Coca Cola Controversy and The Enduring Impact of The Ever Interesting Andy Warhol | Fire in My Belly, and Fright in my Wig - Revolver Gallery

Coca Cola Controversy and The Enduring Impact of The Ever Interesting Andy Warhol | Fire in My Belly, and Fright in my Wig

Coca Cola is using Warhol’s famous insight into American Culture in their latest super bowl ad. Contemporary America is very divided, with our 2 party system furthering entrenchment of each party and forcing a binary us versus them mentality, Coke has produced a rallying cry around which all people can unite. As Warhol, and Coke now, have said “You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know the president drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke, and no amount of money can get you a better Coke.”1 Ironically, the recipe of Coke does change by country so a Coke is only a Coke if we are both Americans; what does this say about globalization, about economic inequalities, about what is just below surface level? I’ll leave those ideas for a brain far smarter than mine, what is undoubtedly true however is that “Warhol had a great connection to Coke over time because of his art,” said Jennifer Healan, group director of integrated marketing content Coca-Cola North America. She went on to say “And his quote from 1975 is as timely today as it was back then. And what we love about it is it celebrates our values — values about inclusion, about diversity overall. But at the end of the day, a Coke is a Coke is a Coke, and all of the Cokes are the same.” Sort of.

In Denver, through the 24th of February there is an exhibition of Warhol curated and organized by Warhol’s lifelong friend and founder of the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, Mark Sink.2 The exhibition features gallery-staff made silk screens presented in conversation with personal photographs and memories that Sink has decided to share. There is also an exhibition of Warhol drawings at the New York Academy of Art. The exhibition features Warhol hand drawings made between 1948-1985, organized not chronologically but thematically. Almost every drawing in the exhibition has rarely been seen before, as all are coming from personal collections of art gallerists: Daniel Blau, Paul Kasmin, and Anton Kern.3 Warhol himself famously played an integral role in the creation of The New York Academy of Art, which was founded in 1982.4

1 https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/Ad-Meter/2019/01/24/super-bowl-ad-coke-uses-theme-andy-warhol-quote/2668169002/
2 https://303magazine.com/2019/01/andy-warhol-quotes-mark-sink-denver/
3 http://www.artnews.com/2019/01/03/new-york-academy-art-present-exhibition-andy-warhols-drawings/4 https://nyaa.edu/about/

 

In 2010 the National Portrait Gallery put on an exhibition titled “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” wherein the artist David Wojnarowicz’s video art piece Fire in My Belly is a pointed attack on traditional masculinity as well as a nuanced statement on the “reality of the AIDS epidemic in Latin American Culture,” to quote Martin E. Sullivan who was the director of the National Portrait Gallery at the time. 1 Those familiar with Wojnarowicz will know that where the Wojnarowicz name goes, controversy will follow. In 1990 Wojnarowicz sued The American Family Association , who are a highly conservative organization of Catholics, and won the case.2 Wojnarowicz’s piece received strong backlash from the US Christian community who claimed the piece was blasphemous due to scenes of ants crawling across a crucifix. The National Portrait Gallery decided to take the piece out of the exhibition. In response many artists and arts organizations passionately protested, screaming that The National Portrait Gallery was caving to the wishes of a tyrannical minority, blatantly censoring the possibility of art.3

The Warhol Foundation was a leading sponsor of this event, but felt strongly that such actions represented blatant censorship, which goes against core tenets of the Warhol Foundation. In a show of their passionate disdain for such censorship in the arts, The Warhol Foundation announced a ban on any funding given to the Smithsonian. On January 11th, 2019 The Warhol Foundation announced that it has overturned the ban; The Warhol Foundation President, Joel Wachs, has stated that he believes that the “ban has had its intended effect of promoting freedom of artistic expression at the national level.”4 In conjunction with this announcement, The Warhol Foundation is awarding the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian $100,000 for the purposes of putting on an exhibition of the Native American artist Oscar Howe. After almost a decade of The Warhol Foundation suspending support of the Smithsonian, and all its many arms and branches, “The Smithsonian has also demonstrated a strong track record of highlighting underrepresented artists over the past eight years, which aligns well with the Foundation’s core values” said Joel Wachs.

Curious to see the video that sparked such a controversy? Click here.

1 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/11/arts/design/warhol-foundation-smithsonian-ban-lifted.html 

2 https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/745/130/1612735/
3 https://warholfoundation.org/foundation/35_detail.html?page=1
4 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/11/arts/design/warhol-foundation-smithsonian-ban-lifted.html

 

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