This is copied from a dead old blog of mine. I wanted to resurface it because a conversation with a friend reminded me of it this morning.
All of these quotes are from Andy Warhol’s last interview from Flash Magazine in 1987. I don’t know that much about Warhol, but I like what he’s said about business and art in the past.
I’ve bolded a few things that I like in the passages here—they’re mostly things that display a defenseless attitude that I admire. I like that he doesn’t seem to feel a need to defend his viewpoints or even what he just said.
Somewhere else in the interview he says that he always worked hard. Hey, let’s cultivate our gardens.
Paul Taylor: What about your transformation from being a commercial artist to a real artist.
Andy Warhol: I’m still a commercial artist. I was always a commercial artist.
Paul Taylor: Then what’s a commercial artist?
Andy Warhol: I don’t know - someone who sells art.
Paul Taylor: So almost all artists are commerical artists, just to varying degrees.
Andy Warhol: I think so.
Paul Taylor: Is a better commercial artist one who sells more work?
Andy Warhol: I don’t know. When I started out, art was doing down the drain. The people who used to magazine illustrations and the covers were being replaced by photographers. And when they started using photographers, I started to show my work with galleries. Everybody also was doing window decoration. That led into more galleries. I had some paintings in a window, then in a gallery.
Paul Taylor: Is there a parallel situation now?
Andy Warhol: No, it just caught on so well that there’s a new gallery open every day now. There are a lot more artists, which is real great.
Paul Taylor: What has happened to the idea of good art?
Andy Warhol: It’s all good art.
Paul Taylor: Is that to say that it’s all equal?
Andy Warhol: Yeah well, I don’t know, I can’t…
Paul Taylor: You’re not interested in making distinctions.
Andy Warhol: Well no, I just can’t tell the difference. I don’t see why one Jasper Johns sells for three million and one sells for, you know, like four hundred thousand. They were both good paintings.
I bet he’s good at spotting emperor’s clothes.
Paul Taylor: You’ve been in trouble for using someone else’s image as far back as 1964. What do you think about the legal situation of appropriated imagery, and the copyright situation?
Andy Warhol: I don’t know. It’s just like a Coca Cola bottle - when you buy it, you always think that it’s yours and you can do whatever you like with it. Now it’s sort of different because you pay a deposit on the bottle. We’re having the same problem now with the John Wayne pictures. I don’t want to get involved, it’s too much trouble. I think that you buy a magazine, you pay for it, it’s yours. I don’t get mad when people take my things.
Paul Taylor: You don’t do anything about it?
Andy Warhol: No. It got a little crazy when people were turning out paintings and signing my name.
Paul Taylor: What did you think about that?
Andy Warhol: Signing my name to it was wrong but other than that I don’t care.
Paul Taylor: The whole appropriation epidemic comes down to who is responsible for for art. If indeed anyone can manufacture the pictures of those flowers, the whole idea of the artist gets lost somewhere in the process.
Andy Warhol: Is that good or bad?
That’s the question, Andy!
Paul Taylor: And there’s going to be a retrospective of your films at the Whitney Museum.
Andy Warhol: Maybe, yes.
Paul Taylor: Are you excited about that?
Andy Warhol: No.
Paul Taylor: Why not?
Andy Warhol: They’re better talked about than seen.
This quote reminds me of Walker Texas Ranger because the episode where Alex gets ebola isn’t that great to watch, but it’s wonderful to talk about. As is the one where they try to kill Gage while he’s undercover as a knight at a Medieval Times by switching the balsa wood jousting stick with a pinewood jousting stick.
Paul Taylor: Your work as an artist has always been so varied, like Leonardo. You’re a painter, a film maker, a publisher… Do you think that’s what an artist is?
Andy Warhol: No.
Paul Taylor: Can you define an artist for me?
Andy Warhol: I think an artist is anybody who does something well, like if you cook well.
I imagine I’ll eventually discover a thing I do really well.