09.17.12 6:50 PM ET
Warhol Was Never Warholian
Here’s the fundamental problem with “Regarding Warhol”, the Met show on the master and his influence that opens tomorrow, and that I wrote about in the latest international edition of Newsweek. The central fact about Andy Warhol’s closest followers is that they are (by definition) Warholian. And that’s the one thing Warhol wasn’t – couldn’t be. He was never working in another artist’s mode, which means he was always in some way unplaceable. Whereas you can always place one of his followers, as someone who is doing “that Warhol thing”. Even when, late in life, Warhol became the ultimate Warholian, entirely derivative of his earlier self, the fact that he was the one doing the deriving completely changed its meaning: His self-duplication was as unique as his original invention of the Warhol Way. And it took his art to an entirely new place that had to do with the market and selling out, and with the evaporation of meaning and quality.
A contemporary artist engaging in true Warholism, and truly worthy of the Met show, would have to have almost nothing in common with Warhol.