For the last several weeks, I've been reading the book Warhol written by Victor Bockris. I picked it up for $1.00 at a yard sale over a year ago. I’m embarrassed to admit how little I knew about this artist’s life and his huge contribution to the art world. I would recommend the book to anyone interested in a lesson on how to succeed in art. After reading about Warhol and specifically his rise from obscurity to become not only America's, but the World's most renowned artist of the 60s, 70s and 80s, I'm even more encouraged that with hard work and vision, fame & fortune could be only a decade away. (smile)
Warhol documents his humble beginnings as an art student and an illustrator, who worked for such publications as Glamour, McCall's, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. The book also discussed the camaraderie and later the rivalry between himself and other up and coming artists of his time. One of the most interesting aspects about Warhol was his dedication to self-promotion. In fact, it was his hard work as well as his self-promotion that separated him from other artists. Andy Warhol knew at a young age that promoting himself would be a key element in his rise to the top. He spent nearly as much time with promoting his work and himself as an artist, as he did creating artwork. Good press/ bad press, both counted to him. They were tools in helping him reach his goal of becoming a household name. Warhol felt so strongly about gaining a media presence that he hired a publicist at an early age. In his later years, he would eventually develop his own press through his magazine, Interview.
The book infers that Andy Warhol was smitten by those in the limelight and expended considerable time trying to get close to them. Movie stars, rock stars and dignitaries all possessed a level of glamour and intrigue that Warhol of he wanted to be a part. It was this interest in being apart of this exclusive inner circle, which guide his efforts and his art. From the many events that he attended, the manner of dress, to his mannerisms, even to his choice of subject matter of his artwork were carefully executed to further his goal of reaching the top of his field.
Andy Warhol's work and life was always controversial. His artwork and self-promotion efforts placed him in news headlines and gossip columns throughout the world. He became one of the most sought after artist in history. His images of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, the Kennedy assassination, Muhammad Ali and Dick Tracy connected him to popular culture in a way experienced by no other visual artists.
Very few artists of our generation have been capable of promoting oneself and their art to achieve success on Warhol's level. Now I'm not suggesting that we should all paint our hair silver, act excessively demure and silkscreen large canvases of Bill and Monica--it may not be your style. While we could have heated discussions about the lengths self-respecting artists should go to in promoting their art, however, I encourage creatively thinking about the marketing of our art for in it could be the solution for those of us that are seeking fame & fortune.
If it is press that we are seeking, we must do work that makes an impression.