THE INFAMOUS PROVOCATEUR ON THE ENDURING INFLUENCE OF ANDY WARHOL
“If you study The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, then every sentence is like a Twitter sentence. It’s very interesting, light communication; not old democratic, but new democratic”
– Ai Weiwei
To say that the iconoclastic cultural firebrand Ai Weiwei needs no introduction would be trite. He is one of the most outspoken and provocative artists of the modern era, creating highly politicized work defined by its social conscience and explicit two-fingered salutes to the draconian machinations of the establishment. In this exclusive extract from AUTHOR, he tells us of his profound appreciation for the work of a very different icon from another era, Andy Warhol, whom he considers the key protagonist of a paradigm shift in art, published with previously unseen images from his close friend and confidante, Larry Warsh, one of his most significant collectors.
“Warhol made commercial art as art, and this was a political statement because, at that time, no one believed commercial art could be art–they were all looking for high art. But Warhol put ordinary people’s values into his work, and he succeeded. He placed an advert in The New York Times that said, ‘Whoever pays, I will give them a portrait.’ This was a very, very important statement–that the work belongs to average people, whoever meets the price. That’s a very democratic moment. Today, we have the advantage of the Internet. I think Warhol would have dreamed to have the Internet. If you study Andy Warhol’s philosophy from A to Z and back again, then every sentence is like a Twitter sentence. It’s very interesting, light communication; not old democratic, but new democratic. That’s very important. The internet is like a Woodstock moment, but in information – movies, documentary films, events; it rolls out information twenty-four-seven… Nobody can stop that kind of creativity. It’s not about a product, but it’s about communication; how we can reach out and achieve something we can never even imagine.
Interview by JOHN-PAUL PRYOR
special thanks to LARRY WARSH