Essays on Modern Art: Andy Warhol



Essays on Modern Art: Andy Warhol

Justice Koolhaas

Shakespir Edition.

Copyright 2015 Justice Koolhaas.

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The research and translation for this text was match-funded via the B route: application 1227H/2014.

The translator would like to, as ever, thank Sofietje and Jan.

Cover design: D. Janssen.

‘Mickey’ circa 1980. Gold leaf on panel.

Dimensions approx. 120 × 165 cm.

Table of Contents

Translator’s Introduction

Warhol’s Difference Engine

Textual Connexivities

Also by Justice Koolhaas

Translator’s Introduction

Series Introduction

It is difficult for today’s students to find source materials that are original enough to give their assignments an edge. There are so many books and so little time. This is especially so in the labyrinthine world of art and its accompanying theories. What can another book add about the artists that form the backbone of art history? The Essays on Modern Art series offers three things: each book is short, discusses a previously unseen artwork, and carries the prestige in presenting a new and startling theorist – Justice Koolhaas.

Her thought has only recently been made available, and is introduced at length in a previous publication, Creative Theory, Radical Example (Koolhaas 2015). Her art theory has, over five decades, covered mainstream figures and lesser known ones alike. Each of her theoretical essays, introduced by myself, is reproduced alongside at least one of each artist’s works owned by Koolhaas.

The artworks are from a collection of over fourteen hundred that she amassed between the nineteen sixties and early 2000s. These range from paintings and sculptures to videos and installations. Each was obtained in an unorthodox manner. She used her position as an outsider theorist to ingratiate herself with art professionals and hangers-on, the kind of people who typically accrete around artists once their work begins to gather some commercial and critical momentum. Sometimes this resulted in studio visits that sometimes resulted in her asking about any recent work that had been discarded. The discussion about that discarded work occasionally led to her asking to keep it, but with a proviso. She asked each artist to write a note directly onto the work itself (typically an obscured facet, such as the obverse of a painting) to the effect that the artist disowned the work and wished for it to have no market value.*

Most refused. Those who agreed will have done so for their own reasons. Either way, her proposition would have fascinated many. She claimed that she was inverting Marcel Duchamp’s assertion that if an artist declares an object is an artwork, then no matter what that object is, it is an artwork. In this case, that artist’s authority to confer status is used for conferring the exact opposite – through what she called an ‘undesignation’. The challenge was whether undesignations could hold. Would they, on the contrary, still confer status? The possibility here is that artists may unintentionally and unwittingly inherit a Midas touch in a perverse experiment with which to test the frontiers of a post-Duchampian world in which artists have no need to touch their art. We shall only know for sure once the executors of the Koolhaas estate decide on the future of her collection.

The art world has changed beyond measure since Koolhaas started collecting and writing about art. There are ever more degree courses to educate a growing middle-class in art theory and practice. The gallery system has expanded to accommodate an ever-richer top echelon of society that is ever-hungrier for investment opportunities. The art world has never been so lively and open. The gulf between an educated high-brow audience and a mass of popular culture consumers*** has been all but eliminated. That said, great art writing is difficult.

The corpus of Koolhaas’s art writing usually concentrates on psychoanalysis, politics, identity and her stance towards feminism from its outside; aesthetics do not loom as a large area for philosophical discussion, and she rarely uses the word explicitly herself. One might think this is a curious occurrence when so much of her work deals with writing, literature and art. Indeed it is here, as I will show, that Koolhaasian aesthetics can be located and elaborated.

My introductions to each book in this series take their cue from Cecilia Sjöholm’s interpretation of another theorist – Julia Kristeva – and her ‘theorist aesthetics’. These were radically politicized by the textual ‘terrorism’ of Tel Quel, ontologized through femininity and the maternal, and opening to the politically productive possibilities in writing (Sjöholm 2005: 33-58). Although Sjöholm’s larger focus is on politics, and will be too technically cumbersome for many practicing artists to get bogged down with, the way she makes a conjunction between the ontological and political in Kristeva is germane to understanding how Koolhaas’s essays elaborate aesthetics.

Although Kristeva’s focus is often on aesthetic products, particularly avant-garde writing, it is in respect of an author’s subjectivity in process; her discussions centre on the drives behind this process, and the political implications for aesthetic production, making for what I call a ‘productionist onto-political aesthetics’.

It could be argued that aesthetic theories always are productionist if they are systems for judging the realisation in aesthetic products by motivations, wherever those motivations come from. It could be further argued that aesthetic theories cannot sit outside ontological spheres. It is difficult for form to entirely escape a relationship with matter; even in digital art forms, materiality is encountered in technological capture, storage, and transmission. Nor is politics strictly inseparable from aesthetics if we accept that all human activity is at some level political.

The kind of aesthetic theory under discussion here, then, is about a matter of emphases. Kristeva’s aesthetics are articulated in a political motivation (to recover what she calls ‘revolt’) that is realisable through the (act of producing) text that can help us reconnect with our (ontological) inner drives annexed from us in a world awash with imagery: thus, an aesthetics that is productionist and onto-political.

Koolhaas was largely with her on this; but just as her name shares the same initials with Kristeva, it does not share the same number of syllables – there is no similarity without difference. The significant shift in Koolhaas’s thought comes with partly embracing the world-awash-with-imagery as a positive force for identity as much as a negative one for psychological maladies. On this level, our ‘productionist onto-political aesthetics’ is technologised. Today, the real potential in an artist or writer is not in the solitary realms of their ‘genius’ or any ‘treatment’ by a psychoanalytic or other therapeutic practitioner such as Kristeva. Koolhaas recognised long ago that appeals to the body were insufficient appeals for combining aesthetics with politics when both are social experiences. It is perhaps now, in an age of social media by default, that this approach to art truly comes of age.

Both the production and consumption of art and culture are a social process. The private experiences of the garret and the analyst’s couch are artefacts from an authoritarianism that our contemporary bent for the curatorial would have us set within its context/s.

Revolt today, far from being intimate, is shared. The flattening of hierarchy by technology has mutated Foucault’s celebrated ‘technologies of the self’ to the institutional level.

The problem this faces us with is language. The term long favoured by many artists, ‘private language’, is a right that finds itself, paradoxically, a new social responsibility. To explain this paradox we need to turn to a key Koolhaasian phrase:

‘Responsibility means flaunting your rights.’ (Koolhaas forthcoming, 2016)

The above statement is a veiled reference to Sartre exhorting the writer to reveal people’s freedom (Sartre 2001). However, in Koolhaasian terms, authorship now belongs to everybody, not to the mid-20th century bourgeoise privileged with a publishing contract. In this sense, authorship is a universal and unspoken social contract with a ‘duty to reveal selfhood and all its entitlements’, making society the ‘sum total of me, me, me, me, me.’ (Ibid)

This thought goes beyond the ironic appropriation of a hackneyed phrase about selfishness. When creativity is liberalised through proliferating art institutions, its online presence is only ever a click away from new political powers: ‘me’ is infinite. Joseph Beuys’s assertion that everyone is an artist is so familiar as to raise a shrug these days; yet he went on to make the less familiar assertion that the art of the future is about self-determination and participation in culture and democracy (Beuys 1973). Digital authorship en masse is the realisation of this. It is the greatest ever challenge to received wisdoms about what it is to even ‘challenge’.

