Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pop Art (pt. 3)

It was Andy Warhol who defined Pop Art in America in the 1960s, and he did so with simple collage constructions of very well-known people and things.  This is a collage of negative photographs of Marilyn Monroe.
We see the famous movie actress in a variety of vivid and energetic colors—none of them quite right for a realistic image of Monroe.  Like Color Field painting, the color scheme of the work comes across as mostly random or arbitrary, but this time we get a clear image of something we can relate with.  Whatever is to be read into that goes largely unspoken; it's a given that everyone who looks at this will be thinking the same thing: "That's Marilyn Monroe."  Yet we are handed nine prints of the same thing, copied and structured evenly next to each other.  We are given in excess the image of this pop culture icon, and we may perhaps read into that.  A statement on glamour and publicity, this striking work of art catches our eye with many bright colors very much like the actress herself attracted attention from her audiences (and John F. Kennedy).  Seeing her in this light almost oversimplifies her allure—it's all merely colors and duplications; but no one can question that Monroe was one of Hollywood's most prolific actresses and, indeed, a symbol herself of the American lifestyle.  All the appeal and shallowness, the fascination and turpitude of pop culture comes out through the image.  The artist merely reproduces it and adds a simple stylistic touch of color and form (like a painting).

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