The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol

I finally managed to finish reading this; I have been reading it as light relief in between perhaps more relevant and more theoretical books.

It was worth the read, it’s much less of a philosophy book, as a personal diary of the mundane life of Andy Warhol. He doesn’t write about what he is doing, and doesn’t explain his artworks but in a diaristic style, relates his conversations with friends, and is thoughts on everyday life, (which is philosophy I guess).

There were a couple of things I found interesting in this wee book. One was that Warhol refers to himself as A. and refers to the interchangeable friends and acquaintances around him as B.s. I think, in a way that this is how all of us relate to the world, but perhaps Warhol was the only one really brave enough to say, “my world revolves around me, and I think that’s okay”.

I think to a certain extent as artists, we need to have a certain degree of this kind of attitude. Enough to say; “what I am doing is worth the time/money/effort of making it, and is worth the time and effort of looking at and engaging with ”. Making art (and music) can be a really selfish activity, you need long hours ‘in the zone’, you need space to work, materials, input and critique and you need enough time away from a daily grind to be able to produce what you are after, or even to produce failures. Our own path needs to be important enough that even when other life stresses are getting in the way, the art making still retains it’s important position at the forefront of our lifestyle.

Recently I have been finding this difficult, to maintain, I have been feeling like I have been being selfish in my goals to pursue art (and to a lesser extent, music). I feel in a way Warhol’s ego driven view of the world has helped me to maybe put aside some of that guilt, kind of in a “well, he was much worse than me, so I’m not so bad” kind of way. (Hopefully now with my parents both out of hospital, I will have more time too!)

The second thing I found interesting was some of Warhol’s ideas around beauty. Most of the chapter on beauty is written on physical   human beauty but he has some interesting ideas around beauty that apply to art as well as people. I will leave off this writing with a quote from that chapter.

I really don’t care that much about “Beauties.” What I really like are Talkers. To me, good talkers are beautiful because good talk is what I love. The word itself shows why I like Talkers better than Beauties, why I tape more than I film. It’s not “talkies.” Talkers are doing something. Beauties are being something. Which isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just that I don’t know what it is they’re being. It’s more fun to be with people who are doing things. (Warhol, 1975, p.62).


2 thoughts on “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

  1. Would love to borrow that book, sounds great, I heard he talks about the experience of wearing makeup and earrings in his published writing. Reportedly he couldn’t understand why women would ever do it as it felt so heavy on his face! Don’t know why such a very basic observation is funny but it is! I guess its the image of Andy Warhol awkwardly walking around with his head hanging down, lolling from side to side.

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