you 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.

and this is when pop art began…

32 cans x campbell’s soup = canned soup + mass production  + mass consumer + art
1 x marilyn monroe = pop icon + 3 x divorces + 2 x miscarriages + ectopic pregnancy + suicide + mass admirers + art
1 x car crash news = tragedy + death + current events + mass audience + art

Campbell's Soup Cans, 1962

the subject of andy’s work, the campbell’s soup cans, marilyn, and snapshots from tabloids, seems so different, yet there is one thing that they’re in common: we’re all familiar with them. we all know what campbell’s soup is; we all know who marilyn monroe is; we’re all in touch with the current affairs and news that surrounds us. these subjects are all aimed at a wide audience and we come into contact with them on a daily basis: products found on a supermarket’s shelf, celebrities and their gossips, news in the media. so why should they be set in rigid contexts? a can of campbell’s soup should have the same potential to be the subject of a piece of artwork as a bowl of fruit, a vase, or other commonly used still life objects; news and gossips you read every morning had already become part of the society and people’s daily routine. and are celebrities superior to the non-celebs? marilyn monroe is just like you and me, a human being who is subjected to mortality. and as andy famously said,

in the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.

so why do we care about the famous and the rich?

andy, 1950 NYC

i think everyone wants to be famous to some extent but what makes the non-celebrities inferior to the celebrities? why do the famous always get the best table in the restaurant, jump queues and get freebies all the time? is it a mere show of respect? like the exaggeration of opening a door for a lady or giving your seat to an old man? but that doesn’t explain why we are so drawn to celebrities?  is it because of their good looks? because you like the role they act in? or you think they’re cool, they’re nice, they’re hip? how do we know it’s not just a lie? has celebrity gossiping become a part of our daily life? like brushing our teeth, putting the kettle on, and drinking tea? or is it because, as human beings, we are social animals and we feel a certain affection for other fellow human beings. well, then shouldn’t we care about the guy who we sat next to on the tube on the way to work? why don’t paparazzi follow us around? why is it that celebrities’ personal lives are constantly being exposed to the public? yes, we may be just innately nosy but you can’t deny that there is a certain something in celebrities that draws our attention.

self-portrait (fright wig), 1986

so what do you think warhol sees in a celebrity? and what made him turn himself into a celebrity? his very first step of turning into a celebrity when that he invented a new persona: he completely changed his wardrobe,  he made wigs for different emotions, and he put on a coolface. he instantly clicked into his role when he puts on his andy-suit. is it a natural evolution of fame? or is it one of his projects of having a first-hand percepton of being a celebrity? some may think he just wants fame, and yes this may be part of it, but is he also trying to prove a point? why do you think, before the public’s eyes, he is always that expressionless and emotionless person in the andy-suit, while secretly, he is as compassionate to his family as any ordinary guy? perhaps that andy-suit allowed him to fully play his role as the ‘hollow celebrity’, which tells us that celebrities are human too, and what we see in a celebrity is just their candy-coating.

10 marilyns, 1967

let’s face it, we all do it. the pictures we share on facebook, the blogs we wrote, the clothes we buy – aren’t we just trying to create our own image? an image that the people outside your candy-coating sees? it’s becoming an increasingly philosophical question – are we who we are? who are we? are we merely what we portray ourselves to be? i think we all do it to a greater/lesser degree. i think i can find at least five different me – the artistic joie, the eccentric joie, the wannabe joie, the caring joie, the can’tbebothered joie, the stressed joie, the studious joie, the healthy joie, the notsohealthy joie… oh, so that’s more than five different sides of me. but what other people see of me is usually just the sides i want them to see: the good, the caring, the healthy, the happy… other people’s perspective of us is just a reflection of what we want ourselves to be. and those who see all the sides of you, are part of you. what do you see in the variations of marilyn that andy printed? is he trying to express the different sides of marilyn that the public never sees? after all, she’s only human.

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