January 29, 2010
A is for Andy...
My first ode to inspiration is a tribute to Andy Warhol. The jacket above was painted for a charity auction. Knowing that all the items to be auctioned would be made from denim; my brainstorming session about what to paint went like this:
The word "denim" lead to blue-jean, which became Norma Jean (known for melancholy and often being a "blue" Jean) which was, of course, Marilyn Monroe's real name; and thinking of her immediately reminded me of Andy Warhol's silkscreen portrait of her. The other paintings on the jacket are his self-portrait and one of his diamond dust shoe silkscreens. A fun and worthy project to say the least.
"Stepping Out With Andy"
9 x 12, oil on canvas
And while everyone is familiar with Andy Warhol's films, Pop Art, silkscreens and obsession with celebrities; what do you know about him before he became famous? With training in graphic design, he moved to NYC immediately after college in 1949, and was very dedicated and hard-working; often delighting his clients by going the extra mile and providing several drawings to choose from. My painting above was inspired by his many shoe illustrations from the 1950s, a time when he was a very successful commercial artist/illustrator for these magazines: Glamour, Dance, Vogue, LIFE, Harper's Bazarre, and Charm. His early success right out of college stemmed from the fact that he often worked on marketing his products most of the day while creating his illustrations at night. Many publications had begun switching to photos for advertising but Andy's charming illustrations remained popular, due in part to his mastery of an illustration technique known as the "blotted line" --this discovery allowed him to transfer and reproduce many images as original works of art without the use of a printing press. Later, using "found" images from magazines and library books, he edited and stylized work that became his unique signature...which begs the question of what the copyright laws were in the 50s, but that is a post for another time.
He was equally known for his unique sense of humor, wit and clever viewpoint, and often presented drawings to his friends and clients as gifts. Supposedly, he once encountered actress Greta Garbo on the street. She was known for being extremely reclusive and not very welcoming to fans, so when he presented her with a drawing, she immediately crumpled it up and threw it to the ground. Instead of taking the rejection personally, he smoothed out the drawing and wrote "crumpled by Greta Garbo" on it. I adore this story, because it certainly seems to describe the innovative thinker he surely must have been. Instead of obsessing over the rejection, he simply noted, documented and celebrated the altered version of his drawing--no judgement, just a grand acceptance of "what is"-- a pretty awesome attitude to aspire to, and be inspired by.
And what most inspired him in those early years? Well, clearly his mother Julia played a huge part in his life. She lived in NY with him for several years, also painted; her preferred subjects being cats, angels and butterflies that bear a striking similarity to his own paintings of those same subjects. Also, he took a two month long trip around the world where he filled sketchbooks of what he saw along the way, visited museums, and learned Japanese gold-leaf techniques that later found their way into his own art. And, of course, living in NY allowed him to be inspired by museums, ballet, and the energy of the city and its inhabitants.
And quite honestly, I could go on and on; but you get the picture. There are many books written about him if you are interested in learning more, and the Andy Warhol Museum is located in Philadeplphia, where he lived before moving to NYC.
"Once you 'got' Pop, you could never see a sign the same way again.
And once you thought Pop, you could never see America the same way again"...andy warhol
Posted by FCP