Andy Warhol


Back from the exhibition on Warhol at Palazzo Cipolla in Via del Corso in Rome (last day yesterday, one hour in line), I was left fascinated by his figure. In my opinion, Andy represents the artist of the future by antonomasia, he proclaimed and created a series of crazy things in a serious way managing to be credible.

Having already written about shopping malls twice, raising questions about consumption and mass production, I could not be unimpressed by his aphorisms on products and brands associated with democracy and not because they are fundamental, but because they always raises a reflection.


Buying is more American than thinking, and I'm as American as they come.

I looked at myself in the window of a shop and I noticed that I’m really flashy on the street.

An artist can slice a salami, too!

I think an artist is whoever knows how to do one thing well; cooking, for example.

I don't know where the artificial stops and the real starts.

The way to be counter-cultural and to have a mass commercial success is to say and do radical things in a conservative form. Like McLuhan did: write a book to say that books are obsolete.

I started as a commercial artist and I want to end up as a business artist.

The idea of America is wonderful because the more one thing is the same, the more American it is.

The masses want to appear anti-conformist, so this means that anti-conformism must be produced for the masses.

What is really great about this country is that America has started the custom for which the richest consumer buys essentially the same things as the poorer. While watching Coca-Cola advertising on television, you know the President also drinks Coca-Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca-Cola, and you can drink it too.

Tutti gli scandali aiutano la pubblicità, perché non c'è migliore pubblicità della cattiva pubblicità.

The most beautiful thing in Tokyo is McDonald's. The most beautiful thing in Stockholm is McDonald's. The most beautiful thing in Florence is McDonald's. Peking and Moscow don't have anything beautiful yet.

If people collected all my sentences they'll see I'm an idiot and they'll stop asking me questions.

He was the incarnation of paradox even at the point of his death, when during a gall bladder operation - he feared death and yet he was fascinated by it - to avoid the pain he asked for a very strong dose of anaesthetic that was fatal for him.

Personally, I consider his way of thinking starting from the obsessive premise of consuming as a lifestyle: Andy Warhol is the modern icon that embodies the times we live better than anybody else does. If on one hand he artistically eats mass industry, on the other he certainly does not throw soporific messages to the mass.

We are speaking of a silk-screen printing plant as a parallel to the industries that produce consumer goods. More than one advertising poster has been inspired by the style adopted by Warhol, more than a music cover and even the modern photographic effects on our smartphones’ apps or PCs take into account the lesson of Andy. And not to mention all the television formats about various factories, from gastronomy to music, whose authors, aware of it or not, in some way (indeed, definitely in another way) pay tribute to Warhol. But he was a dangerous artist, you did not want to cross the artistic fauna that frequented Andy's farm, or at least it was for the right-thinking America that, although becoming more lenient because of the revolution of the '60s, was always heir to the star-spangled dream.

Finally, I dare, there is something sinister and devastating even in his last name: if we add a last vowel, we get war hole, the war hole or the hole war.

With regard to the countless aphorisms found on the internet, I think that Chinese proverb suits him perfectly: those who lie always find the truth in their hands.

I conclude with the sentence about the famous fifteen minutes of fame (which was only attributed to him), a prophecy that appears as a moral serigraphy of a society that offers countless instruments of arrival to a short fame through the web and social networks. Chances are that Andy in his madness had already foreseen it.  


© Enrico Mattioli 2018