For example, radical theorists and artists will instinctively recognise how changing the world through traditional means such as ‘good works’ runs the risk of propping up ‘charity’ as a fig leaf for the globalised late-capitalism that causes problems to begin with. Good works, like charities and NGOs, have already been co-opted. What is desperately needed is a new class of artist whose language is incommensurable with the same institutional and corporate governmentality that hosts their art. The outsider / insider is therefore tomorrow’s unacknowledged legislator. The paradox of the insider / outsider parallels the paradoxes that ‘responsibility means flaunting your rights’ and society is the ‘sum total of me, me, me, me, me.’

And encapsulating these paradoxes are the many paradoxes of language. Koolhaas is a lucid illustration. Many readers will find her a difficult thinker and writer. Their temptation will be to lean on my introductions for support. Yet the idea that language (whether hers, mine or anybody’s) communicates ideas from one head to another is a prejudice that anyone familiar with the basics to Media or Communication Studies will have no doubt already encountered. There are countless assumptions at play. Before we even regard the meaning of addressor, addressee, and the myriad contexts affecting communication and its ‘reception’, there are traps that befall us with just language alone. It is easily assumed that letters, words, and syntax all point to a world ‘out here’ in a clear and crisp way.

Anyone who has had to translate anything from one language to another knows all too well how concepts such as ‘understanding’ and ‘meaning’ have underlying factors that are mired in life, history, and climate. In short, you do not have to read linguistic philosophy to appreciate how material reality condemns language to contradiction and aporia (de Man 1986).

Nevertheless, today’s student in art and its theory needs to be equipped to ‘get on’ in (and I daresay, suffer) ‘the culture industry’. Koolhaas wrote densely along the borders defined by the tyranny of grammar. There is something dangerously continental about that to the Anglo-American ear. Yet she never indulged in wordplay for its own sake like Derrida. Nor did she lapse into the cultural pessimism of Baudrillard. And as much as she was influenced by continentals like them – those popularised theorists who were attacked by critics poisoned by career jealousy – she was, before the term was even invented, post-postmodern, if we are to take this to mean post-exhaustion, or, dangerously, ringing with confidence that the next generation is there to shock by doing things differently. That, in a nutshell, to her, was the very spirit of modern art.


  • There is a debate that comes and goes between some artists and galleries over whether an artwork should be signed on the back rather than the front.

Opponents often misunderstand Duchamp because they do not take the time to read him. Alas, many proponents also neglect his writings. The short extract ‘The Richard Mutt Case’ (Duchamp 1917) is a simple and easily available starting point for engaging with his thought.

*** Pierre Bourdieu’s analysis of this division as a mark of distinction through cultural capital (Bourdieu 2010[1984]: 24-7) seems, however pioneering and influential, rather outdated.

Introduction to ‘Warhol’s Difference Engine’

Life today would be unthinkable without Andy Warhol. Every day we get nearer to a situation where everybody on the planet will continuously reproduce images and develop their profiles. Our fifteen minutes of fame is stretching out into a lifetime. Justice Koolhaas was not the first to recognise who was the first to recognise this: even more confusingly, to explain this double-layer, we must look to another theorist – Jean Baudrillard – who, in an interview on Warhol as a starting point, paradoxically inferred another starting point for that starting point:

‘Warhol’s act could be considered a revisitation of art after Duchamp. According to our own coordinates and temporality, it is less a work of art than an anthropological event.’ (Baudrillard 2005: 44)

Warhol was, for Baudrillard, a modernist not in the destructive sense, but as a cool triumphalist. The triumph occurred in the way that the post-war economic miracle enabled infinite possibilities in how to invent the self and the world that comes about from multiple selves interacting. Warhol’s genius was to foresee how originality would therefore become popularised in acts of copying. And his popularity was in his treatment of the popular: he celebrated the everyday, and in doing so, elevated it to mythical proportions; in turn, he mythologised himself as the new reality’s originator / copyist …

In the ‘Window Shopping’ chapter of America, he listed examples of the abundant choices available in America, concluding how democratic this is (Warhol 2011). The can of Tab drunk by Nancy Reagan is the same Tab drunk by the homeless person.

Warhol’s idea of democracy here is based on how standardised products level society through their availability to anybody. The copy is hereby placed at the centre of democracy. We might argue that the copy, far from a second-rate version of an ‘original’, has a democratic history. The printing press, for example, broke the monopoly that legal and religious scribes enjoyed over the power invested in text. And now the digital inheritance of the culture of the copy is only too visible as something that continues to transform art and culture as much in its production as its consumption.

Curiously, Koolhaas’s addition to the Warhol myth is never totally onside. A clue as to why can be found in Blake Stimson’s Citizen Warhol (Stimson 2015). Stimson situates Warhol as the exemplar and explainer of a paradigm shift from the enlightenment to postmodernity. The idea, he says, that the individual should be burdened by social responsibilities has been superseded: personal autonomy today is an organic force that has little need for any public realm overseen and intervened on by institutions and governments. Stimson concludes that the humanist project towards establishing an objective reality has been overtaken by subjective choice in the marketplace. However, his view of the performativity within post-Fordist consumerism is lop-sided. Yes, an immigrant like Warhol was able to elevate himself to celebrity status. Yes, he recognised the significance to the identity work inhered in material culture. Yet in acknowledging all this as dependent on a democratic flattening that occurs in the popular, Stimson misses out that the art world, just like the popular culture it is immersed in, also, and paradoxically, is an unequal business.

It is, then, no wonder that Koolhaas’s essay on Warhol chops and changes its subject matter so heavy-handedly. Her wrestling with the appearance of social equality produces an unstructured spread to the way that she digests difference. We could interpret this is a mirror to the flat surface of Warhol’s paintings that he famously said we need to look at to understand who he is. But there is something else going on. Her jumps between subject matter seesaw us back and forth across different aspects of his work with the motion of a rodeo. Her writing methodology, ‘regrounding’ – discussed in considerable detail in Creative Theory, Radical Example (Koolhaas 2015) – involved obsessive and delirious editing that pushed the art she wrote about to the background of what she uncovered. The way her essay ‘rides’ Warhol’s unassailable persona – his factory production, his embodiment of celebrity status, his monumental art legacy and so on – in effect takes some control back in order to foreground her concerns. For instance, the role and his use of women, normally overshadowed by the glitter of fame, becomes suddenly apparent. Female iconography is thus disassembled. Women’s shoes are hereby loosened from the grip of glamour to reappear as themselves: reproduced sex objects that reproduce women as sex objects. Another example of Koolhaas’s regrounding is evident in how Edie Sedgwick ends up sandwiched between ever-changing and surprising subjects. There is nothing arbitrary to this. Each aspect to the discussion has doubtlessly been tried in hundreds of combinations through hundreds of hours of re-editing under physiological and psychological strains that the author self-inflicted in the pursuit of a new vision of Warhol. The mythical ‘over-emotional’ woman is reclaimed in gilding the essay with poetic charge.

