John Roberts on Warhol in Varieties of Modernism

Paper Type: 
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1119 Words
Date:  2021-03-13

John Roberts article Varieties of Modernism focuses majorly on Andy Warhol's aesthetic views with regards to art in Postwar America. Similarly, the article revolves around Warhol's development of the Factory and its forms of labour. The Factory was the studio Andy Warhol set up in the 1960s for artistic productions. The author is more concerned about the significance of the subjects gradual change to silkscreen and screening. To achieve this goal, he analyses the Factory operations and its modes of labour. The author explains that Warhols art tend to have contradicting ends. First, through studying of his work, he is portrayed as one in support of capital as well as mass culture (Roberts 371). On the contrary, his works present him as a sneering detractor. John Roberts asserts that even though politics incline Warhol's opinion about the influence of mass culture on consumers and spectators, his artistic works display otherwise. The subjects art do not appear from a politicized perspective with regards to mass culture. The author defines Warhol as a real artist who reverts to the ancient art and design techniques. Then again, Warhol is described as an artist who embraces various artistic techniques. This earns him world class recognition and he collaborates with many celebrated artists and musicians. These ancient art and design techniques trace their roots from German Werkbund and Bauhaus (Roberts 371). However, he shows slight interest in production of art as films or designs for a relatively huge audience. The subjects main concern was how an artist would portray himself or herself over to the various methods of attention without losing his or her individualistic self as an artist. This is the sole reason why he maintained his identity as a producer of paintings despite the fact that he did fashions, projects, films and design work with musicians. Warhol believed that mechanical production art made it lose its real taste, value and meaning. Therefore, he discouraged artists from embracing the modern technology in their art production. The author brings about the aspect of modernism influence to art. Just like Warhols argument towards maintaining his real identity as a painting producer, he paints a bigger picture for all to read between the lines. He actually represents the ancient art that was on the verge of collapse. This was due to competition from the Industry produced art that lacked the originality.

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The subjects initial studio was located in East 47th Street in New York from the early till late 1960s. The studio occupied was a one floor with an open plan office. The author describes the Factorys location as having initially belonged to a former hat manufacturer. He further concludes that perhaps the factory got its name perhaps from the initial floor occupants. The factory was covered with aluminum foil and silver painting. The office open plan signified it as a workplace and social arena as well. The author adds that the interior of the factory was created using amalgam (Roberts 372).

The author focuses on the idea of collective production to try and explain the operations of the Factory. The core function of the latter was to experiment, implement and support democratic principles. Warhol holds the thought of commercializing the idea of collective production (Roberts 373). Although production of art was at its peak, the Factory members never disguised themselves as a business entity. The author states that the labour force at the Factory operate on permissive terms and its only one employee who is on payroll. Besides Warhols factory, another art group, ARC group, adopts this idea. The group was formed in the 1980s with a group of students from Slade School of Art. Driven by the desire to make site specific installations out of already used items, the would be members came together and founded the group. The group did their exhibitions in several European cities before calling it quits in 1991.

John Robert brings out the aspect of collaboration on Warhols in his Factory. Collaboration in art basically means the idea of not letting your ego get in your way in the process of achieving a common goal or objective. Adoption of this technique among artists allows one to gain something new while working in a group. The author describes how Postwar America art had the early modernists and Romantic notions as its driving force. Warhol reclaimed the alienated studio and turned it into a factory. Together with Stella, Judd, Smithson and later Sera he managed to turn the place to a site of collective responsibility. Henceforth the author portrays the studio as a place where administrative, mechanical, theoretical and recurring labour is integrated during production. Repetitive labour was definitely evident in the early factory. The author explains that what attracted Warhol to collaborative practice, mechanical production and teamwork was when they got rid of the ego in them (Roberts 374). The author states that Warhol chose not to let his male ego get in his way. He disregarded the ego in males as an obstacle to a productive community. Since the subject gave up his ego, he was able to concentrate on his objectives.

Apart from Warhols collaboration, the art industry has witnessed quite a number of artistic collaborations. The first example pits Mark Rothkos collaboration with fellow artist Philip Johnson. In fear that he might lose his art work, Rothko is summoned to construct a meditative house for his paintings. Unfortunately he was at loggerheads with Philip Johnson who was the architect and subsequently ended his life before the house was completed. However, the finished project became a monument to his genius toured by thousands every year.

The second collaboration was between Luis Bunuel and Salvar Dali is another example of artistic collaborations. Dali created a comfortable relationship with Luis Bunuel. Both men were staunch imagists at the Surrealist School. The duo was able to make a skit that exposed the free-association lifestyle to its aesthetic maximum. The third collaboration involves Bjork and Matthew Barney. Their feature length seems to be the only logical explanation of a collaboration pitting the couple.

In conclusion John Roberts highlights the ideas Andy Warhol employs in his artistic dominance. The technique of collaboration as depicted by the author helps artists learn something new from other artists. He outlines how Warhol puts aside his ego and works towards his goals not letting his ego get in the way. On the other hand, the technique of collective production goes hand in hand with developing artists not as individuals but as a group. Andy Warhol can be considered as the godfather of silkscreen printing and film as he adopted it in his Factory.

Works Cited

Roberts, John. "Warhrol's "Factory'; painting and the mass-cultural spectator." Roberts, John. Varieties of Modernism. n.d. 371-393.

Cite this page

John Roberts on Warhol in Varieties of Modernism. (2021, Mar 13). Retrieved from

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