When we hear about “Pop Art” the first things that come to mind are “Campbell’s Soup” and “Marilyn Monroe”. When we hear about “Pop Art” the first name that comes to mind is Andy Warhol.
Considered the most important artist of the movement that revolutionized fine arts in the 60s, Andy Warhol is often related to easy art.
Warhol used to sell a lot – that’s a fact. His portraits were coveted by the international elite and the personalities of his time. If Hollywood’s marketing was already based on the Star system, Pop Art was responsible for increasing the worship of celebrities, divulging them to the great masses and modeling the market of our time.
However, Pop Art artists were far from banality. Andy Warhol’s portraits – (Jackie O., Marilyn, Elvis etc) more than a mere divulgation of a myth – proposed, instigated, criticized and made fun of those stars, sometimes with a caustic and deteriorated look.
Before Pop Art became pop, the artists of the movement used to transit through disturbing themes. Warhol created, in the early 60s, a series of paintings focusing on suicide. Warhol took photos from newspapers (where the worship of pain was beginning to appear) and reproduced them on canvas, varying the quality of the images (from classical to grotesque, from kitsch to makeshift painting styles). In “Woman Suicide” he showed a woman in the air during her jump to death. Warhol’s painting is cruel and goes as far as to show the reflection of the woman’s body in one of the Empire State’s windows.
Those paintings are not usually seen in books. When you are in a museum and you see a group of tourists gathered around a Pop Art canvas, they will probably not be admiring those disturbing works. The Andy Warhol and Pop Art painters’ legacy has been diluted into the obvious but if now they are so respected (and if their names will last in Art History) it won’t be thanks to their ‘easy works’ but to masterpieces like “Woman Suicide”.
(by Itamar Dias)