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BOOK REVIEW: "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again"

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BOOK REVIEW: The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again) by Andy Warhol (Harcourt) 1975

Andy walking, Andy tired / Andy take a little snooze / Tie him up when he’s fast asleep / Send him on a pleasant cruise” – “Andy Warhol” by David Bowie (1971).

The above Bowie lyrics were featured in his Hunky Dory track “Andy Warhol” just four years prior to the publication of this collection of detached thoughts and quotes, considered “self-consciously ironic” on all manner of topics, ranging from love, beauty and money to class, work, art and … underwear.

The topic of “love” is of particular interest, as it was difficult for the public to figure out what Andy Warhol was all about, particularly in light of a persona that struck many as “plastic” and shallow, which seems to be what Warhol was going for.

This particular paragraph is particularly enlightening:

When I got my first TV set, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships with other people. I’d been hurt a lot to the degree you can only be hurt if you care a lot. So I guess I did care a lot, in the days before anyone ever heard of ‘pop art’ or ‘underground movies’ or ‘superstars.

So, in the late 50’s I started an affair with my television which has continued to the present, when I play around in my bedroom with as many as four at a time. But I didn’t get married until 1964 when I got my first tape recorder. My wife. My tape recorder and I have been married for ten years now. When I say ‘we,’ I mean my tape recorder and me. A lot of people don’t understand that.

Warhol’s fascination (obsession?) with television and the media continues in the chapter on “Fame.”

Certain people have TV magic: they fall completely apart off-camera but they are completely together on-camera. They shake and sweat before they go on, they shake and sweat during commercials, they shake and sweat when it’s all over; but while the camera is filming them, they’re poised and confident-looking. The camera turns them on and off.

Six years before Warhol and his ghost-writer began working on this book, in 1968, Warhol had given the world his famous quote “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” And while it is debatable as to whether Warhol coined this phrase or someone else, it is usually attributed to the Pennsylvania native.

And Warhol was absolutely dead on. With reality television and YouTube and social media, folks who might otherwise be lost or overlooked in the day-to-day or household names. This, to me, explains Warhol’s TV and media obsession, since it was coming to fruition in the mid-20th century when Warhol was at the height of his creative powers.

And so Warhol’s “philosophy,” is offered up in bits of info like the artist awaking in the morning and focusing on “watching TV and washing my underwear.” He liked doing two things at once, saying it was classy to eat and talk at the same time.

But reading the minute details of Warhol’s life can be a bit tedious. But the information and ideas and viewpoints offered by the late, groundbreaking artist (who died in 1987) will likely be read and analyzed and considered for many years to come. I think there is still much to learn from Andy Warhol and this decidedly interesting book is a good place to start.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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