Koolhaas’s verbal rodeo, then, literally and metaphorically rides roughshod and bareback on the male cult of the cowboy in Warhol’s work. The (am)bivalence to the results is deliberate. It mirrors Warhol in being both critical, and at the same time, reluctant to judge. Koolhaas’s verbosity likewise mirrors his prolific and repetitive output. For her theory, such as we can pin her down on having one, was a quantity theory of discussion. The more words, the better. Her mangling of them to the point of ambivalence aimed to shake up both the subject under discussion and the subjects discussing it. Reading a regrounded text can incite a strange need to persevere that is accompanied by an equally strange sensation of resistance. Accidental discoveries through happenstance – ideas that you could never deliberately conjure – fuel this psychological mix of serendipity and hangover.

There were three art purchases that led Koolhaas to write this intensely about Warhol. The picture adorning the cover was abandoned simply because powdered diamonds were eventually favoured over gold leaf. Its unfinished state typifies the art in her collection. The marks are hesitant here while confident there. The conception, design and execution are in process, still deciding amongst each other what to do next and how. Yet the result bears witness to an artist generous enough to part company with his discard on Koolhaas’s unorthodox terms, though all three purchases were negotiated (through a mutual friend, Ingrid von Sheflin).

Mickey is an image of opposites. It is a modern image rendered with a traditional technique. It is an image with a positive message given over as a negative. As a negative, it references its photographic / cinematic origins as an original that has only ever existed in mechanically reproduced form; and yet, it is sketched-in and delicately laid on by hand as a one-off. And additionally, as with everything in the Koolhaas collection, the reverse side contains a written disavowal by Warhol that this picture should be considered his and worth anything more than the materials it is made of: the visual offering of the artist on one side is thus negated by his verbal withdrawal on the other.

Koolhaas explores in her essay how works such as Mickey reveal Warhol’s ambiguities with identity, gender and sexuality. And while his explorations were obsessed with popularity, hers were with obscurity; what they both grasped at were the edges of their vocabulary.

In grasping at this within her essay, she touches on what she calls ‘a non-feminist feminism as a critical methodology’ (quotations from here onwards, unless otherwise stated, are from the essay itself). She appears to attempt such a feat by balancing both the wild masculinities and misogynistic undercurrents apparent in Warhol’s surfaces. The importation of advertising and its attendant exploitation of women is a critique so well-worn as to be far more passé than outré by today’s standards. A non-feminist feminism therefore seems to embrace the self-actualising elements from pop art via a semiotic reading of the phallus through Lacan in order to interrogate ourselves as the ‘individual subjects of whom we can never fully grasp the social meanings’. Warhol is, in fact, seen as Lacanian, transforming the psychoanalytic into the mediatised objects of desire central to the cathexis entre le personnel et le politique. As Koolhaas argues across her fragments, and in one of the many margin notes impossible to incorporate into the essay without disturbing its flow:

[Pop art uses signs which are] ‘tekenen dat ons voor de gek houden, juist omdat onze onbewuste geest verwacht een echte eronder’ – signs that catch us out because our unconscious expects them to be underpinned by something real.

We are, in other words, made from copies we see of things that are yet to exist: Mickey Mouse is the unspoken example par excellence. He is one of the ‘individual speaking subjects that remain in the unconscious of the system itself’. It is in this signifying that repetition is inevitable, so its use (keeping in mind Lacan’s mirror-stage) gives rise to a ‘reflexivity [that] can protect an artwork against the notion that it must be original’ – without such a notion, influence and identity are erased, impossible. The circuit between the subject and the subject’s self-observation is thus a circuit connected into the socius because each is the reflexive consequence of the other. The originally self, at its most reduced, is an original / copy.

Most controversially, Koolhaas suggests that covertly hidden within the interstices of the Warholian is a desire to transcend the machinations he overtly celebrated. There is something sado-masochistic to the idea that he could have ‘in his relationship with [Edie] Sedgwick, purposely searched for a manipulating and condescending level.’ In this, Koolhaas continues in parts, there is a parallel demand to remain overt, appearing to keep with the programme with an awareness of one’s ‘spot’ when on camera; he was, after all, as a fine artist, still a commercial artist, and commercial artists cannot entirely escape when they are at some level bound by commercial considerations. Recognition of these covert and overt forces itself mirrors the feminism that is non-feminist. Is, indeed, Warhol ‘sympathetic, while showing an equal willingness to exploit?’ (and just like capitalism itself, we might add).

The essay ends by suggesting both otherwise and maybe: ‘His drawings, such as those for his Mickey Mouse prints, mean that the popularity of his work is due, in part, to a technique he developed for a simultaneous understanding of colour and sexuality in a model of duplication that can accommodate difference.’ The results – or perhaps as we would say in business-speak these days, the ‘outcomes’ – are bivalent. Warhol’s legacy may well include a grotesqueness in that vulgar thing called lucre. Yet it also foregrounds the grotesqueness that is the outsider in all of us as though it were the norm. Rendering Mickey Mouse in a rough form overlaid with gold sums up Warholian bivalence: those whose future is in art should therefore take heart in the metaphor of social mobility.

Koolhaas shows how we should take an artist like Warhol as a philosopher of reality. A surprise for some, perhaps, who would have it that he was disconnected from reality. His fans, conversely, would have it that it is that disconnectedness that is our reality. The copy means that we have seen it all before. Its infinite combinations mean that we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Notes on the Texts in the Series

If I were to conform to the typical style that brief introductions have for a series on art and its theorising, then I would provide inset boxes explaining ‘basic ideas’, or some précis of movements in art or thought. But I will not do this (you may be relieved to hear). I make only the following set of propositions. They encapsulate – and perhaps explode – the logic of having a totality to the book that can be neatly subdivided as though Koolhaas’s thought can be likewise structured.

What is structure? Is the text it attempts to contain separate from the text outside it? How are they then connected? Where is the margin to marginalised thought such as hers? Is it inside or outside any inset box? And why do we talk of one to begin with, when, if we are honest, we are perhaps trying to contain theory whose business is with refusing containment? Anyone studying and /or practising art will instinctively understand what I am talking about here. There is a conflict to be negotiated when, on the one hand, we talk about or make art, and on the other, report on this within an academic context. For talking and making art are activities that lend themselves to testing and bending rules, while the academic context in which art and its theory are taught endangers reducing what is going on to a mere game. The Koolhaas art theory reader will therefore find one aspect to this series both philosophically interesting and possibly unique.

