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Psyche of an Artist > Andy Warhol

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message 1: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8396 comments Andy Warhol Was A Hoarder, And Other Mental Health Conditions Of History's Famous Figures
by Alexandra Phanor-Faury

Excerpts taken from the book:
Andy Warhol was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History's Great Personalities by Claudia Kalb

"The thing that really spiked our interest with Kalb's work was her research process – how does one ascertain that someone like Warhol was a shopaholic with a penchant for hoarding everything, even toenail clippings?... Kalb says she researched a ton of material from old journals, letters, published medical reports and autobiographies. She also interviewed many mental health experts and pioneers in the field.

Kalb stresses that her findings aren’t diagnoses of these subjects, but rather "unraveled hypotheses put forth by specialists." She takes a balanced approach in the book and makes it clear when questions still linger about the subject's condition, but also doesn't hesitate to question whether these individuals' accomplishments were fueled by their respective mental conditions.

Warhol refused to throw anything away. He incorporated his hoarding into his art. He collected around 600 time capsule cardboard boxes where he stored everything from old receipts to pizza dough.

These boxes have been displayed as art. While he collected lots of junk, it was clear from his journals that his reluctance to throw anything away caused him great anxiety and stress. He once wrote, "I’d love to have a really clean space."

message 2: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8396 comments Was autism the secret of Warhol's art?
By Vanessa Thorpe

The image of a tin of soup repeated across a canvas has always been thought of as Andy Warhol's ironic response to popular culture. But there is growing evidence that the late pop artist's love of repetition was actually a symptom of autism, the psychological disability that channels thought down unusual or 'eccentric' paths.

According to a paper submitted to the National Autistic Society, many of Warhol's artistic and behavioural traits bear marks of the condition. His social ineptitude, care to use the minimum of words in speech, difficulty recognising friends and obsession with the uniformity of consumer goods are each thought to be clues that Warhol was autistic to some degree.

It is fascinating how many of the things he did are typical of autism,' said Dr Judith Gould, director of Eliot House, Britain's leading diagnostic centre for autism and its milder, or 'higher functioning', form, Asperger syndrome. 'I would say, from the study I have seen, that Warhol almost certainly had Asperger syndrome.'

She believes that higher functioning forms of autism are often associated with prodigious talent and even with artistic genius.

The composer Ian Stewart, who first put forward the argument that Warhol was autistic, has also been diagnosed with a mild form of the condition. He says he was initially struck by hearing of the artist's obsessive buying of the same make of green cotton underpants. 'He describes the process so carefully in his autobiography A to B and Back Again that I was immediately reminded of autistic behaviour. He was convinced the green ones felt different to other colours.

'Warhol's routines are typical. It is the kind of thing people will have seen in Dustin Hoffman's portrayal of an autistic man in the film Rain Man.

The use of language is particularly telltale and, as Stewart points out, Warhol's interviews were famously monosyllabic and aped the vocabulary of teenagers. Good things were 'great' or 'really up There'. Commentators replies were just a stylish reaction to the amoral tone of the Sixties, yet a form of verbal dyslexia is often part of autism.

His impassive distance appealed to many alienated intellects in the Sixties, but when he said: 'I don't know where the artificial stops and the real starts', Warhol may have been more literal than critics have thought.

In a lasting put-down Truman Capote called Warhol 'a sphinx without a riddle'. There may have been a riddle to unravel after all.

message 3: by Heather, Moderator (last edited Jul 29, 2018 10:46AM) (new)

Heather | 8396 comments I thought this was very interesting. It is one man's perspective on the book written by Andy Warhol The Philosophy of Andy Warhol in 1975

I will post a few of his comments here. None of us are obligated or urged to agree with anything he is saying, I just think this article is an interesting read. It is how Aakash Singh, Reader in Philosophy, University of Delhi, South Campus, India sees the philosophy of Andy Warhol as he writes it in his own book.

Metapsychology online Reviews--Andy Warhol

"In The Painted Word, Tom Wolfe's brilliant exposé of the insecurity, egoism, avarice, and hypocrisy of the pioneers of American Modern Art, Andy Warhol is chosen by Wolfe as the archetype for the greedy upstart artist. Wolfe quotes with undisguised disdain and disgust a classified ad that in 1966 Warhol had printed in the Village Voice to the effect that he would endorse anything for money. For numerous intellectuals familiar with or interested in art or especially aesthetics, Wolfe's characterization was and still remains, more or less, the regnant take on Warhol. Andy Warhol, it is often pronounced, was a phony.

