September 2018 | Aurora Garrison
What are the top 10 Andy Warhol quotations of all-time? You’d be surprised! What makes Warhol so predictable is his unpredictability. His verbal wrong-footed quotations are part of American art and our popular culture. Warhol is part- commercial artist and part- pop artist, talk show host, director, photographer, fine artist, novelist and international celebrity. He was never at a loss for words, no matter what hat he was wearing.
Warhol celebrates both his personality and his iconic brand playing against type. And from Warhol, we always expect nothing less than the unexpected.
So here it is, the top 10 most famous Warhol quotations of all-time. We are counting down from number 10 to number 1. Revolver Gallery has gathered Warhol’s most famously outrageous quotations and juxtaposed them to 10 Warhol works of art by way of further illustrating and defining the artist’s quotations.
In his work The Shadow, Warhol reveals his two-layered approach to art: make it visually different and take graphic risks. He also shows something that is unquietly Warhol—the artist as his own work of art.
Many art pundits and critics have said that Warhol’s greatest artistic creation is himself. Indeed, the glasses, the wigs, the plastic surgery and the deadpan cool persona all make Andy Warhol his own, personal Pygmalion. In Greek mythology, Pygmalion fell in love with one of his sculptures, which then came to life. Warhol did the opposite—he created himself from life into an icon of celebrity and art. This sleight of hand reveals the secret of the art as magician’s trick, as Warhol states, “But to become a famous artist you had to do something that was ‘different’.”
No other artist has created so many art works with himself as art subject. And here, in his work The Shadow, Warhol hides in plain sight with his art and himself as the subject. How can we separate the dancer from the dance? Everyone who sees a Warhol instantly recognizes the artist behind the canvas. How many artists in all of history is this too true? Warhol not only reveals himself on canvas, but he infers the artist in the process. This, in The Shadow, Warhol shows us two literal dimensions of Warhol—the artist as subject and his shadow, the visage behind the canvas. Ironically, Warhol uses no brush in this work of art to paint his self-portrait. His art leaves no evidence, no clues in the brushstrokes. He is invisible and at the same time obvious. This is the irony and passion of Warhol’s intellectual creations. He prods, provokes and makes us think.
Warhol On Art, Quote #10: “But to become a famous artist you had to do something that was ‘different’. And if it was ‘different’, then it means you took a risk, because the critics could have said that it was bad instead of good…They always say new art is bad for a while, that’s the risk – that’s the pain you have to have for fame.”
In his work The Shadow, Warhol reveals his two-layered approach to art: make it visually different and take graphic risks.
Warhol On Success, Quote #9: “A person’s personality doesn’t show in their face until they’re old. There’s something about the force of a personality that comes through. So a ‘popart’ should be flattering, in the sense that it’s a reflection of a positive part of the person’s personality.”
In Warhol’s portrait of Edward Kennedy he shows his unique approach to portraiture that in his simplistic and graphic boldness, color and style, Warhol elevates his subjects much like the early icon painters did with their portraits of saints, creating celestial windows into heaven. Here, Warhol creates iconic portraits of celebrities, politicians, and athletes, elevating them into stars.
Warhol On Death, Quote #8: “I don’t believe in it, because you’re not around to know that it’s happened. I can’t say anything about it because I’m not prepared for it.”
Warhol, after his infamous shooting in 1968, was clinically dead before heroic measures on the operating table saved his life. Death consumed Warhol. The subject of death mesmerized him. His dance with death resulted in unique and startling images as Warhol the artist confronted and painted the images and fears tormenting Warhol the man. In Skull, Warhol captures death on canvas. Warhol the artist has the last laugh on death as Warhol lives on in his art and his artistic legacy.
Warhol On Time, Quote #7: “I always think about the people who build buildings and then they’re not around anymore. Or a movie with a crowd scene and everybody’s dead. It’s frightening.”
Warhol found comfort in his Catholicism and in his celebration of religious-themed art such as Leonardo Da Vinci, The Annunciation. Here, Warhol depicts the timelessness of the Annunciation (circa 1472 – 1475), taking the Da Vinci classical representation and dramatically—through surreal colors and Warhol’s high-contrast of lines and imagination—creates a universal, timeless and surreal landscape showing two hands, one heaven-sent (Gabriel’s) and one earthbound (Mary’s). The resulting space between the two hands is both divine and timeless.
