Andy Warhol in the consumer society


Andy Warhol nella società dei consumi

Andy Warhol in the consumer society


A Coke is always a Coke and no amount of money can make you buy a better Coke than the one that the last of the poor people is drinking on the sidewalk in front of your house. All Coke is always the same and all Coke is good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President of the United States knows it, the bum knows it, and so do you.
Andy Warhol


All in all, Andy Warhol, a statue in a shopping mall, would deserve it. Any space where merchandise triumphs is a tribute to the Pittsburgh artist. Embodying the time in which we live, anticipating its exasperations, means rising to the altar of the future.

Appearance, form, merchandise, symbolism. Ephemeral emptied of content. Reproduction in series. Exposure of brands.

These are the activities that take place in supermarkets. Those who work in sales should delve into Warhol’s work, just as anyone who wants to understand the meaning of our time should start from his art.

The supermarket and the shopping mall are multimedia spaces in which music, image, label, blend with slogans, and the contents have the sole function of serving the logic of commerce as to legitimize the consumer society. Like the discreet fascination aroused by a shopping flyer. The background is a theatrical curtain. In the foreground, the words Grandi Marche. Then, the subtitle: Unbeatable Prices. Inevitable is the double pack of Coca-Cola. Followed by oil and coffee from the most popular brands. Flipping through the pages, we find a terrifying series of inductions to consumption: the taste of our meats; fresh fish every day; seasonal fruits and vegetables; quality gastronomy.

Terms, not casual: taste, freshness, seasonality, quality. There is, of course, the magic word: unbeatable prices. Finally, the addition of a menu. And again, collections of awards (alleged), which distinguish one chain from another.

Warhol’s art proposes to us the icon of the star that is an end in itself, does not resolve any doubts and has as its necessity to appear: and this is possible for all of us, at least for fifteen minutes in our lives (according to the aphorism attributed to him and that perhaps is not even his), but we must optimize and make use of that brief lapse of time in the face of eternity. Warhol is an object subject, it is us, we are the commodity itself.
It is a mechanism that cannot be stopped for a single day because the human being is conceived by society itself, only as a consumer. Warhol shows us man moving in the wonderful circle of mass culture, in which not only social distances are reduced, but also individual personalities, already mortified by existence, to find refuge in appearance, conformity, and artifice: a being at the perpetual mercy of advertising.

The shopping mall represents the belly of consumer society and it is here that we find Andy Warhol’s message. If on the one hand he artistically feeds on the mass industry, on the other hand, he certainly does not send soporific messages to it.


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