As someone who mass-produced images in the same way that corporations now mass-produce consumer goods, Andy Warhol’s art is an excellent reference point for post 1950’s humanity and our worship of brands and products.
Warhol was a different breed of artist, and in that era of great social upheaval and introspection he stood out as a man who constantly questioned everything. Along with John Lennon, Bob Dylan and other great minds of that moment they were entirely unsatisfied with being force-fed the American dream.
After an assassination attempt by a radical feminist, Warhol said; "I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it's the way things happen in life that's unreal”.
In 1987 the Beatles (minus the deceased song writer John Lennon) took Nike to court for unauthorised use of the song “revolution” in an advertisement. The anti-establishment themes in the song, contrasted with Nike’s overwhelming confidence that they could apply that to product sales, highlighting just how easily we role over and let big brands tickle our bellies.
George Harrison was quoted at the time as saying: ”Every Beatles song ever recorded is going to be advertising women’s underwear and sausages. We’ve got to put a stop to it in order to set a precedent. Otherwise it’s going to be a free-for-all”
Yoko Ono, Wife of Lennon and contemporary of Warhol obviously felt differently about it as in 1993 she allowed Nike to use Lennon’s song “instant Karma” in a separate advertisement, and in that very moment (probably) killed what was left of that spirit that elevated artists and musicians above the base art of advertising and sales.
I am sure Warhol would have had something to say on that. His amalgamation of art, commerce and celebrity is timeless. No doubt his work would find great relevance in the modern epoch.
So… Who will be the voices of the next generation to speak up? Clearly Beyonce has chosen her team...