This week we will consider Laurence King Publishing’s exciting new artist series in a graphic novel format. We begin with “This is Warhol.” We will continue with Jackson Pollock, Francis Bacon, Salvador Dali, and end the week with Paul Gauguin. How often have you started the week with Andy Warhol and ended the week with Paul Gauguin? Well, you lucky duck, this is your week. These are all iconoclasts and each of their work continues to reverberate. Among this group, we feel closest to Warhol, despite the fact he was personally quite distant. We think we know him. But, as this book clearly demonstrates, there is much more than meets the casual observer.
Catherine Ingram writes with great enthusiasm and confidence in her subject. She weaves a compelling narrative in such a concise manner, never wasting a word. As she’s describing Warhol’s childhood, she is deftly planting seeds that link us to the vision of the leading figure of Pop Art. Andy, the child, is gazing upon his neighborhood church’s icons. As a Catholic, the icons are powerful figures for Warhol. As an adult, he will take that same level of emotional attachment to his depictions of Campbell’s soup cans and Hollywood stars. But weren’t these repeated images from pop culture simply statements about an empty and shallow society? No, Ingram makes a case for much more being said.
We take it for granted that Andy Warhol was the Campbell’s soup can guy. But, as any recovering art student will tell you, actually making art history is tantamount to turning water into wine. It just doesn’t happen to mere mortals. Warhol was not only at the right time and right place but he really did end up doing the things that get you into the art history books. There are so many connections there, from his own family to his own work ethic, that led him to ultimately cracking a code. These famous soup can paintings that proved to be the turning point in Warhol’s career, lend themselves to multiple readings. They’re not only Warhol’s first tangible answer to a new art movement. They prove to be a new way of seeing. They can be read as mechanical images in a highly automated society. But they can also be read as an exciting new way to see art. Commercial art can be fine art. It was a fundamental shift that left many art elitists quaking in their boots.
Andy Warhol and his world is also made more accessible to us by the wonderful artwork by Andrew Rae. I firmly believe in the power to tell someone’s story through words and pictures. I know, in my bones, that it’s this unique combination that makes lasting impressions. We’re talking about a multitude of facts, attitudes, orbits of various personalities, that require a fair amount of processing. I love a good long history or biography but, you know, I also want a graphic novel is there’s a worthy version on the subject I’m interested in. I’m never going to forget the way, for instance, that Andrew Rae provides us with a detailed look inside the Lexington Avenue apartment building where Warhol lived with his mother and 25 Siamese cats who were all called Sam, apart from one who was called Hester. There’s no novel or movie or biography that can give you quite that same experience!
Andy Warhol, I can assure you, would have joyfully and respectfully approved of “This is Warhol.”
Learn more about this fun and informative new artist series by visiting our friends at Laurence King Publishing right here.