Before subversive memes, there was subversive pop art. Before Instagram, there were photo albums. Before Kim Kardashian, there was Andy Warhol. Warhol, the world’s greatest pop artist prided himself on his vapid nature, his vanity, his obsession with culture, and his love of the idea of celebrity, coca-cola, make up and ‘looking at pictures,’ among other things. A walking quote machine, Warhol said some incredible things in his time, while also being the voice behind very unique films which challenged the sexual and gender norms of his day. Warhol was primarily a visual artist and culture junky, running the famed artist collective space The Factory in New York, which hosted such talent as The Velvet Underground, and he was the creator of the infamous Campbell’s Soup Can series.
“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
Perhaps one of the most fascinating things about the charismatic figure is that he, in a way, predicted the rise of social media when he said “in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” In a world of Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, this prediction has all but come true with people going viral every day, only to be forgotten the next.
Between the years of 1958 and his death in 1987, Warhol carried a Polaroid camera around with him at all times, capturing candid photos of celebrities he spent time around, and creating a visual diary which was published as a book in 2015. He explained that his motivation behind taking regular shots was that “a picture means I know where I was every minute.” In the age of social media, when people share pretty much their entire life all the time, Warhol’s ideas are even more relevant. In this way, with his Polaroid portraiture series, perhaps he was the first Instgramer – chronicling all of his encounters, to share with his various followers. He also took Polaroid photos of himself – the original selfie artist perhaps.
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