Andy Warhol Eats a Cheeseburger

There's a wide-open shot for a lolcat joke here, but I think I'm gonna let it go.
Is it just me, or does it kinda seem like for the most part visual artists are kind of invisible lately? Not so much that you can't find their work if you're willing (and know where) to look, but more that it seems like there aren't really that many new artists out there worth the kind of notoriety that draws the casual observer into their work.
Quick, name the three hottest painters you can think of who are working right now.
..Because I can't think of any.
I don't know -- maybe I've got it all wrong and art has always been kind of a closed world and the people who's lives and work found their way into the public eye (Picasso and Dali, for example) were actually aberrations of some sort. I hope not though, because a lot of times when you don't have a chance to see someones work first, it's the personality of the artist that draws you in. Even if you don't really like or relate to what you find when you get there -- there's still something magnetic about the idea of an auteur.

You look at the world of film and music, and in a lot of ways it's all driven by the personalities and names. At times the music and movies almost seem secondary to the people involved -- not that I think that's a good thing, but it seems like these days you hear people talking in terms of "Did you hear David Lynch has a new film coming out?" or "I just read that Scott Storch is gonna be producing tracks on Kanye's new album -- gotta check that out."
Sure it gets played out sometimes, but think about it -- how do people
really discover art they wouldn't normally come in contact with?
Are there new visual artists out there for people to be excited about? Even in a backlash sort of way where one person's work prompts a reaction from others and spurs a whole new boom of work for people to experience?

Growing up, I remember reading a lot about Andy Warhol. His life as a graphic designer, his struggles to get his work shown, and the critical reaction (both positive and negative) that his pieces received. There were plenty of books that featured the Soup Cans and the Marilyn diptychs as examples of modern art -- but because his work specifically was so iconic you often had to dig a little deeper to appreciate what it was.

I don't know, it's hard to explain -- to me a lot of Warhol's work was about finding the artistic in the ordinary. About sharing in someone else's vision.
Almost like he was challenging you to see the soup cans the way he did -- and not just as, you know.. cans of soup.
Two summers ago when I was in New York I was finally able to visit the Museum of Modern Art and see his work in person -- and even though I kinda knew what it all looked like from the books I'd read, it was an incredible experience to just be there in that atmosphere with it. Not only because it's a piece of history, but because there was a power in it -- the colors were much more vibrant that I was expecting from pieces that old, and yet at the same time even in a place filled with unique pieces like MOMA, his work still felt completely singular.

It was like you turned this corner and found yourself in a room filled with Brillo pad boxes and things, and you couldn't help but ask yourself "is this supposed to be here?"
Only a moment later to be completely taken in by
the way that you knew in your heart that it was.
That's what always thought was great about his work -- the way it forced you to engage with it in order to decide how you felt about it.

I think a lot of times people in museums and art galleries go from picture to picture thinking "I like this one, I don't like this one, this is ok, that one is boring" etc. etc. It's a natural reaction, most painting and sculpture brings an emotional response. What Warhol managed to do in many instances was ask you to consider what you were emotionally responding to, and why.

It's not like you could look at his painting and say, "Well whats this supposed to be?" because the only thing it could be was a can of soup. As a result, you had to decide how you felt about someone deeming something like that as a piece of art, and kind of whether you agreed with him or not.

I like that. I like art that challenges you. I like music that's complex and occasionally ugly. I like books that make you think. And you're not always gonna know which ones those are just by looking at the cover -- sometimes you need to know a little about the writer, the filmmaker, or the musician in order to want to take the plunge.

click meSo much popular music, writing and film out there these days seems to be about type. Art has become so compartmentalized into genres and subcategories that really the only way to market anyone anymore seems to be connecting them to the things they're most similar to, instead of celebrating what makes them unique.

Here's the hot new rap artist (featuring a guest appearance by another hot rap artist to help give you a point of reference), this summer's best comic book adaptation movie has arrived, from the people who brought you the twisted mind of Stephen King comes the newest name in horror and suspense -- Basically the kind of thing where if you liked this then hold on to your hats because here's something just like it that's even better!

Maybe that's why I'm drawn to crossover art so much. People that mix styles, disregard boundaries, and try to redefine the forms they work with. The way I see it -- the periods where artists react to popular forms of expression either by revolting against it or adapting and assimilating it into something totally new -- are when art itself grows the most.
Which is probably what worries me the most when I think about the state of painting now.

[Listening to:    Romeo Void"Never Say Never" ]