Monday, March 16, 2015

Essay on Warhol



Some time ago when browsing Warhol on Pinterest an unusual painting caught my attention. It was strange and intriguing and it was nothing like Warhol. That was how I discovered Warhol’s Rorschach series.

In 1978, more than a decade after announcing his retirement from printmaking, Warhol returned to painting. The idea for the Rorschach paintings came from Jay Shriver, Warhol’s studio assistant who suggested Rorschach blots.

Jay Shriver remembered it:  Interview moved from 860 Broadway to a new building on 33rd Street in 1984. By then 860 was basically just an empty 14,000-square-foot loft, left for Andy to paint in. That’s when the paintings get really huge.… And nobody was there to bother him. That’s what enabled the Rorschachs.

Andy said, “We need a new idea.” And, by that time, it had been made very clear to me that abstraction was an important element that he wanted to pursue and abstractions weren’t being commissioned. So I thought of the Rorschachs because it was primitive printmaking.   
We had these huge canvases that we had to fold over and press together so that the paint was evenly distributed on both halves of the canvas. We took some of the huge dowels, on which canvas was shipped, and Andy, Augusto [Bugarin], Benjamin [Liu], and myself would get on our hands and knees, rolling the dowels and patting the canvas to get an even pressure across the entire surface.  (*)

Warhol remains consistent with his early works: the Rorschachs were made with no human touch, without human interference or brushwork. The other feature that refers the series to his print making period of the 1960s is that the “Rorschach” series were mass produced.

With an estimated 38 paintings total in the “Rorschach” series were not all produced only with the dark black paint. Warhol experimented with a variety of colors. Many of the famous paintings were bright red, gold and pink; he even created a beautiful mixture of the colors, mixing purple, red and violet, and in another blue, purple and pink .
Although Warhol used the same technique of pouring paint on canvas as Jackson Pollock , the two could not be more different. Jackson Pollock  believed that an act of paiting was an act of self_realization. His paintings express his inner feelings. Andy Warhol always wanted to detach himself from his work. In his words:
"The reason I'm painting this way is that I want to be a machine, and I feel that whatever I do and do machine-like is what I want to do.”
Some critics say that Warhol was particularly fond of genital imagery, but others argue that the “Rorschach” paintings contained images of the devil and even death itself.
Warhol himself claimed that the inkblot paintings said nothing about him because he actually had no inner life. “I was going to hire somebody to read into them, to pretend it was me, so that they’d be a little more ... interesting,” he said. “Because all I would see would be a dog’s face or something like a tree or a bird or a flower. Somebody else could see a lot more.” (**)

Critics claim that “serious” painting for Warhol meant abstraction,… Warhol’s parody of Pollock and Color Field painting is obvious…(Joseph D. Ketner II).
I would disagree that the “Rorschach” is a parody of Pollock. We have a perfect response to his critics in his own words: “Nothing can always be the subject of something. I mean, what’s nice about those paintings is you could do them every five years ... anytime you wanted to, when you had the time ... because there’s nothing to read into them ... Because even if the paints stayed the same, everything else — and everyone else — would have changed.”

* Eli Diner, AHA
** Ariella Budick, Andy Warhol’s mature abstract works

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