Between pop and chic

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Between pop and chic

By Héctor Mellinas

According to the Dictionary of the Spanish Language (DRAE), pop, an abbreviation of popular, is the American art movement inspired by the more immediate aspects of the consumer society, and chic describes something that is elegant and fashionable. The American artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987) is the epitome of chic, even today.

The avant-garde movement is generally known as the art of revolution and, in the middle of the 20th century in America, a trend emerged which took art from the higher echelons of society and brought it to the masses; that is the main goal of pop art. The artistic expressions found in this movement seek to make art that uses elements that represent the most mundane aspects of everyday society, with little depth, such as adverts or easy-to-follow literature, such as comics.

Marcel Duchamp originally found beauty in the disposable in his objets trouvés; however, pop went further: it sought to establish the brand that embodied the United States, the image that had become the hallmark of society in that era. And Andy Warhol found it: Campbell’s Soup.

Warhol is behind two of the most famous quotes, the first of which goes something like we all deserve 15 minutes of fame; in the second he reflects on the distinctive nature of his art, collectively recognized as such and an expression of himself, so Warhol used art as a means of achieving intimacy.

When he entered the world of art and, at the same time, came out as gay, Warhol created a surreal and dreamlike world around himself, fuelled by underground drug use. In true Dalí style (another avant-garde artist, unique, surreal, European), he created a persona around himself. He was acclaimed by New York society and artists of the calibre of Marilyn Monroe (whose art is posthumous, a tribute that Warhol paid to her so that everyone could see the “real” Marilyn face-to-face), Liza Minnelli and Liz Taylor put themselves in his hands.

And if Warhol, at his very best, made poetry from the mundane (the film Sleep, a film that lasts for over 5 hours, in which all we see is his partner sleeping), other avant-garde artists responded by following different artistic paths, like Henri Matisse (1869-1954).

Matisse, a French painter who was heir to cubism at its most revolutionary and one of the fathers of modern art, devoted himself to papiers collés, a type of impressively large collage that redefined art’s capacity to integrate concepts and open the mind of the person viewing the piece to interpret the artist’s message, unlike Warhol, who by mechanizing art, tried to eliminate every trace of the artist from his works.

Imágenes de piezas de Andy Warhol y Henri Matisse.

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Keywords in this post: Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, art, painting

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