With a major exhibition on the importance of Pop Art approaching in London, Jonathan Jones asks a simple question in the Guardian:
Is the cult of celebrity, the commodification of art and the business of success really Warhol’s legacy?
It’s a side of Warhol that has recently been highlighted by curators who are, I’m guessing, having a laugh by reacting against those who emphasise his serious side. It was also evident at the Hayward’s recent Warhol show. I, by contrast, am struck by the darkness and desolation of the artist’s vision – above all his Death and Disaster paintings of the 1960s: stark images of car crashes and suicides, grainily silkscreened from news photos and bathed in cool abstract fields of empty yet emotional colour.
I can see why people might want to rebel against the idea of Warhol as a serious artist. But the other night I came across a film that concentrated on the superstar Nico during a Velvet Underground jamming session in Warhol’s Factory. She’s disengaged, chatting and occasionally banging on a tambourine. When the camera slowly pulls back you see the rest of the band – and a small child, who I think is Nico’s young son. It is disturbing to see this unhappy child sitting with a rock band that’s rehearsing dark and disturbing anthems in such an adult setting. It makes you uneasy about the Factory, about Warhol.
Was Celebrity Really Warhol’s Legacy? (Guardian)