Saturday, July 05, 2008

Damaged or Whole?


Sometimes Andy Warhol said something. It was simple, what he said, but it was not a comfort. He was so polite, but it was not a comfort. He used simple words, words that honored the idea of simple agreement—“Oh, it’s so big!” and “Oh yes!” and “Oh, he was so cute!”—but there was no comfort in the agreement. And sometimes the agreement turned a corner, “Oh, he was so cute! But all he was interested in was drugs.”
Andy Warhol looked like a little god. It was so comforting the way he made everything uncomfortable. And the way the damage rose to the surface around him. The people around him had this in common, at first: a sense of sin. They knew what was damaged and what was whole. Andy Warhol knew, too. But sometimes he was coy. Sometimes he wouldn’t tell. People around him wondered if they had got it right. People around him wondered if they should be more damaged or more whole. It was hard to tell.

--George W.S. Trow, Within the Context of No Context

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting - I'd like to read more. Andy Warhol is such a fascinating person, great artist, mysterious being, I never get enough. It's like he's the key to something, I'm not sure what. Wish he were here, well, maybe he still is.

Anonymous said...

David,
I would really love to connect with you abotu a book project I am working on.
jake.dockter@gmail.com
I really hope to hear from you.
Jake

Dan Morehead said...

Thanks for this.

jdaviddark said...

Thanks for finding it interesting, anonymous.
And Dan, knowing that you read these things and somehow benefit from them has me me awfully pleased.
Might have to put up some of Songs for Drella off Youtube.

Ahna said...

I was reading about Andy Warhol fairly recently, myself. Something many people don't know about Warhol is that he was a devout, practicing Byzantine Rite Catholic, which -- best as I understand it -- shows a lot of similarities in theology and practice with the Eastern Orthodox Church. Though Warhol is known for surrounding himself with celebrities, for being part of the crazy artist and party scene of New York in the 1960's, and for creating works that exemplify the very epitome of "pop art," during that whole time (1958-1970), he lived with his mother (as well as 25 cats named Sam) and, according to the priest of his church, St Vincent's, attended Mass nearly every day. Warhol outlived his mother by another fifteen or sixteen years, but apparently, his deeply held religious beliefs continued to the end.

He was known to regularly volunteer at homeless shelters in New York City, and he funded his nephew's studies to become a priest. Warhol's brother said of him that he was "really religious, but he didn't want people to know about that because [it was] private." Furthermore, a friend said that he knew with certainty that Andy Warhol was responsible for at least one person converting to the faith.

So, you can put that in your pop culture pipe, and smoke it. :)

kirsten reed said...

A response in the words of the man himself from his 1975 book "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)":

"But being famous isn't all that important. If I weren't famous, I wouldn't have been shot for being Andy Warhol. [Referencing the 1968 attempt on his life which damaged five of his major organs and ruined his health for the rest of his life] Maybe I would have been shot for being in the Army. Or maybe I would be a fat schoolteacher. How do you ever know? A good reason to be famous, though, is so you can read all the big magazines and know everybody in all the stories. Page after page it's just all people you've met. I love that kind of reading experience and that's the best reason to be famous."

"I was trying to think the other day about what you do now in America if you want to be sucessful. Before, you were dependable and wore a good suit. Looking around, I guess that today you have to do all the same things but not wear a good suit. I guess that's all it is. Think rich. Look poor."

I think the one thing that can be said about Andy Warhol is that whether you love him or hate him, he was an absolute genius in creating his persona. You can’t mistake his coy personality and simplicity for stupidity. It’s not a mistake he is undoubtedly one of the last world famous American born artists; it’s his intelligence and pr talent (in a time before paparazzi, pr, and 24 hour celebrity news channels) to create an absolutely unknowable aura about him that makes him absolutely fascinating. I think this can be seen in what was referenced in Andy’s “simple” explanations. They seem too simple to be true and the human mind is what’s behind Andy’s legacy. Our minds can’t accept the simple explanation and therefore we debate every possible meaning behind the statement. Here are a few of my favorites:

“I like boring things.”
“Art is what you can get away with.”
“Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.”
“I am a deeply superficial person.”
“I never think that people die. They just go to department stores.”
“I had a lot of dates but I decided to stay home and dye my eyebrows.”

