The Museum Talk: Wine Tasting Party at Andy Warhol Museum

There were more young visitors in Andy Warhol museum than Carnegie Museum of Art on Friday night, possibly due to the fact that going through exhibitions sprawled on seven floors may kill someone old, possibly due to the wine tasting party which was hosted in the lobby.

On one hand, there are a lot to explore in the museum ranging from oil painting, photographs to films and Warhol’s own collections; on the other hand, the first floor, with walls of biography in words and pictures but few art work, is enough for a lot of visitors, including me.

More than 20 years have passed after Warhol’s death, his fame hasn’t faded. What he has drawn bring colossal sum of money from auction houses; but what he has said and the impact of his words cannot be simplified to the number of digits behind the dollar bill sign.

I am no high-brow art critics, but neither in his works nor from his minds can I find things that are of beauty or moving. Warhol prefers talkers to beauty, as he claims “one’s company, two’s a crowd and three’s a party”; but not every talk can be meaningful especially if one cannot keep his mouth shut. Warhol asked people only to look at the surface of his works, which bear his glamour like shimmering silver. But I probe no further, because the surface provides few clues about what it is. After all, among the three most influential American post-war artists, Hopper is reflective, Pollock is primal, yet Warhol refuses any summarization.

In a recently published book (“The most Arrogant Man in France: Gustave Courbet and the Nineteenth Century Media Culture” by Petra ten-Doesschate Chu), Gustave Courbet was described as the first artist who realized to win publicity is more important than to win jury prize in modern era; if so, Andy Warhol is then the consummate icon and true master of art publicity. Courbet allowed anyone to caricature him publicly while Warhol, even though saying too much, never precisely explained what he thought of his works, thus what we perceive him today has been metamorphosed and transfigured through media reviews. The media, naturally chose the most accessible and tangible perspective — the artists, his words, his behaviors and even his life, but NOT his works.

People, especially young generation have always something to say about Warhol. For them, the wine tasting party at Warhol Museum is essentially Warholian-spirited; and going through the seven floors of works after half-drunk is only icing on the cake. The same group who can talk about Warhol for hours may stumble when the subject changes to Pollock or Rothko because the latter represent what the majority of artists are: inaccessible except through their artworks.

Wandering back to the museum lobby, I sneaked into the quiet basement, where I took some B&W photos from a self-served photo booth. The pictures have washed-out effect as if from the 50’s. In them, I have four different facial expressions. There were no motives behind them, just four different expressions, at the surface.

About Hui

Wang Hui lived from 1632 - 1717 and followed in the footprints of his great grandfathers, grandfather, father and uncles and learned painting at a very early age. He was later taught by two contemporary masters, Zhang Ke and Wang Shimin, who taught him to work in the tradition of copying famous Chinese paintings. This is most likely the reason why critics claim that his work is conservative and reflects the Yuan and Song traditions. One critic claimed that "his landscape paintings reflect his nostalgic attachment to classical Chinese aesthetics. Along with the other Wangs, Wang Hui helped to perpetuate the tradition of copying the ancient masters rather than creating original work.

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