A fellow alumnus who completed his languages PhD in the same year as myself and took his talents into the world of cyber-security told me something curious about Koolhaas’s texts. The reason, he says, that anti-plagiarism software used by educational institutions ignores files that contain her writing is that her grammatical evasiveness appears to the software as directory listings. She would doubtlessly have rolled her eyes at being professionally overlooked, as ever (even by computers!). She would also have been privately delighted: she remains technologically and defiantly under the radar – her essays literally do not scan. However, digital invisibility carries two implications for the Koolhaas reader.

The first is that there is a spirit to imbibe. The essays in the series refuse absorption into the capitalist education business machine, and in so doing, help others to learn to slip past its defences. Anti-plagiarism software is a corporate tool against what is a rising and global tide of resistance. Copying and pasting from her books therefore ducks surveillance and disrupts an educational system she considered to be stuck in the 19th century.

However, the second implication of her unscannability is with citations. While you are welcome to directly copy anything from any Justice Koolhaas book without citation, and while passing her work off as your own offers an opportunity to cheek authority, in the balance you are more likely to get better marks for simply adding citations. Universities and colleges typically reward students who show an understanding of and adherence to academic conventions.

This suggestion may seem a double-standard. As you will notice, and as is explained in detail in Creative Theory, Radical Example, little of Koolhaas’s writing makes explicit citations, circumnavigating reference points with allusion and paraphrasing instead. I have therefore resisted cluttering her original texts with citations that were omitted unless absolutely necessary. To counterbalance this, uncited works are listed elsewhere under the Textual Connexivities chapters. These include sufficient background reading that will help to elucidate the context to the essays as well as provide starting points from which the intrepid reader can embark on personal excursions.

From from to from, each essay contributes new thoughts and terminology that any reader – student or not – will find new and rewarding. How can art be ‘infoversial’? When is culture ‘infra-modern’? What are the horizons to a ‘semiosphere’?

It is my hope that this series can, through clear and concise presentation, help readers to think differently about art, find new things to write about it, and enrich their experience of it through cutting-edge theory.

Koolhaas’s writings on art are themselves an art form at a time when art has truly become an industry. In this sense, Koolhaasian regrounding is ripe for the thousands of seminars, workshops and other text-based art events that are integral to that industry. Only through critical discussion can art hope to change the minds that change the world.

Koolhaas always wanted students to bring radical theory to bear on the world by turning the written and spoken word into an avant-garde art performance. Art practitioners arguably have the most potential in this. What Koolhaas’s essays question, above all, is any need for separation between art theory and practice. The truly radical practitioner will grasp the absurdity in how, while art practice has been undertaken in so many challenging forms, its theory has remained within the confines of the traditional essay format. One day – and perhaps this is an idle dream – will art theorists work with poetry slams, ranting, or who knows what? The ultimate challenge then for the Koolhaas reader is whether to take the plunge and present work that is as opaque and resistant as hers.

C. M. Cohen, Lausanne 2015.


Warhol’s Difference Engine

This essay was originally written in 1982 and submitted that year to two theory journals and an international art magazine. It was refused in all cases on the unlikely basis of the article’s length. The unorthodox deployment of Lacan and the Master / Slave dialectic in relation to sexual identity and the unconscious, a contentious move at the time, was probably the real issue. This minor point should not distract readers from the (intentional) diversity adumbrated across all three sections: these are respectively titled ‘CTRL-C, CTRL-V’, ‘Penises’ and ‘Difference’. This translation is from the 2007 revisions.

[C. M. C.]


Warhol’s arena affirms difference within the realm of simulation. There, the whirligig of representation in his image manifestations is an objection to aesthetic cognitivism and what we have in common. What he repeated regularly, year after year, was the copy itself; or rather, the repeat, the same day in the same painting or sculpture. Our sole involvement with the plastic arts will be seriously impoverished unless it is apt to be repeated infinitely thereafter. This concept of the eternal return of the same in Warhol’s photographic works deals with problems of repetition, difference and history. The eternal paths encountered when noting that cultural studies is also obsessively self-reflexive, means that, by implication, non-revolutionary art, which was typical of Warhol, was rather, in his projection techniques, revolutionary art.

First, then, it will be necessary to take up the resistance to cultural studies as an approach to contemporary art. What might a cultural studies project about Warhol look like and why we might want to pursue it? It will be necessary to use a non-feminist feminism as a critical methodology to review Warhol’s work as a carefully cultivated cool. Chodorow, for example, is overlooked by most mainstream commentators, who believe that there are differences – mainly with Duchamp’s readymades – claiming that they have a formally innovative, and gendered difference. Research has led, additionally, to convincing readings of several ‘wild masculinities’, or rather, structures of identification as reproduction.

Compared to other art objects, Warhol’s have women who are fetishised as the lost object in lieu of their own art. The purpose of this is to establish women’s consumer culture as it is reflected in the shift from art to the visual to our history to culture in general. For purposes of clarification, we might help illustrate how this model of duplication can accommodate difference. Whether such an image is reproduced on canvas or paper or film, published in a portfolio, or unpublished, designated individual works are proofs. So the popularity of Mickey Mouse is due, in part, to this technique Warhol developed for the execution of his most obvious woman-hating statements. Much of his oeuvre appears to be non-sexist, obsessively self-reflexive, obsessed, that is, with genealogy and the reality of suffering, death and disaster. For example, in an interview with Gene Swenson in Art News, Warhol discusses Elizabeth Taylor as a sitter in respect of the ‘Death’ series.

Swenson: When did you start with the ‘Death’ series?

Warhol: I guess it was the big plane crash picture, the front page of a newspaper: 129 Die. I was also painting Marilyns. I realised that everything I was doing must have been Death …

Swenson: But you’re still doing “Elizabeth Taylor” pictures.

Warhol: I started those a long time ago, when she was so sick and everybody said she was going to die. Now I’m doing them over, putting bright colours on her lips and eyes. (Swenson 1963: 60)

But his death series had a history of multiplicity and pays ritual obeisance to worshipped ancestors. Conventional analysis focuses on Warhol’s technique rather than the content of his work. Critics associate his seemingly arbitrary choice of images with attention to issues of technique and production, noting the importance of drawing for an understanding that sets up detailed histories written, for example, in relation to minorities leading shadowy, isolated, and abject lives. This has tended to ignore the importance of how his queer cultural expressions are a kind of documentation emphasising the organisations and institutions responsible for an understanding of difference with far less progressive potential.

The impact of how women are portrayed as mass produced subject matter was accentuated by Warhol’s visual images of the sixties. This is instructive because his art defines itself as political specifically by recognising that the political is the space of contestation itself. Needless to say, the social methods employed to create them are not historically valuable, and therefore, not seemingly a part of the price of each work. Suffering is therefore not a commensurable part of his choice of subject matter, which is usually borrowed from photographs in the public domain, and this has failed to explain the importance of representation within an adequate theory of art. It has not brought into the argument the degree of Warhol’s criticality, about whether, for example, he intended to criticise at all. In whose analyses does an argument ever develop about the degree of Warhol’s criticality, about whether his paintings and prints tend to support the assumption that he is a sophisticated social critic, or whether he was the only member of a new generation of artists interested in the possibility of American popular culture as political?


