Andy Warhol MOOC

Week 1: Celebrity > Class Notes:

Andy Warhol MOOC: Introduction by Glyn Davis

Warhol’s Celebrity paintings appropriated existing images. Appropriation is one of the main ways we associate Warhol with Pop Art.

Andy Warhol MOOC: video screen cap of Warhol MOOC instructor Glyn Davis

Glyn Davis

  • High Culture vs Pop Culture
  • What does artist add?
  • Repetition, Multiplicity, Ubiquity, Sameness, Consumer Culture

  • Screen Tests > his own film system

  • Manufactured his own celebrity style
  • moved from idolizing celebrities, to screenprinting them, to becoming the artist they wanted to be painted by

Interview with Fiontan Moran, assistant curator, The Tate

Pop Life: Art in a Material World, Tate Modern, 2009

‘Good business is the best art,’ Andy Warhol once provocatively claimed. Tate Modern’s hit autumn exhibition Pop Life examines how artists since the 1980s have cultivated their public persona as a product, and conjured a dazzling mix of media, commerce and glamour to build their own ‘brands’. Beginning with the grandfather of Pop, Andy Warhol, the show includes Jeff Koons’s infamous Made in Heaven series and his stainless steel Rabbit sculpture, an iconic array of golden spot and butterfly paintings from Damien Hirst’s record-breaking 2008 auction, and a reconstruction of Keith Haring’s Pop Shop in New York. Also included will be works by Richard Prince, Martin Kippenberger, and the notorious YBAs, and a new commission by Takashi Murakami.

Warhol Celebrities

His 60’s celebrities (not 70’s) became celebrities in his circle but never really managed move on from the Warhol association.

Andy Warhol MOOC: video screencap of Tate assistant curator Fiontan Moran

Fiontan Moran

  • Edie Sedgwick – conveyed glamorous persona / aura. On screen doing nothing, yet captivated audience. His dream of what a celebrity was. Beauty & Screen Presence.
  • Viva – attractive, also could talk for long periods of time on-screen. About 5 Warhol films then went on to publish 2 books and star in Midnight Cowboy.
  • Mary Woronov – Chelsea Girls (at about 18) (went to The Factory on a school field trip!) Used dominatrix / stern woman image in multiple works.

Screen Tests

How much they were able to be interesting in the camera.
Different types of people put in a situation: Salvador Dali, Susan Sontag
Mimicry & Parody of Hollywood system.

Warhol as a Brand (late 70’s, 80’s)

Warhol & Debbie Harry

Andy Warhol MOOC: Andy Warhol, Debbie Harry & a period computer on the cover of NME newspaperreference to his past work & contemporary celebrity

Interview Magazine

Started as a parody. Became a way for Warhol to meet celebrities. Open up his circle of associates. Get invited to more parties. Get more portrait commissions. Another kind of artistic product. Included banal interview details like “took phone call”, “lit cigarette”. Strange mix of celebrity and banal.

70’s – photos of Warhol or Bianca Jagger going to Studio 54 with a copy of Interview in their hand. Strange juxtapositions: Twiggy interviewing Kermit & Miss Piggy. A lot of different ideas, different ways of thinking about society. Warhol wrote really well about going out.

Interview still features celebrities interviewing celebrities and tries to depict nightlife, going out.

The Factory & Hollywood

“Factory” > Multiples
over time he wanted to make films
Hollywood: departments: makeup, hair, stylists, etc… Studio Stars…
Factory: Films, Paintings, Velvet Underground – studio of many activities

Reading: Benjamin, Warhol, and the Aura

by Steven Shaviro

  • Warhol portraits suggest that persona is also a commodity
  • Fetishistic Aura – projection of our exchange value that exceeds our material or utilitarian object value
  • You can only see an aura on people you don’t know very well
  • Walter Benjamin sees mechanical reproduction as the extinction of aura
  • you can make any number of prints, but there is no authentic or original

Edie’s Thoughts

Pop Art

Warhol’s Celebrity paintings appropriated existing images. Appropriation is one of the main ways we associate Warhol with Pop Art.
— Glyn Davis

But is Andy’s Pop Art “Modern” or “Postmodern”? I think Andy worked in a time of a lot of Modern art, but that his work is more about Postmodern ideas.


Andy’s pop multiples always seemed to have the double edge of critiquing and celebrating consumer culture. Maybe I was the flower that everyone wanted to pick. The girl that everyone wanted to consume.

Open Content

I see so many corporate logos and copyright notices for The Tate, The Warhol Foundation, etc on the website and videos for Warhol MOOC. I can’t say this is wrong. Andy did love money and business and success. Still, Andy was a shy, lonely outsider who appropriated media images with no one’s permission. Now Andy’s creativity is presented in an open MOOC with the fully locked down IP of the art corporation. Ironic. Or something. Success mirrors critique.

Does The Great Appropriator’s work have to be locked down forever? Why don’t these art corporations follow the lead of a growing number of cultural institutions with an Open Content Program? Andy’s work shouldn’t be as dead as me.

Twitter Reincarnation

Andy Warhol MOOC: Black and white photo of Edie Sedgwick in a striped top, gazing softly at the camera

It’s me!

I, Edie Sedgwick, Take 2, if you will, woke up on April 18, 2014, 2 days before what would have been my corporeal 71st birthday, and 3 days before the start of Glyn Davis’ Warhol MOOC.

I’m not here to be the Edie expert. Honestly I’m not that informed about my own history. And even if I literally were the reincarnation of corporeal Edie, I’m not sure how much of those dark and fuzzy times we would be able to, or willing to, remember.

What I am here to do is to participate in a MOOC that lets us think about a compelling artist. Besides Marshall McLuhan, I can’t think of anyone who understood our present, 21st century moment, better than Andy. I think this MOOC will contain ideas worth thinking about. I would like it to be an experience worth living in. And so, instead of taking this MOOC as “Alexis Smith, Publicist, London,” why not inhabit this experience as, well, me, Edie Sedgwick.

It’s so nice to meet you. I hope we’ll be friends forever!

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3 Responses to “Andy Warhol MOOC”

  1. In some texts on film we see the “unseen observer” that is the camera is authorial and moves on its own, we posit the subject, which in turn has its own glance or look, which becomes an objectification: spectatorship- in that Pop art is appropriation is there a post-celluloid way of looking at the image?

    • Thanks for visiting Scott! I think we all want to be special. I loved being in front of the camera 49 years ago, just as people love Instagram, Snapchat, and RealityTV today. Like anything else, the camera can be used cruelly. But I think at its heart it’s a chance to share a part of ourselves with whatever unknown and wonderful viewers our image might find its way to. Back in the 60’s images didn’t really have agency beyond what we gave them. Today the image bots crawl vast places like Flickr creating new visual experiences while we humans sleep.


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