Thursday, July 7, 2011

Andy Warhol: Remix artist

Andy Warhol was a remix artist before it was cool.
Warhol took photos and graphics from other sources and turned them into works of art. He used news photos, Hollywood publicity stills and even food packaging to create his unique works. He morphed them to his signature style using bold colors, repetition and other effects.
Last weekend, I toured the “Warhol Live” exhibit at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tenn.
Warhol (1928-1987) impressed me as a remix artist ahead of his time.
Now with personal computers, digital photography, the Internet and other tools of the digital age, anyone can be a remix artist.
But I think people were more forgiving of artists in Warhol’s day. He was able to make artwork of Campbell’s soup cans, Heinz ketchup shipping boxes, celebrity photos and even news photos without getting hassled by lawsuits.
Today, copyright holders frequently sue artists for doing an homage to their work or altering it to make it something new.
Take Warhol’s work “White Burning Car III” (1963), silkscreen ink on linen, on display at the Frist. It uses a photograph by John Whitehead from the June 3, 1963, of Newsweek as a source image.
Flash forward to today’s litigious society where the Associated Press sued artist Shepard Fairey for using an AP photo of Barack Obama as the source image for his “Hope” poster.
How times have changed for the worse.
One more thing about the “Warhol Live” exhibit: Warhol would almost certainly be against the museum’s policy prohibiting attendees from taking photos of his art.

Photo: Andy Warhol self-portrait

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