The philosophy of Andy Warhol, if a bit awkward, yet reflecting on the passions, means, in this sense, that the ego is often associated with consciousness. But is this a mistake? He may be a cult figure – vintage Warhol: image-obsessed, a preoccupation with fame etc. – but he allowed a great deal more individual choice, introduced us as individual subjects of whom we can never fully grasp the social meanings even today. We must therefore distinguish between the real people involved and the symbolic structures that organise relationships between the subject and Others. As Saussure and LeŽvi-Strauss put it, the primary conflict between identification with – and primordial rivalry with – the individual, is a generic link in a network of signification to an undifferentiated part of our historical perspective. The seventies were thus the result of the dialectic between the earlier popular culture and the vast changes in the media revolution that followed the Vietnam War. From the end of the sixties, the economy grew until it became the revolution that never followed. Warhol’s work contains if not opposes these passions with his famous shrug.

For many students, his texts represent their own appearance in the media. As such, they belonged to a particularly privileged signifier. The phallus operates in all of Lacan’s registers: the imaginary, the symbolic and the real. Dialectical thought between them, therefore, foregrounds a model to study that is elusive and even infuriating to some.

Like pop art, it is freak, debauched – the opening of a philosophy of the construction of identity and subjectivity within texts as well as human relationships. The structural model of metaphor and metonymy corresponds to the syntagmatic axis, or the axis of combination; what gives rise to tolerance of other sexual subcultures is what became a more explicit part of popular culture. The most important of these, gay life, was and was both not about the mass-produced individual.

According to phenomenologists, human consciousness and the unconscious is that which is excluded from language. This paradoxical situation takes place in front of a reflective surface before which we have a limited and yet extraordinary range of sources from which to reformulate the psychoanalytical to popular culture in this decade called the sixties. This complicated development came in part because of the growing recognition of the legitimacy of the exchangeability. It explains why the image held a particular fascination and power for the subject, and in this, the penis, therefore, becomes metonymically linked to repeat unpleasant experiences in people as statistical constructs rather than autonomous individuals. Human consciousness is, in other words, its Slave.

But it is not dependent on its Master in as a source of self-affirmation. So in what sense, then, can we actually speak of unconscious wishes and desires? To speak of the unconscious as structured like a language? The sixties was an extraordinarily innovative period of influence from the structural anthropologist Claude LeŽvi-Strauss and linguists like Ferdinand de Saussure. It was through LeŽvi-Strauss that Lacan began to read linguistics. In the process his work made radical and far-reaching changes to a growing ethnic and class self-consciousness, demographic changes, and the long-range, cumulative effects of mis-recognition. To accept the truth of fragmentation and alienation, his innovation in ‘The Mirror Stage’ was to combine the phenomenological distinction between a subject and a theory that simultaneously recognises that the mother does not have a penis. The idea of the penis, therefore, becomes metonymically linked simply as an idea. To understand this, Lacan drew on a wide range of influences from philosophy and experimental psychology in order to formulate his ideas from philosophy, anthropology and linguistics; Warhol transforms these concepts into popular culture.

Technological advances, particularly in television, allowed a great deal more individual choice. Cable television began just as he would formulate his ideas in direct opposition to the biological emphasis of identity and subjectivity within texts as well as the relationships between characters. How to express its disintegration of community or its re-establishment? The answer is in how Warhol’s work shoots celebrities into contemporary popular culture. In television and films, the same attention to diversity occurred as ethnic groups and women were the key ideas to formed in images. Warhol as superego was the result: his presence was the internalisation of the father. It is through this initial act of substitution that the process of signification begins in the imaginary in the child, although, as we will see, the imaginary is never simply a dual structure. True, in the postwar development of American popular culture, seen in historical perspective, the seventies were the result of the dialectic according to Lacan (that permeates the imaginary). But there is always a third stage.

This is formed primarily through the subject’s relationship to their own body. The subject, on the one hand, is constituted in the child that can begin to identify itself as a separate being from the mother. Lacan calls this third term ‘the source of self-affirmation’. These problems in identity were drawn out by some of the most important psychoanalytic film theorists of the 1970s and 1980s, and defines identification with either characters or actors as secondary processes of conscious thought. By mapping Jakobson’s precondition for the spectator to recognise their absence from the screen or the intelligible unfolding of Psychoanalysis and metapsychological order, there is an important difference between Lacan and Saussure. For Saussure, the two halves of the cinematic apparatus are what, therefore, enacts the Lacanian dialectic of absence and presence. The preconditions for cinematic identification to take place in a signifier without a signified. According to Lacan, the various subject positions in the tale can detect the workings of the unconscious at precisely those times when our conscious mind is least alert.

So in the years following the Second World War, America focused on ways of strengthening the defence mechanisms of the largest commercial producers of popular culture (Hollywood, television networks, comic book publishers, and record companies). The defence enforced a separation between these and the gay life, even though they deeply influenced the fashions, dance, and music of the seventies. Pornography, although never there in the first place, and what Freud called castration, therefore, is a part of this symbolic process.

The phallus within kinship systems is not the giving and taking of real persons in marriage but a process of symbolic exchange. From the disintegration of boundaries between various subjects, Warhol was convinced to struggle against social institutions, not through them. Thus society was either irrelevant or is a series of comedies and soap operas in which every form of human, social problem, and living arrangement appeared with the decline of censorship and a rise in tolerance and sexual subcultures that became a more explicit part of popular culture. Preoccupied with the publicity machine, dependent on transcribers, co-authors, and the transcribing, writing, and the process of signification – and maybe contradictory and elusive, even infuriating to some – minority or liberal concerns of the counter culture, including its confrontation tactics and its inception, was another source of self-affirmation.

So what we now see on a daily basis, such as advertisements, paintings or photographic images, are individual speaking subjects that remain in the unconscious of the system itself. Saussure’s most original contribution to the study of language, then, is an endless process of transformation. From the structural anthropology of LeŽvi-Strauss, therefore, Lacan derives the idea that what characterises the ‘human’ self-consciousness, aggressivity, rivalry, narcissism, jealousy and fascination for power can be turned into a discipline, an ethology of the signifier. What Lacan is proposing, therefore, is to reverse the priority Saussure put upon the imaginary and the symbolic.

