Q & A: Andy Warhol, Pop Artist

Q & A: Andy Warhol, Pop Artist

Andy Warhol often gets saddled with this whole godfather of the YouTube generation thing, and his "15 minutes of fame" has been oft quoted, misused, repeated, and has even been idiomized. In fact, in this magazine last year NYU journalism professor Adam Penenberg referenced and updated the quote, saying, "In the future everyone will have his own TV show. But instead of having 15 minutes of fame, you get 15 seconds over and over again." Well, it's hard to say what Andy would have made of Tila Tequila, but judging by this DOA Q+A we'd suspect he'd say she's an artist. Or maybe just a blank canvas.

[Phone rings, muffled voices on the other end, it clanks to ground, after some fumbling Warhol answers]

Andy, are you ready for the interview?
Um, yes.

Are people now content producers as well as consumers?
My prediction from the '60s finally came true: "In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes." I'm bored with that line. I never use it anymore. My new line is, "In fifteen minutes everybody will be famous."

What will be the affect of all of these subcultures existing in tiny niches?
Those who talk about individuality the most are the ones who most object to deviation, and in a few years it may be the other way around. Some day everybody will just think what they want to think, and then everybody will probably be thinking alike; that seems to be what is happening.

With the advent of citizen reporters, bloggers, and neighborhood news, is the larger news apparatus threatened?
I'm confused about who the news belongs to. I always have it in my head that if your name's in the news, then the news should be paying you. Because it's your news, and they're taking it and selling it as their product ... If people didn't give the news their news, and if everybody kept their news to themselves, the news wouldn't have any news.

What's an aspect of the connectedness we have from technology that you personally enjoy?
I'm the type who'd be happy not going anywhere as long as I was sure I knew exactly what was happening at the places I wasn't going to. I'm the type who'd like to sit home and watch every party that I'm invited to on a monitor in my bedroom.

How will technology democratizing creativity affect mass art and high art?
Mass art is high art.

How so?
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.

So, who is an artist?
I think an artist is anybody who does something well, like if you cook well.

Can consumption empower the consumer?
What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are good, Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it.

You've said much of your art -- from Brillo to the Last Supper -- is about "practical but impermanent symbols that sustain us." What would be the ultimate expression of this?
If I had $200,000 to spend I wouldn't waste it on buying paintings, I'd go to Macy's and spend it all on Jockey shorts. The kind of image I would like to project is that I can wear a fresh pair of Jockey's every day for the rest of my life without having to ever get them laundered. Buying is much more American than thinking, and I'm as American as they come. But, to be honest, it's not the thing I want so much as the idea of the thing.

That sounds awfully superficial.
I am a deeply superficial person.

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