Art that inspires and inquires against norms


Hannah Maes, Arts and Rec Editor

Andy Warhol’s artwork is like an all you can eat buffet for your eyes- it assaults your senses and makes you question reality.

   I was recently traipsing through  the contemporary  section of the Art Institute in Chicago, getting ready to leave, when something suddenly caught my eye… the Andy Warhol exhibit.

The euphorically vibrant colors and controversial subjects of Warhol’s are overwhelming and intense because they defy the conventional concept of art and the purpose of art in our society.

Warhol’s art is all about taking pop culture icons and portraying them in non-conventional ways.    He pushed the boundaries between the reality that society pushes us towards and what a little imagination can do for our conventional world.

   His art focuses on many relatable topics, such as politics and culture, but he relies on pop culture items that everyone knows of to transcend his message. He is able to take seemingly drab subjects and transform them into art with profound meaning. Warhol criticizes the consumerist society we have created by using popular ‘first world items’ as the topics of his pieces.

   The famous Campbell’s soup can painting takes something common-place and seemingly boring and transforms it into something fascinating. Warhol’s specialty was seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary by transporting his viewers into a world where everything is beautiful and everything has meaning.

   According to “Artsy”, a magazine that features the most up and coming contemporary artists, before Warhol art was part of an elitist clique. Only established traditional artists could become famous and only the rich could afford the art they produced. He delved into some of the most controversial topics of the time, including sexuality and the rise of rapid consumerism. Most of his portraits were painted nude, and unlike any other artist of the time, his artwork was mass produced so that everyone could afford to have a little Warhol style in their life.

   Warhol, and pop-art in general, elevated the standard for art, using it as a way to make a commentary on our societal norms and raise awareness for social problems.

   Pop art became popular in the 1950s because it rejected traditional art and focused on intense emotional scenes and everyday objects that mocked the original structures of society. If you pick up an old comic book from the 50s, all of the “KA-POWS” and “WHAMS” are exaggerated ways of portraying reality, which is a staple of this style of artwork.

   Warhol is an inspiration for everybody, not just artists, because he pushed the limits and questioned the norms of our modern day society. He created beauty from the boring and proved that art is everywhere, you just have to learn how to see it. In Warhol’s own words, “Art is what you can get away with.”