It’s interesting to see where Andy came from, as well. In a 1991 documentary about the life and times of Andy Warhol, the filmmakers interviewed Andy’s living cousins (leaving no children behind) in the backyard of their chicken farm. Yes, chicken farm. I awed as a group of country-living Pennsylvania chicken farmers said to the effect of “Oh, yes, we feel Andy’s presence with us right here with us. Every day.” I hate to be discriminating toward Pennsylvanian chicken farmers in this case, but this place might as well have been Mars from Andy’s life at The Factory. I even questioned whether they had even met Andy after he had changed from the child of Andrew that they knew growing up.

And for you Caudill, my writings from inside The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art (currently featuring a 65 piece Andy Warhol print collection on loan from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg):

“In the presence of greatness. The empty shell of a space. Lifeless except for the framed ghosts of a previous life. A life born in New York, created by hands. The simultaneous exploitation and study of American society. ‘Wow, he must have been a drug dealer or something.’ [A passing viewers comment on the whole thing] The invasion of my sanctuary. I keep expecting a sheepish ‘hello’ to come from around the corner. Dancing on the inside, knowing drugs and a genius rouse kept people guessing. Always talking. Never forgotten. An odd tenseness fills my body. I feel like I should stare at the floor. Every peek up a glance into the eyes I would find hard to stare down. No photos, just a name and cardboard cutout explanations. The suspension of time. And consequently, there is no expression, no emotion. Evacuating his manner. No message. Trinity. Mortality.”

I think I could go on forever, but I'll leave it at that.

-kirsten reed (David Dark fan and little sister of your former student Eric Reed)

Lola said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jdaviddark said...

Ahna,
thanks for all of that. i suppose putting these things on the blog is my way of placing them in my pop culture pipe and smoking away. my interest i warhol deepens away. i had no idea he was byzantine rite.
And Kirsten,
i always suspected it would be a pleasure to share life in the classroom with you, and i'm awfully glad to read your words now. you oughtta blog or something.

best,
jdd

Karen Luttrell said...

David, I haven't read a lot of your work, but there seemed to be a paucity of references to contemporary visual art. Any reasons? I know Warhol is a popular figure, but I would recommend exploring more of the prolific and influential artists of contemporary art. One such artist is Robert Raushenberg. His work often thoughtfully comments on popular culture, whereas I think Warhol's work is largely commenting on consumerism/fame/celebrity. RR, who passed away recently, is indisputably the most influential artist of the last 50 years. He kinda bridged Ab/Ex and Pop Art and led the way for installations. Not only contemporary artists, but media has sampled his style and content. Once you look at his work, I think you'll understand. There's lots of info about him out there, but he's not as commercially popular as Warhol. There aren't as many wall calendars and note cards of his work, for instance. I thought too you might find his background fascinating, raised in Texas to conservative fundamentalist parents. He originally wanted to be a minister, and I think his upbringing informs a lot of his work. I suggest the NYT obit if you'd like a synopsis. Anyway, I would enjoy your take on him.

Thanks,

Karen L

jdaviddark said...

Hi Karen,
So glad to find you here.
The paucity you witness is generated by my overall ignorance of the medium. I guess I mostly leave it to Todd Greene and Anna Caudill and Barry Taylor to keep me up to speed on these things.
Anyway, I'll get right to it on the Robert Raushenberg end of things. And I thank you for the recommendation.

All the Best,
jdd

dave said...

you always make my day.

Thanks for inspiring me again.

My answer to the title of your post is

Yes:

see this

T.M. Gardenhire said...

David,

Love the quote and makes me think of the basic premise for 'Everyday Apocalypse'. I Just finished it over December, and absolutely loved the content material. I also remembered when you spoke at Lee University a couple years ago and the book helps it all make sense now. Thanks for doing that!

Not much to add to the other posts or quote, but just wanted to say thanks for writing EA and I'll be sure to check out the other books too!

Trey

jdaviddark said...

Good to hear from you, Trey.
At the risk of sounding like a commercial...If you liked EA, I suspect you'll like the other two (especially the latest, even more.
Thanks for jumping in with a word.
Best,
jdd