Checking out Warhol 3
Keeping sketch books is a great idea from so many stand points, it's a journey, a visual diary, a scrapbook, a record, a personal history reflected through visual, textural, textual, colour, line sketches, photograhs. A safe place to explore feelings, emotions and to discover your own creativity. Everyone's is different, each one of mine is different it reflects the time and context in which it was created. Most importantly I think keeping a sketchbook is space to think and work things out. It's like breathing if you are starved of air you cannot survive but if you breathe deeply and get fresh air with excersise you become strong and you benefit in every area of your life.
Andy Warhol was prolific, the exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion is the biggest outside of London and Edinburgh but it still shows only a very small percentage of the quantity and range of his work and his obsession with recording other people's conversations is perhaps like an audio sketch book tracking creating a pathway which informed his choices, he often referred to the media or external influences to choose subjects, indeed they would come and seek him out.
The cows in gallery 2 have been puzzling some of us on the course and this week we discovered that the book Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett. POPism describes Ivan Karp suggesting to Andy Warhol (in response to Andy's searching for a subject) that he paint cows, a typical pastoral subject in much traditional art. Warhol's response is typical of his reactionary instinctive style, to do the complete opposite of whats currently accepted and elevate this 'pastoral' animal to extraordinary status using colour. Producing a quite frightening vivid image of a docile animal but in loud threatening colour shouting out from the paper. As wallpaper the impact is magnified. I think it transforms the walls into a colour field of horror, of subnormal even paranormal, of nightmares. I was interested to find this quote revealing warhol's insecurity regarding his public status as an artist and the celebrity he thought that should should bring.
Ted Carey thought that Warhol may have been more influenced by Jasper Johns' fame than his actual artwork. Carey would later say that "Andy was definitely influenced by Johns and Rauschenberg, not so much by their produced work, but by their personality and their success and their glamour and the fact that they were in the Castelli Gallery, and that's what Andy would most like to be." Although Warhol was keen to be accepted by both Johns and Rauschenberg, it wasn't until he achieved his own fame as a Pop artist that they befriended him. In Popism, Pat Hackett recalled a conversation in which Warhol asked Emile De Antonio why Johns and Rauschenberg didn't like him.
Andy Warhol (via Pat Hackett in Popism):
"De was such good friends with both Jasper and Bob that I figured he could probably tell me something I'd been wanting to know for a long time: why didn't the like me? Every time I saw them, they cut me dead... I finally popped the question, and De said, 'Okay Andy, if you really want to hear it straight, I'll lay it out for you. You're too swish, and that upsets them... First, the post-Abstract Expressionist sensibility is, of course, a homosexual one, but these two guys wear three-button suits - they were in the army or navy or something! Second, you make them nervous because you collect paintings, and traditionally artists don't buy the work of other artists, it just isn't done. And third,' De concluded, 'you're a commercial artist, which really bugs them because when they do commercial art - windows and other jobs I find them - they do it just 'to survive.' They won't even use their real names. Whereas you've won prizes! You're famous for it!... Yes, Andy, there are others who are more swish - and less talented - and still others who are less swish and just as talented, but the major painters try to look straight; you play up the swish - it's like an armor with you."
In the gallery this week, we chose one portrait. Made a small drawing, listing all the colours. Noting 'What do the colours transmit to me?'
Looking closely at edges and mismatches of print.
I looked at Joseph Boyce, seen in top right of image, which is a print over a print mismatched so that it appears Boyce is moving his head from side to side.
The colours are simply black and White with hand painted White beneath the black print, big gestural paint brush sweeps across the surface.
Hs big hat gives me the impression of stillness and solidity, his eyes are staring fixed amongst the moving fuzz. The black and White makes me think of laurel and hardy, films, of comedy, happy and sad, fear, unpredictability, danger, out of focus difficult to pin down, there is a softness created by the double print edge which also suggests transparency and maybe vulnerability or tenderness. The activity was to choose a portrait of someone we like or dislike and then draw them twice choosing colours limiting ourselves to 3 or less and trying to recreate a Warhol version of their portrait.
I found this incredibly hard, firstly to choose a subject and secondly to find a way of achieving expressionless flat colour, I discovered a little late in the session that perhaps taking a print of the painting I had done might have been a good way of achieving the flat print blocks of colour Warhol used but it was also difficult because I felt I was having to get into a way of seeing that was someone else's natural state and of course for me it's a forced state. For my own personal development this is really useful and I think I learn more from my struggles with new ways of seeing, now I am still chewing the fat over this method of seeing subjects and I will continue to explore it.
Others on the course chose the following
Pierre marco White
Friends or family.
Portrait by rodchenko
Next week we are tackling self portraits....will I survive?!