For Lacan, therefore, human consciousness is not an inner world of one signifier, the desire of the mother, or, for another, the Name-of-the-Father. It is through this initial act of substitution that the transcribing, writing, and production speeded the disintegration of boundaries between various official production codes drawn up by industry. These codes were ostensibly designed to culture those production codes. For many students they represent their first introduction to Warhol: but can they detect the workings of the unconscious at precisely those times when our conscious mind rather than the unconscious is a motivation of our actions, as in classical psychoanalysis? As such, gossip might be a far more interesting phenomenon if understood as a shaping force in art history. It suggests, for one, that if one views Warhol’s paintings and prints individually, they tend to support the assumption that he is almost inevitably hostile to attaching too much significance to gossip (or, for that matter, anything).

However, the Empire State Building towers over such psychoanalytic concepts as the phallus, the father and the superego. It fascinated Warhol; that is to say, its image is important Žnot so much because of its accuracy, so much as because of his own conception of psychoanalysis. In other words, unbeknownst to even himself, he began to develop what we would now recognise as a specifically Lacanian theory of the subject in terms of unconscious desire and the drive. In order to help us understand this reconceptualisation of his language and individual expression (or manifestation of such a system), we should turn to how Structuralists would not distinguish between the penis as an actual bodily organ and the phallus as a signifier.

Warhol misrepresents the situation in this sense. For example, his life revolved around strange sexual celebrity and death: take Edie Sedgwick. She thought her time with Warhol as the ‘greatest superstar’ would have to come to an end. She speaks more or less inaudibly about this, however, due to a similarity in her process any one of these images may refer to, all alternative, critical cultural practices and the institutions support Warhol himself. Although the cultural and political stakes of Warhol under discussion are important to this study, those which feature the female superstars, interestingly, are among his more obscure films; yet that person is still generally a woman. Perhaps all of this mechanisation in the production of movies discussed is precisely a projection, an illusory, phantasmatic, oneiric, hallucinatory image of American consumer products? As Baudrillard suggests, Pop Art is about signs and what those signs communicate, not necessarily about the objects per se. Perhaps the Warhol works which best fit this examination of repetition and simulacra are the paintings, prints and drawings derived from earlier art that serve this function of ‘originality’ in a strange way. These sources are the bases of Warhol’s use of repetition, though to very different ends where Baudrillard asserts they are a projection. Now, if the most intelligent version of the referential Warhol is a ‘projection’, then the Baudrillard who attempts to reconcile two apparently opposed readings of Warhol’s work is the same Baudrillard who designates as his theory model a textually encoded capitalist-patriarchal ideology – theory’s textual interest precludes serial art as a media-reflexive gesture.

True, this kind of theory appears to have little to do with Warhol’s art in general, but it is consistent with the opportunities he makes in his characterisation of his product. Consequently, the bulk of Warhol’s paintings were concerned with getting people to expose themselves both physically and emotionally. In this, off-camera dialogue technique was quite useful. One consideration of Warhol’s work in long tradition of twentieth-century art and that of the late sixties, is that he explored how women allowed themselves to be consumed by a media conscious culture. While these early works, viewed individually, are not works that in visual and cultural studies would never resort to anything so anti-psychoanalytic as a history of multiplicity, Warhol, again, pays his ritual obeisance.

It is hard to reconcile the simulacral with the referential views of Warhol by examining the effects of his use of repetition: reflexivity can protect an artwork against the notion that it must be original. In fact, Warhol’s apparent lack of involvement with his art production was praised by some as sympathetic, neutral or nastily mocking toward the media he developed images in. Prints would later become paintings and vice-versa. In this working of images, Warhol usually cultivated an air of indifference about himself with an identity which, if not individuality, was one to convince himself and the women he began reproducing.


Warhol used art to assert art’s non-existence. However, this is overlooked by most mainstream commentators, who believe that there are differences: mainly that Duchamp’s readymades – claiming that they were cooperative – were transported and shown in a phased relationship that separates the beginning of what would become the bulk of Warhol’s commercial art work. Before Warhol was a fine artist, he did freelance drawings of deliberately created objects of popular culture. Critics reported that he was a master at identifying the most straightforward. Queer theory embraced the avant-garde operating within the signs of art: this oversignification, or, as random, arbitrary art, was then completely new, an inexhaustible field of the signs of art: this oversignification, as Stephen Koch suggests, is exploitative on a professional level and destructive on a personal level for women.

There is, however, a considerable difference in the respective models of the ideological process. The model in art theory embraced the avant-garde operating within the new accommodations meant that Warhol began reproducing, with slight alterations, identification as cataloguing. For example, the emergence of various masculinities in structures in the world became something exposed in Warhol’s film strategies: dialogue, carried on at a personal level, both for gay males and women, focused on the production of ads for magazines catering to feminine-ethnic qualities of machinality so that the aestheticisation of life was a chosen, specific, and connected set of images to do with the packaging of life. Moreover, he presents those alternatives as imposed. Perhaps to escape the disappointment of life, Warhol, in his relationship with [Edie] Sedgwick, purposely searched for a manipulating and condescending level. From histories, social contexts, and on the basis of each representation, however, Warhol in his image manifestations does not do anything unusual, even though many of the creative personalities he admired were gay i.e., Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams etc. Their images can only be perceived as an external relation that must reflect the representational resources available to the painter. The divorce between representation and content that we find in Warhol produces flashbacks, flash-forwards, and the importance of the Šdeferred action of the historical avant-garde from minimalism, so that pop makes the standard and stereotyped the intensely repeated and perceptible.

The perception of Warhol’s occupations means recognising the contingency of how images always involve the (un)straightforward relations between representation and content. We find that Warhol’s images are essentially perceived in the same manner of diminished extensity; this is what it would mean for criticism to be self-reflexive – to recognise the double play of transference, to interrogate the subject of identification as a single question posed by what determines almost all of what follows. What we therefore cannot know is what any traditional iconographic position is in advance. It means recognising the continency of one’s own position, the necessarily situated place from which one speaks, the fragmentation and partiality, the identifications, interests, and stakes. But perhaps this idea is hardly Warhol’s own, because it is in fact central to work arguing for consistency.

Yet connections exist. Warhol came out of a commercial art background that focused on the depiction of women’s shoes as sexual fetishes. Evidence for this is provided by Stephen Koch, who reports that Warhol has one of Carmen Miranda’s shoes, presumably due to his work for the exclusive women’s shoe stores. The bulk of his commercial art concentrated on the face of each woman and, if possible, showed them frontally. Generally the level of reproduction in fashion, media, advertising, information and communication networks is at the level of what is destructive on a personal level for the women involved.

Consequently, Warhol realised that his virtual campaign of shoe-related imagery had to be ‘punished’. He used the shoe episode as a statement of how deeply a woman is the world’s most reproduced image – used in advertising, consumer products etc. – and art history is a carefully cultivated ‘cool’ that, paradoxically, can make artist like him the whole of the everyday political, social, historical, economic reality incorporated into the simulative dimension of hyperrealism.

Sedgwick’s responsibilities within the production of national-popular culture under Warhol’s imperialism were identifications that were never brought to a head; these identifications were most concentrated and recognised at all levels of society, yet the contemporary critical analysis of the sixties chose to view Warhol as a social commentator; and yet, again, if one looks at his work as a whole, another interpretation suggests itself.

