Andy Warhol once said:
The Pop artists did images that anybody walking down Broadway could recognize in a split second — comics, picnic tables, men’s trousers, celebrities, shower curtains, refrigerators, Coke bottles — all the great modern things that the Abstract Expressionists tried so hard not to notice at all.
I have always thought that the best way to understand Andy’s work is to relate it most directly to its subject matter. That’s what he was interested in. He had very few unspoken motives. It’s remarkable how few critics actually take at face value what Andy himself said about his work, yet he’s remarkably lacking in guile.
Here is Richard Meyer on ‘The art-historical problem of Andy Warhol‘:
Rather than reinventing Warhol under the sign of this or that avant-garde artist, why not take his fascination with mass culture seriously? Why not look closely at the subjects and surfaces which Warhol actually worked — and worked over — rather than refer his art, yet again, to some earlier source within the history of modernism? Why not, for example, think seriously about Warhol’s roots as a commercial illustrator and graphic designer, about his expertise in the language of advertising and the solicitation of consumerist desire? Surely, Warhol’s commercial illustrations of the 1950s are no less relevant to his Pop art of the 1960s than are a set of Goya etchings or Schwitters collages. In positioning Warhol as a “classic modernist,” the retrospective not only suppresses his commercial expertise but also his identity as a queer artist. Questions of same-sex desire, effeminacy, and cross-dressing, not to mention the complex links between gay subculture and the mass media, deserve to be taken seriously within any full-scale retrospective of Warhol’s career. Such questions are all but ignored in the current show.