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Title:Blowing Warhol's cool: Decoding the sixties work
Author(s):Schuweiler-Daab, Suzanne
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fineberg, Jonathan
Department / Program:Biography
Art History
Art History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Art History
Abstract:This dissertation suggests a new understanding of the art of Andy Warhol by analyzing the personal iconography of his images. Warhol's "hands-off" painting technique, his apparently random retrieval of received images, as well as his cool public persona mask the works' highly autobiographical content.
Following the introductory first chapter, the dissertation examines the development of Warhol's Pop aesthetic, including such influences as other artists, his personal biography and the youth sub-culture of the early sixties.
The third chapter looks at Warhol's iconoclastic overturning of artistic and social hierarchy through his appropriation and re-coding of mass media imagery. Warhol's iconoclasm partially reflects his gay sensibility, the subject of the fourth chapter. This discussion on the gay aesthetic in Warhol's art demonstrates the camp masking of autobiographical and sexual references.
Chapter five of this dissertation focuses on the sexual and commodity fetishism exhibited in Warhol's paintings. The paintings depict obsessive reverence and mutilation of fetish objects, implying a fear of intimacy and an association of intimacy with death.
Closely connected with Warhol's fetishism is the influence of his Catholicism on his iconography, the subject of chapter six. Warhol's mechanized depiction and obliteration of commodities comments on modern society's replacement of religious fetishes with consumer fetishes and the substitution of the authentic with empty signifiers. As religious metaphors, Warhol's work exorcises his sense of the void and his fear of death by elevating the profane to the sacred through an incantatory repetition, while, at the same time, the images frequently remind one of the capriciousness of death.
Chapter seven concentrates on the relation of the early Warhol films to the paintings. This chapter demonstrates the conceptual and aesthetic unity of Warhol's work.
This thesis concludes that Warhol's paintings and films concern ontological issues regarding his own existence and mortality. Ironically, Warhol's "cool" expressed the artist's reflections on the contingency of his fate, his isolation, the inessentiality of his being, as well as a desperate sense of freedom and personal responsibility in the face of death--classic concerns of the existentialists.
Issue Date:1992
Rights Information:Copyright 1992 Schuweiler-Daab, Suzanne
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9305687
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9305687

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