Warhol On Fame, Quote #6: “But being famous isn’t all that important. If I weren’t famous, I wouldn’t have been shot for being Andy Warhol. Maybe I would have been shot for being in the army, or maybe I would be a fat school teacher. How do you ever know.”
Beyond all artists of all time, no artist better understood the concept of fame. Famous himself, Warhol sought out and captured fame in others through his art, such as Flash, his portrayal of JFK’s assassination.
Warhol On Beauty, Quote #5: “When a person is the beauty of their day, and their looks are really in style, and then the times change and tastes change, and ten years go by, and if they keep exactly their same look and don’t change anything and if they take care of themselves, they’ll still be a beauty.”
Warhol was mesmerized by beauty. As an artist, beauty is his muse. He once famously said, “Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.” This is the philosophy of Warhol distilled into its essence: he creates in his art the beautiful that others fail to and cannot see.
What empowers Marilyn Monroe Full Suite is Warhol’s use of the literal depiction of “10 faces of Marilyn” as the obvious subject matter, but the subtext is the pain and suffering of her life as a celebrity and icon of Hollywood. It is impossible to gaze at Marilyn Monroe Full Suite without thinking. His image inspires both glamor and loathing. In effect. Warhol is asking, “What do you see, what do you feel, when you see Marilyn?” Warhol offers no answer. However, as a provocateur, he asks the question that cannot be glibly or succinctly answered. He is an artist.
Warhol On Work, Quote #4: “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art…but making money is art and working is art and Good Business is the best art.”
Warhol was an artist, an icon, a celebrity and a businessman. This art, Dollar Sign, celebrates all three visages of his personality, simultaneously.
As a provocateur, Warhol’s art is thought-provoking. The Warhol Campbell Soup Cans depict how Warhol is subliminally obvious. He hides his art in plain sight and in common, forgotten images ripped from the consumerism of daily life.
For example, a person sees Warhol’s Tomato Soup Can painting on a larger, bigger than life canvas. They may immediately think, “That’s not art” or “I could have painted that”. And that is when Warhol gets his audience to enter his rabbit hole. Down we descend. Because if a can of soup is not art—then what is art? Warhol wins, without even trying—he’s just using soup cans. Warhol goes further, as an artist, he taunts us with his famous quotation, “Art is what you can get away with.” Again, Warhol is begging us to ask the question: “What is Warhol getting away with?”
Art to Warhol is expansive, it is not drawing limitations of exclusivity. Warhol accomplishes with one soup can what no one has done before him—he created an artistic revolution, with, of all things, a soup can. He changes the literal course of art and art history with one image of a coup can.
And nothing can be more obvious. He created subliminal nuance and thought on art and what art is and is not with the most superficial and ubiquitous item in American culture. Warhol did an about-face from the 1950s abstract impressionism, and with a soup can, created Pop Art which is a return to reality. No one needs to tell you what to see in a Warhol work of art. You can determine what the image is and if it is art. This is the artistry in Warhol’s art. He returned art to the people, wrestling it away from elitists.
Warhol On “The Tingle”, Quote #3: “I have no memory. Every day is new because I don’t remember the day before. Every minute is like the first minute of my life.”
Warhol used art as a memory device. He made the unseen visible through his art, and through repetition, as depicted here in Campbell’s Soup Can Complete Portfolio.
Warhol On Economics, Quote #2: “I like money on the wall. Say you were going to buy a $200,000 painting. I think you should take that money, tie it up, and hang it on the wall. Then when someone visited you the first thing they would see is money on the wall.”
Only Warhol can say with a straight face that we should hang money itself on the wall instead of works of art. How many do you think believed him?
Warhol On Love, Quote #1: “Taxi drifted away from us after she started seeing a singer-musician who can only be described as The Definitive Pop Star – possible of all time…I missed having her around, but I told myself that it was probably a good thing that he was taking better care of her now, because maybe he knew how to do it better than we had.”
Taxi was Warhol’s pseudonym for Eddie Sedgwick.
These quotations show how Andy Warhol’s philosophy is reflected in his art. All quotations are from, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), published in 1975.