Embrace-Aversive

andy warhol mustard race riot

A detail of “Mustard Race Riot,” … Credit The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Rebecca Smeyne for The New York Times.

Do I love this painting? Love is not a word I would use to describe my regard for Warhol, which is high. He and his art are too trouble-makingly elusive and embrace-aversive for that. But this is true of some of the best history painters over the centuries — Goya, Géricault, Turner — and a history painter is what Warhol is. It’s a tough job, but every era in every culture needs someone to do it.

(Holland Cotter, “Warhol at the Whitney: Why This One Work Is So Stirring,” NYTimes, 3-21- 19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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4 Responses to Embrace-Aversive

  1. Eric Wayne says:

    Yeah, that’s it, Warhol is a “history painting” because his work is elusive and “embrace-aversive”. I like to say that just because some great art may be difficult to decipher, it doesn’t mean anything that is difficult to decipher is great art. Warhol has nothing to do with history other than holding up a mirror to his own time, selecting images that were already popular, and shifting them into the gallery context. Having assistants make a silkscreen of a newspaper photo is NOT the same thing as making a history painting, but, we must make whatever ridiculous argument is necessary to prop up the narrative.

    • JMN says:

      Good points. You address here some of what perplexes me about Warhol, how he worked, and what he was up to.

      • Eric Wayne says:

        If the art world were dismissing him, I’d probably find myself pointing out his virtues. My problem with him has to do with him being so overrated, and then what he stood for not being very interesting. But, I think the superficiality and breezy fashion is precisely what the rich find so appealing about him. To each his own.

      • JMN says:

        You nail something when you mention “breezy fashion.” Again, well put. I posted something today about his cow pictures that I found hilarious and breezy in its way, comments by someone named Karp. It seems Warhol and his circle had a knack for being provocative and dismissive in a titillating way! After all, “The Factory” — Please! The notion of an art factory was “outrageous” and tuned to its moment.

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