock stars… Five, six-hour films of the Empire State Building, or of a sleeping lover… This nomadic folklore approach, “ I sing what I see” worked for Warhol. Then “all these people are so interesting…” everybody’s famous, everybody’s a star! No, a Superstar… How about the artist? Was he interesting? A notorious voyeur, an observer, a non-participant, always hospitable, yet never drunk, never stoned. Was he a chick/guy magnet because of his shining personality, or because of his ability to mirror every passing body in the most complimentary light, just like silver foil on the walls of his house? (“Come to my house”)… A cool Slav, making it in the West, was he interesting because of his human depth, everything he endured, his wit (and it was there, if you read his diaries)… Or, mainly because he relentlessly showed interest in countless others, who would digest and disseminate his secondary ideas to create his prime publicity (followed by prosperity) just like birds planting seeds of digested plants far and wide. FAMSF Board of Trustees President, Diane Wilsey, remarked at the opening that Warhol, constantly surrounded by adoring fans and tripping over themselves hostesses of our little burg, hasn’t said one single word during his week stay in San Francisco back in the 1970s… Leaving everyone to wonder, what a conversation with the most important artist of the 20th century would sound like? A king of pop, a god of marketing… “Warhol Live” runs through May 17 at the de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, SF. 415-750-3600,


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