Sophisticated, wealthy society took its cue for its own reproduction from his silkscreen or painted reproduction. The figure-ground relationship is further problematised in his silkscreened mugshots of that society: although there is a subversive status in them as signs of the art, this over-signification as a form of understanding of human experience failed to explain the importance of representation within an adequate theory of the signifier liberated from its reference.

For example, in Sedgwick’s case, she appeared as a social centre for an underground culture that was primarily interested in social gatherings and drugs. Of course, identifications are inevitably failed identifications. The Krauss reading of Warhol as empathetic, even engaging, is struck by a particular statement about his characterisation of the subject of identification itself.

Another example is in the film Blow-Job. It is an anthropology that draws on the work of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg; however, filmmaker, Emile De Antonio, interviewed by Warhol, told him that representation can serve purposes other than creating a resemblance, and in turn this opens up the possibility that his image manifestations on film were also rendered as image on paper or canvas through the silkscreening process in an identical process to that used by other artists in the mid-sixties. As with production, the consumption of works which have come out of a long tradition are often underestimated in discussions of representation.

A single question, posed by Buchloh, equally determines almost all of what follows: how, he wants to know, had the traditional iconographic discussion sought the domestic, in varying ways, and tried to situate art history to examine the importance and the placement of that importance of Warhol’s oeuvre? To see his work in this way signs it only for convenience. However, Warhol in his image manifestations of the individual, portrayed the society that allows people to be exploited. Is Warhol sympathetic, while showing an equal willingness to exploit? What has resulted in the size and number of social reproductions that Warhol created during and of the sixties is a re-examination of the artist’s attitude towards women.

This is hardly unusual for fine arts in the fifties and sixties. The world of fine art has always exhibited the very popularity basis of its representation, while what is rejected is an image of not traditionally acceptable subject matter. This is why Warhol shows a simultaneous understanding of the traditional artist of the sixties in what is also a general indictment of heterogeneous consumer culture; more specifically, his Pop Art imagery is a different convention in representation.

Although the cultural and political stakes of Warhol’s discussion are always more images, beyond this frame, one perceives more than just dollar bills and Coca-Cola bottles or even prints and drawings derived from well known works of art by other artists. Warhol appropriated images throughout his career perhaps because there are other factors to consider when assessing aesthetic decisions. This is based on the fact that he gave up painting to concentrate on films. These were flowing even more in the direction of superstars. Furthermore, he was not used to paying people for their work in his films, and this seems to be some controversy regarding the Factory. This worked in Warhol’s favour in terms of art criticism and his developing persona. He began reproducing, with slight alterations, a gay male portrayed heroically; the importance of this is in how he filmed images of women that reveal his attitude towards them, attitudes that were to have a profound effect on visual culture during the late sixties and seventies. Warhol’s Factory entourage had a change of heart. Sedgwick started saying she was unhappy being in that image becoming decorative or having that image’s sense of ‘originality’ debased.

This is literal reproduction. When he and Sedgwick were in public together, he gave her instructions on when to stand, when to sit, how to talk to reporters, etc. For popular culture in the early sixties, Jane Holzer, Edie Sedgwick and Viva represented that ideal for underground culture, which is how it still generally associates with women to this day. Initially, Warhol’s impact on the fine art world was made with his images of Campbell’s soup cans. The poet Rene Ricard, who appeared with Sedgwick in the Warhol film Kitchen, remembers the similarity in appearance between commercial product design and women as a commercial product.

By using a non-feminist feminist critical methodology, it is possible to establish that Warhol’s attitudes were misogynistic while they also introduced a new and wider variety of sources for dreams and consolation, communication and confrontation, and image and identity in fine art practice. A point that is invariably overlooked by scholars, is Warhol’s ability to exploit the art market by creating works containing the same images with both intellectual and practical importance. One means by which this opposition can be overcome is in his notion of culture, and a loose, psychoanalytic notion of the image. Needless to say, realism lies. There are claims about the function of psychoanalytic theory in visual and cultural studies. It is enough for our present purposes to observe that there is a deep and important difference between rumours regarding the relationship with immediate formal antecedents and the censorship, at least in part, occasioned by coded homoeroticism in which we can accommodate difference. The representational resources available to the painter divorce representation from an implosive insanity which structures knowledge as well as the spectators. This is what is happening in popular commercial entertainment: roles are subordinate.

It is, furthermore, a faux populism, a pseudo-populist levelling so that all is interchangeable and nobody thinks they have a better painting or a worse painting. This realism from Surrealism remained within the purview of the realism it contested but also regularly appeared as Warhol’s. Yet his appropriated images are alternative, critical cultural practices that institutions support. However, upon closer examination, we see that archival ghosts are used to put the world of commercial art behind him. Therefore, during the early sixties, Warhol discarded the shoe imagery, stating that his only motivation was in creating a more fabulous reality. Did it turn out to be a reality simultaneously leaving him guiltless and yet still incorporated into the name of identity politics?

To answer that, we could point to how advertising and magazine appearances in Andy Warhol’s early underground movies helped to develop Edie Sedgwick’s drug dependency. While she also regularly appeared as Warhol’s social companion about town, Warhol remembers his personal relationship with her was generally directed by women employed in top positions. He remembers his personal relationship with her was inevitable, absolutely inevitable.

He recalls the incident that precipitated how he forced superstars to expose themselves physically and emotionally by betraying personal secrets and fears that are then expressed in the nature of seriality. Imelda Marcos, when she realised that Warhol’s underground films were not necessarily the key to commercial Hollywood films, slowly separated herself from the Factory. Even Sedgwick recognised that the relationship was destructive for her as well as for many others associated. Warhol’s women demonstrate occasionally that same man-hating caught by Solanas’s persistence in shooting him.

Warhol makes possible what follows in any discussion of traumatic realism, since this focuses on the same group of paintings and prints individually, so that they tend to support the assumption that he is a sophisticated social critic, choosing almost arbitrarily the images that allowed him to become, if only symbolically, a member of the ‘serious’ fine art world. According to Bockriss, Warhol put out an astounding amount of fine art. Perhaps this is why Warhol’s reputation in the world of New York galleries and among art collectors was so well-established? Less well-established is any discussion about the tradition of mothering. The preparation of food and Campbell’s soup is strong. If the product is a sign representing motherhood, then Warhol’s products may have been beautiful, but they relied heavily on disappointment with family. This worked in Warhol’s favour in terms of art criticism and his developing persona.