Warhol's autobiographical book from 1975, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, at first does very little to force one to change his or her opinion on this: it begins, in lieu of an introduction, with a transcript of a phone call between Warhol (who is called "A") and another unnamed person (who is called "B"), redacted by Warhol, who inserts his thoughts regarding the conversation into the text to create a narrative. This banal, at times even pathetic, 11-page introductory conversation is entitled "B and I: How Andy Puts His Warhol On," and it is ostensibly meant to inform the reader of Warhol's famous candor, his ability to speak critically of himself openly, and of some of his essential characteristics, such as the fact that he cannot bear to be alone (5). But what it instead conveys, especially to anyone even mildly suspicious of Warhol on account of presentations such as Wolfe's, is that Warhol is superficial, shallow and self-obsessed.

He is also full of contradictions. For example, though one of the first lines of the book is Warhol stating that he cannot be alone, he tells us in the first chapter--entitled, "Love (Puberty)"--that he is essentially a loner (23). He informs us that he did not have any psychological problems of his own (23), after already having narrated that he "had had three nervous breakdowns" when he was a child (21), and also describing in detail how pathologically jealous he was: "I get jealousy attacks all the time...I may be one of the most jealous people in the world....Basically, I go crazy when I can't have first choice on absolutely everything....As a matter of fact, I'm always trying to buy things and people just because I'm so jealous somebody else might buy them..." (49-50). No psychological problems indeed.

The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, then, presents the critical reader with a portrait of the artist as a shallow, egotistical, superficial, self-contradictory man. Tom Wolfe is vindicated--Warhol is a phony. But wait. Warhol is a phony what?

In chapter five, entitled "Fame," Warhol confesses something that actually begins to force the critical reader to reconsider the grounds of his negative attitude against him: "People used to say that I tried to 'put on' the media when I would give one autobiography to one newspaper and another autobiography to another newspaper. I used to like to give different information to different magazines..." (79). This is intriguing. Is that what Warhol is doing here, too? Is he providing just one among several possible autobiographies of himself? Indeed, Warhol published other books, other autobiographies, such as POPism: The Warhol Sixties and perhaps he enjoyed portraying a different Warhol in each of them.

And keeping this in mind, we must ask ourselves, what obligation does Warhol actually have to us, to his readers, not to dissemble, to fool around, to exaggerate or underplay, to seduce or mislead--aren't these partly the essence of art? While we are engaged in demanding of him, Will the real Andy Warhol please stand up?, Warhol, for his part, is sitting back and retorting, First prove to me why I should.

And I think he's got a point.

Although admittedly I started off in Wolfe's camp, and the first fifty pages of The Philosophy of Andy Warhol only serve to entrench a reader's negative biases, eventually, in middle chapters such as chapter 5, "Fame," chapter 6, "Work," and chapter 7, "Time," considerations such as those above mentioned began to eat away the ground of my critical stance. The reader begins to wonder, what right do I have to demand anything more from Warhol than his art?

This is not to say that Warhol is not a phony. Perhaps he is. But first it must be made clear by the accuser what he is a phony of. It is true that The Philosophy of Andy Warhol is not a great book. It lacks cohesive structure. For example, the later chapters (chapter 11, "Success," chapter 12, "Art," chapter 13, "Titles," and chapter 15, "Underwear Power") simply become short stories, which are entertaining and contain excellent dialogue, but have scarce connection to the first ten chapters. Furthermore, chapter 14 is a pointless waste of time. Additionally, in other chapters, such as 10, "Atmosphere," Warhol speaks of art and his preferences regarding space in a room and similar matters, and it is nearly impossible to believe that he really means a word of it. The book is bad. But on the other hand, Warhol never pretended to be a great writer. On the contrary, he admits that he wanted to write books only because many people he knew were writing books (jealousy) and of course he wanted to make money (greed).

In sum, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol may be a bad book by a jealous, greedy, dissembling, upstart artist. But through this bad book, my own opinion of this artist was slowly transformed from one of mild contempt into fascination and then ultimately both awe and respect. Perhaps Tom Wolfe is right, and Andy Warhol is a phony. But I must confess that Warhol won me over. Due to this book, I will now always be forced to query, upon hearing Wolfe's oft-repeated accusation, Warhol is a phony what?

message 4: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey Aronson (geaaronson) | 930 comments I believe it was Gore Vidal that commented that AW is the only artist with an IQ of 60-80. Interesting comment. I would suspect its truth.

message 5: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8396 comments I looked it up, an IQ of less than 70 is considered “mental retardation”. Hmmmm I’m not going to voice my opinion.

message 6: by Heather, Moderator (new)

Heather | 8396 comments I can tell he’s one of your favorite artists Geoffrey!

message 7: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey Aronson (geaaronson) | 930 comments Sorry, I respect that.

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