Andy Warhol and the Can that Sold the World

( 1 )


In the summer of 1962, Andy Warhol unveiled 32 Soup Cans in his first solo exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles—and sent the art world reeling. The responses ran from incredulity to outrage; the poet Taylor Mead described the exhibition as “a brilliant slap in the face to America.” The exhibition put Warhol on the map—and transformed American culture forever. Almost single-handedly, Warhol collapsed the centuries-old distinction between “high” and “low” culture, and ...
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Andy Warhol and the Can that Sold the World

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In the summer of 1962, Andy Warhol unveiled 32 Soup Cans in his first solo exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles—and sent the art world reeling. The responses ran from incredulity to outrage; the poet Taylor Mead described the exhibition as “a brilliant slap in the face to America.” The exhibition put Warhol on the map—and transformed American culture forever. Almost single-handedly, Warhol collapsed the centuries-old distinction between “high” and “low” culture, and created a new and radically modern aesthetic.

In Andy Warhol and the Can that Sold the World, the dazzlingly versatile critic Gary Indiana tells the story of the genesis and impact of this iconic work of art. With energy, wit, and tremendous perspicacity, Indiana recovers the exhilaration and controversy of the Pop Art Revolution and the brilliant, tormented, and profoundly narcissistic figure at its vanguard.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher


Buffalo News
“Elegant and impressive…[a] witty, smart, near-definitive consideration of Warhol.”

San Diego Tribune
“Gary Indiana’s Andy Warhol and the Can That Sold the World is a fresh portrait of the artist…No one has dissected Warhol’s complex personality better. And no one has written more concisely and accessibly about him.”

Lincoln Journal Star
“Heartily recommend[ed]…I’ve got a shelf of Warhol books — biographies, essays, exhibition catalogs — and I’ve seen dozens of exhibitions of his work. Indiana’s book added something to my knowledge and understanding of Warhol, which is saying something.”

Baltimore City Paper
“A thoughtful look at the late Pop artist’s defining work…in narrowing his focus, the author locates and captures Warhol’s essence.”

Liberty Press
“Indiana is able to give a fresh and new perspective on one of America’s most enigmatic 20th-century artistic figures, beyond any other biography heretofore.”

Publishers Weekly
The latest from cultural critic and author Indiana (Utopia's Debris) explores the legacy of Andy Warhol through his most famous and, arguably, groundbreaking work, 1962's Campbell's Soup Cans, a group of 32 20"x16" paintings of the ubiquitous red-and-white canned staple. Beginning with a brief look at Warhol's impoverished childhood, Indiana focuses in on the creation and impact of the famed Soup Cans, resulting is an exhaustive report on the Pop Art movement and its relationship to contemporary culture, featuring vibrant commentary on the way a single piece can stand in for an entire oeuvre. Indiana is highly knowledgeable regarding the art world and Warhol's work, and can assume a similarly sophisticated level of understanding in his reader; as such, he will probably leave casual fans behind with dashed-off discussion of the art scene at large. For those already fluent in the man or the movement, Indiana's in-depth look at Soup Cans is a welcome refresher on the power of a single vision not just to make a remarkable career, but to recast the world in a new light.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Incisive look at how Warhol's iconic Soup Cans paintings sparked the Pop Art movement, bringing American artists-Warhol especially-to the forefront of artistic and sociological discourse. Prolific cultural critic Indiana (The Shanghai Gesture, 2009, etc.) presents a concise yet highly illuminating treatise on the paintings' significance. During a period saturated with the art of the Abstract Expressionist movement, Warhol's entree to the scene, both in terms of his banal subject matter and ambiguous sexuality, was met with mixed reviews. His Soup Cans, lacking the technique and complexity that marked the success of big names like Pollock or de Kooning, were initially dismissed by critics as boring. But soon the importance of Warhol's artistic commentary gained traction, and his symbolic aesthetic was recognized as '60s America reflected in high art. By echoing his obsession with media and pop culture in his images, Warhol tapped into the psyche of a public whose intrigue with art was stymied by Abstract Expressionism's very abstractness. Indiana writes that "Warhol's cans demonstrate that modern reality is mediated through the symbolic," and that his paintings are a "projection of everything that can be bought and sold, the practical but impermanent symbols that sustain us." Warhol's meteoric rise to fame brought with it a completely innovative approach to the art scene, culminating in The Factory, his infamous studio that was constantly filled with oddballs, ingenues, actors and artists. The Factory's silkscreen production line was in itself a projection of commercial culture, and yet each painting was unique. Warhol's genius lay in recognizing how to select the right subjects at theright time-from Marilyn to Mao-in order to elicit cultural self-recognition from viewers. It was only fitting that Campbell's soup, a product Warhol was forced to eat for lunch each day of his childhood, was the first image he chose to immortalize. Indiana's witty, insightful analysis brings refreshing intellect to a well-worn period of American art history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465002337
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 2/9/2010
  • Pages: 175
  • Sales rank: 1,260,386
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary Indiana—novelist, playwright, actor, art critic, film historian—is one of the most supple and imaginative figures in contemporary American culture. He is the author of numerous plays, novels, and works of nonfiction, including Horse Crazy, Rent Boy, and Utopia’s Debris. Formerly the chief art critic for the Village Voice, Indiana has also written for the Los Angeles Times Book Review, New York magazine, Artforum, and the London Review of Books. He lives in New York City.
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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 Abjection and Epiphany

Ch. 1 The Boy on the Hill 3

Ch. 2 Leap of Fate 19

Ch. 3 Pop Art: Surf's Up! 61

Pt. 2 Figment

Ch. 4 Inside Anarchy's Rising Tide 79

Ch. 5 Mass Production 99

Ch. 6 That One Painting 121

Ch. 7 Portrait of the Image as "Important" Artist 147

Acknowledgments 157

Notes 159

Index 163

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Customer Reviews

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