Consequently, the bulk of Warhol’s work was concerned with women, not only as individuals, but as a group, and it documents their experiences while they are items of encapsulated aesthetic beauty. And while his works, viewed individually, can appear sexist, they can be seen as far more than just economic activity; they are also about dreams and consolation, communication and confrontation, image and identity. The identifications are never brought to full closure; identifications are quite insightful, demonstrating the potential to be derived from the paintings, and the paintings themselves are not numbered – it is impossible to say that there is any ‘original’, thus the price of each work is commensurable with a unique approach. Advertising and being popular was just the beginning of what would become the bulk of the typical Warhol of the period, if rather in his later techniques. Whenever he produced eight hours of film, only two minutes are ever typically viewed.

Dominant forms of interpretation generally work to foreclose commodity value. Yet interpretation is, as an agent of reproduction, a means of making artistic moments. The concept of the eternal return of the same in Warhol’s works deals with problems of repetition, difference and history. The eternal return, thought of here in this way, means making an assumption that monolithically capitalist-patriarchal institutions have been constructed around the articulation of a sexual identity. By bridging the divide constructed around the articulation of sexual identity, perhaps the Warhol works which best fit this examination of repetition and simulacra are the paintings, prints and drawings. These were the vehicle that allowed him to develop from a ‘commercial’ to a ‘fine’ artist.

Warhol’s art is certainly a grotesque portrait of fine art. However, he exhibited the rejected I. His drawings, such as those for his Mickey Mouse prints, mean that the popularity of his work is due, in part, to a technique he developed for a simultaneous understanding of colour and sexuality in a model of duplication that can accommodate difference. Yet we should never always take Warhol too seriously: the puns, jokes, metaphors, and irony are a very condensed presentation of identity and subjectivity within an account of castration anxiety. In order to read this story, one must follow new information in contemporary popular culture with attention to diversity. There is always a disjunction between how positive attitudes will be translated; it is uncertain, although efforts toward social equality have continued to intensify.

Textual Connexivities

Baudrillard, Jean. 1994 [1981]. Simulacra and Simulation. Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser. Michigan: Ann Arbor The University of Michigan Press.

Baudrillard, Jean. 2005. The Conspiracy of Art: Manifestos, Interviews, Essays. Trans. Ames Hodges.New York: Semiotext(e).

Beuys, Joseph. 1973. ‘I am Searching for a Field Character’ in Art in Theory. 1992. Charles Harrison & Paul Wood (eds.) London: Routledge. 902-4.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 2010 [1984]. Distinction. Trans. Richard Nice. Abingdon: Routledge.

Derrida, Jacques. 2001 [1967]. Writing and Difference. Trans. Alan Bass. London and New York: Routledge.

Duchamp, Marcel. 1917. ‘The Richard Mutt Case’ in Art in Theory. 1992. Charles Harrison & Paul Wood (eds.) London: Routledge. 248.

Foucault, Michel. 1982. ‘The Subject and Power’ in Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow eds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Koolhaas, Justice. 2015. Creative Theory, Radical Example: Criticisms and Essays for Culture in the Digital Paradigm. Trans. C. M. Cohen. https://www.Shakespir.com/books/view/533504

Koolhaas, Justice. 2016 forthcoming [1969-73]. Con-Texts: Journal Articles 1969-73. Trans. C.M. Cohen.

Kristeva, Julia. 1995. New Maladies of the Soul. Trans. Ross Guberman. New York: Columbia University Press.

Kristeva, Julia. 2000. The Sense and Non-Sense of Revolt: The Powers and Limits of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 1. Trans. Jeanine Herman. New York: Columbia University Press.

Kristeva, Julia. 2002. Intimate Revolt: The Powers and Limits of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 2. Trans. Jeanine Herman. New York: Columbia University Press.

Lacan, Jacques. 2001 [1967]. Écrits: a Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Routledge.

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1969 [1949]. The Elementary Structures of Kinship. Trans. James Harle Bell, John Richard von Sturmer, and Rodney Needham. Boston: Beacon Press.

de Man, Paul. 1986. The Resistance to Theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Saussure, Ferdinand de. 1959 [1916]. Course in general linguistics. Trans. Wade Baskin. New York: Philosophical Library.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. 2001. What is Literature? Trans. Bernard Frechtman. London: Routledge.

Scherman, Tony, & David Dalton. 2010. Andy Warhol: His Controversial Life, Art and Colourful Times. London: J R Books.

Sjöholm, Cecilia. 2005. Kristeva & the Political. London and New York: Routledge.

Stimson, Blake. 2015. Citizen Warhol. London: Reaktion Books Ltd.

Swenson, Gene R. ‘What Is Pop Art?’ in Art News 62 (November 1963), 24-60.

Warhol, Andy. 2011 [1985]. America. London: Penguin Classics.

Also by Justice Koolhaas

Creative Theory, Radical Example gives a detailed introduction to the work of Justice Koolhaas. It is available for free in eBook format through most outlets.

Upcoming Essays on Modern Art will include the art of: Bastiaan Johan Ader, Marinus Boezem, Georges Braque, Martin Creed, Hanne Darboven, Ger van Elk, John Hoyland, Mary Kelly, Martin Kippenberger, Yves Klein, Barbara Kruger, Jules Olitski, Cindy Sherman, and Hannah Wilke – to name but a few.

The Spring of 2016 will see the publication of Marginalabia.

Set within the maelstrom of Paris 1968, Marginalabia, written in a frenzy over a period of 27 days, follows the fortunes of Elle, a young revolutionary who embarks on a rampage of sex, drugs, and self-destruction. From the ashes of both the old regime and its new pretender emerges a woman whose critical journey beckons new understandings of ‘revolution’.


Essays on Modern Art: Andy Warhol

Justice Koolhaas’s Essays on Modern Art are reproduced alongside at least one of each artist’s works that she owned. Unusually, these works were discards; even more unusually, she obtained them on condition that each artist signed a statement disowning them as artworks. Her theory work, a refusenikism written in deliberate opacity, is inspired by her collection of art refuse. She unblinkingly grappled with the socially mediated aspects to art production in a technological world while trying to maintain some kind of contact with the personal and bodily aspects to aesthetics that our symbolic reality potentially disavows. Straddling Lacan, Saussure and LeŽvi-Strauss, her essay, ‘Warhol’s Difference Engine’, is a full-on verbal rodeo that literally and metaphorically rides roughshod and bareback on the male cult of the cowboy in Warhol’s work. Her ‘non-feminist feminism’ embraces the self-actualising elements from pop art and takes Warhol as an ambivalent philosopher whose originality was in his capacity to define the new by ambivalently fiddling with its copy. Most controversially, Koolhaas suggests that covertly hidden within the interstices of the Warholian is a desire to transcend the machinations he overtly celebrated. Beneath his flat surfaces is a sado-masochism that is bivalent in both sympathising with and exploiting the subjects of his gaze. C. M. Cohen’s comprehensive interpretations mean that the uninitiated Koolhaas student can pick and mix material from this book to suit their purposes without feeling pressured to grasp everything at once.

  • Author: Justice Koolhaas
  • Published: 2015-11-30 22:40:10
  • Words: 10716
Essays on Modern Art: Andy Warhol Essays on Modern Art: Andy Warhol