5/9/08 - warhol and plastic

In today's excerpt - Pop Art icon Andy Warhol (born Andrew Warhola 1928 - 1987) and plastic:

"A brief item in the New York Times on April 12, 1966, reported that a 'summons for operating without a cabaret license was served on Plastic Inevitable, a discotheque operated on St. Mark's Place by Andy Warhol, pop art entrepreneur.' Bored with painting and filmmaking, Warhol had invented the multimedia happening in a rented hall east of Greenwich Village. The Exploding Plastic Inevitable was the preeminent avant-garde event of the season. As strobe lights flashed, the Velvet Underground played feedback-laden proto-punk, leather-clad dancers improvised on stage, and an improbably manic Warhol directed simultaneous projection of several of his films onto shifting areas of the auditorium, sometimes with handheld projectors, sometimes distorted by gel on the lens.

"Simultaneously, uptown at the Leo Castelli Gallery on East 77th Street, people could experience a more calming Warhol environment, an installation called Silver Clouds. In an otherwise empty white room floated an array of pillow-shaped balloons, each about five feet long. Fabricated with then-new metallicized polyester film and inflated with helium, these objects moved gently, randomly reflecting vague patterns formed by each other, the floor, the walls, the lighting, and passing visitors. In either case, people could make of the experience whatever they wanted, by projecting their own emotions and desires. ...

"Warhol's association with plastic derived from the early Pop Art that made him famous. But it was Warhol himself who evoked a sense of plastic artificiality. 'If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface', he told an interviewer; 'there's nothing behind it.' His image was continually shifting, becoming more artificial with each turn. As a young man, Warhol altered his name and underwent plastic surgery on his nose. With fame, he began wearing outrageously phony white or silver wigs that accentuated his unnatural pallor. In the mid-1960s, he sent an imposter on the college lecture circuit. About fifteen years later, this affinity for artificiality reached an extreme, as he collaborated with a former Disney imagineer, constructing an audioanimatronic Warhol robot of plastic and alloys—intended as the star of 'Andy Warhol's Overexposed: A No-Man Show.' "


Jeffrey L. Meikle


American Plastic: A Cultural History


Rutgers University Press


Copyright 1995 by Jeffrey L. Meikle


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