Warhol and the Importance of Moving in Two Directions
The artistic exhibition at the Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont was recently displayed as a celebration of architectures, of the 80’s, and will be followed by an exhibition of romantic art. Social disambiguation occurs when the work of great artists such as Warhol and Picasso glowers angrily across two exhibits in one museum at each other through their artwork. The liquid gel covered ‘Electric Chair’ marks a distinct and international call of recommendation of the actions which are portrayed in the oils, inks, and pastels of other artists.
This was not only a presentation in photography with the illustration, but also a moralistic behavior, a set of judgements which were as clearly stated as the ancient tablet from Sumer which lies cooly outside of the marbled exhibition room, dating from 2885 BC. Beyond the introduction of photographic display, a poster for a film about Jean-Michel Basquiat took the exhibition beyond the traditional mediums of art exhibition: the viewer is encouraged to find subject material outside of the exhibition itself. That is fitting for a walking artist such as Basquiat.
As an exploration of a specific time period, there is also a progression which follows both rooms of the exhibition. Underneath the weighty Egyptian collection sits a glaring representation of the emptied fast food restaurants of the strips of modern corporatism, and represent the dominance of franchise, all too soon after the corporation overtook the individual or family businesses. Electric lights still glare, and the spirit of a material wasteland is emphasized in a Butlins-style photograph which hangs out quietly around the corner. While this is just a photographic preparation for the directionality which is enforced by Picasso, there is also a transitive quality for one who starts with the exhibit room containing works by Warhol and Basquiat.
A final note should be offered to the nature of the mediums offered. Three-dimensional art, lists, even a feather is offered as a form of artistic representation in the exhibition. Pen and paper to crayons are offered to make more than a point, but to invert the message of the work into the sublime. Yet somehow, with the liberation of Namibia, also correctly called South West Africa prior to the independence, a certain curiosity is evoked among the trends which are being emphasized. An almost arrogant statement of this moment in history is rebuked by the celebration of what was accomplished in Butlin-style photography.
This was a moment of great hope for the world, and for Africa: as independence was won the rich world fought epidemics and poverty in quite the same numbers as even the poorest nations. It was a moment in history where it seemed as though a senseless reaper demanded equal destruction from each of the continents of the world, and these were artists who caught this phenomenon and questioned it. One of Andy Warhol’s favorite pictures, of what appears to be a young Lou Reed with his eyes nearly closed, is separated by a decade from the electric chair which would define Andy Warhol’s career and initiate greater controversy and discussion than any of the antics, deaths, pranks, or mischief which had marked him as an artist. For him, this was a symptom of barbarity sustained by the rank ignorance and dormant ardor of a system of values which was missing a cog, or a piece of some sort, something which is illustrated at a later point in the exhibit.