During the recent years in the history of modern art, there is one thing that one cannot miss to notice: we see that artists and the media are bound together. One cannot exist without the other. The media feed from the extremes artists, sometimes, go to so that they can deliver a piece of art. And artists survive completely on the coverage of the media.
Artists wish to shock and provoke in order to achieve getting as much publicity as possible. Art collectors also benefit from scandals or publicity stunts that are being created solely for attracting attention on a specific name.Saatchi is a very good example of an advertisement expert who knows how to play the media game very good and he secures his investments by creating as much publicity as possible around the artist whose pieces he bought. Throughout the history of modern art, there have been many people who know well how to attract the media and take advantage of that to raise their value in the art market. But there are two who we can consider masters into creating some kind of interest around their names: Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. Each used the media as their subject matter and also became a media subject at the same time.Each made their purpose in life to live under the spotlight because they knew that only this way their words would be heard.
I will start with Andy Warhol. He understood the importance of the mass-media attention would have in his life and took advantage of that very early in his career. He started by creating advertisements that would be published on newspapers and recreated comic images that were published in magazines he was reading when he was a child. His images were instantly recognisable and would make him famous in his work field. But it was not until he started printing his ” Death and Disaster” series on canvas that the art world started to notice him.He used the photos that were printed on the front pages of newspapers when announcing that something horrible had happened. He reprinted them again and again on canvas, imitating the way all newspapers print the same photograph when covering the same topic.
No matter how horrible the topic is, this repetition minimises the effect it has on people and we become immune to the sadness that we would normally feel when we see something horrific. Publicity photos were one of his favourite subjects. When Marilyn Monroe died, he paid his tribute to her by creating the first of what would later be a big series of prints of big actors and singing stars.
He used a publicity photograph that was created for the promotion of a film she was making and he cropped her face. He exaggerated the colours that she would normally on, although the picture was black-and-white and he reproduced this image many times on the same canvas. He did not even correct the smudges around the edges of each picture. He wanted to comment on the effect images that were created by and for the media had on the masses. He underlined the difficulty media-worshiped idols had to always appear immaculate.He always used instantly recognisable faces.
The same principle applied for the creation of the Campbell’s soup cans series. He wanted to use something that everybody would recognise and identify with. He did the same when he created the different dollar bills on canvas time and time again. He always wanted to be instantly recognised like his subject matters. After he was shot, the editor of Life magazine accused him of “having breathed a hint of madness into American society”.
He printed a similar gun to the one that was used to shot him with on canvas. He parodied the press all the time and then he bought Interview magazine and became a part of them. He appeared to have a love-hate relationship with the mass media. He cared what the media thought about his work because they could promote or destroy any of his exhibitions. But he hated that dependency and he would make moves to provoke them. His entire filming career was like that.
The subjects were always revolving around homosexuality that was a forbidden subject still that period.He created exhibitions of packing boxes that no body liked but still he was making money. His subject was always recognisable objects through the media. He was using the media to draw his subjects from and the media used him because whatever was written about him and his strange life was selling. As the media were being reproduced many times (newspapers and magazines), his art pieces were reproduced images taken from the media. One could not exist without the other. After his death, the headlines were screaming: “The pop king is dead”.No matter who loved him and who hated him, they all agreed in one thing: that he was the king of pop art.
This would be the way he would like to be remembered. The other artist that I am going to analyse is Jeff Koons. He is being considered the successor of Andy Warhol by the media. He claims that he is heavily influenced by Marcel Duchamp, something that Warhol himself claimed too.
The similarities between their work are many. Amongst them is the way they both used the media to draw their subjects from. Koons became famous for creating kitsch art. He claims that he wanted to get across love and romance in a baroque rococo style. But we can say that what he really wants is to become rich.
He also recreated images produced for the media like the Jim Beam souvenir train that he had his craftsmen made for him from stainless steal and he had the original whiskybottles put into the miniature trains. His exhibitions were of ready-mades used as art. This was a principle Duchamp introduced to the world with his recreation of the Mona Lisa with moustache and a urinal named “fountain”. He lives in the real world of mass production. His work has been described as forcing the world to look around on insignificant objects that can become of artistic value because his artefacts were polished and they gleamed.
As the media represent today’s world and they way we do things, Koons’ art will reflect in the future what the needs were of today’s society.