Sunday, September 24, 2006

Was Andy The First JunkThief?

Despite all the sadness of dealing with another death this weekend, I did manage to finish all four hours of the Ric Burns take on the life of Andy Warhol. It was a good source of letting me focus on something else. The first two hours and arguably the first hour of the latter episode were the strongest in that they built up to his career in the sixties. He continued to be productive in the last 17 years of his life but certainly not with the same level of cultural change. There was virtually no mention of Interview magazine, the Heat/Trash/Flesh films or even that much mention of his discovery of new artists in the 1980s. Perhaps the film would have been better suited ending in 1968 with the shooting and covering one intense period of time the way last year's No Direction Home did. The review of Warhol's youth and disdain of his appearance was not new information, but it was dealt with in far greater detail and sympathy than any piece I've seen to date. Yet it was not an apology for his coolness to those young people who self destructed. I also would have enjoyed a bit more about his collecting obsessions and the discovery of the grandeur of his town house upon death. The release of the book on the work of Jed Johnson this summer, Opulent Restraint, did a nice job of documenting that side of Warhol. Having written a number of entries now about 1962 when I entered first grade, I was struck by how that was frequently cited as the year Warhol's career really exploded. I can recall that the very next year I had an art teacher in second grade who instructed us on the meaning of Op and Pop art, and at six and three-quarters I thought I knew all about it and was ready to become the next Warhol. Perhaps that is where the term Junk Thief first came from. Warhol certainly could qualify as a Junk Thief, taking people and images from the cultural ash or trash bins and calling them his own and reselling them for millions. Consider this the blotted line of the blogasphere...

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