Ever since moving to Pittsburgh, I've kinda been avoiding the Warhol Gallery. I don't like
Warhol. I don't generally care for pop art (although this is pretty cool
But, a friend volunteers/works there and managed to score tickets to a beer tasting. Hey, free beer? I'll take a look at any art gallery if free beer is involved.
The local brewery they chose, Stoudt's, didn't have much to offer that I was blown away by. Good, but not spectacular stuff. Very Belgian style, even in their "American" beers. But that's not the real point of this post.
After enjoying a generous helping of beer, we took a stroll through the gallery. A lot of it, unsurprisingly, was dedicated to Warhol himself. There were some other modern installations too. And it was all, generally, crap. As I'm walking through there, seeing wall after wall of celebrity snapshots and pop culture ephemera, "recontextualized" as art, it really struck me:
If pop art were a person, it would be the gum-snapping coworker in the cube over from you with some ear-wormy ringtone on the too-loud-cellphone that natters on and on and on about Branjelina and Brestica or whatever while gossiping about how great the next "Sex and the City" movie is going to be.
That's my take away from the Warhol gallery. A large amount of pop art focuses on taking the inane, vapid and annoying and "recontextualizing" it as art. The result is art that is inane, vapid and annoying.
Now, after venting my spleen, let me cushion the blow with a hint of perspective. A large part of my reaction is that it simply hasn't aged well. The reason people appreciate Warhol is that he altered the definition of what constitutes art. That's not entirely a good thing, and he was certainly standing on the shoulders of giants, like Duchamp. But teleporting myself back to the 50s and 60s, seeing giant Elvises shooting at me from a wall would be jarring, and that's obviously the desired effect.
One solace in the Warhol gallery: Warhol hated Pittsburgh. Reviled it. So, the fact that the town has a little shrine to him and has named a bridge after him stands out as a little "fuck you" to Warhol, and I can live with that.