Contemporary Art History

Andy Warhol's Paintings: A Critical Evaluation

Andy Warhol is a well-known American artist, and Wagner critiqued his works in her essays under the headings "Warhol Paints History" and "Race in America." Wagner focuses on Andy Warhol's works created between 1960 and 1970. Wagner notes out elements that make Warhol's paintings difficult to comprehend, even though she acknowledges their popularity. In the book Art Since 1900, Foster and colleagues also provide a critical and thorough evaluation of modern American art. A remarkable aspect of Wagner's view and the analysis made by Foster and colleagues is that they criticize the simplistic approaches taken by scholars and artists today in criticizing past artistic works.

Understanding Warhol's Paintings: The Assumed Meaning

In her critical evaluation, Wagner concentrates on one approach to understanding the creative works of Warhol. She focuses on the assumed meaning in Warhol's paintings. From the beginning, Wagner notes that some of the paintings of Warhol deviated from the conventional definitions. Wagner's primary argument is that since Warhol used familiar objects in his works, his paintings can easily trick the audience to believe that they understand them. However, the viewer realizes that the meaning of the pictures is complex after giving consideration to the connection between the objects and the message included (Wagner 98).

Interpreting Warhol's Art: The Complexity of Meanings

An excellent example provided by Wagner is the painting called Race Riot that was done by Warhol in 1963. By looking at the art, a viewer can quickly conclude that it describes the differences and struggles that existed in America during the time of slavery (Wagner 99). In that case, the viewer will just dismiss it as just a historical painting. Although the painting may have that meaning, it also describes the antagonism that applies to the contemporary societies, such as the relationships between the whites and the blacks and the relationships between the oppressors and the oppressed. Wagner gives examples of many other paintings with meanings that are different from what the viewer can assume. She criticizes modern artists because of applying simplistic views in their critique of the past artistic works. At some point, she even criticizes her thoughts regarding how she evaluates Warhol's paintings.

Warhol's Paintings: Underrepresentation and Simplistic Views

However, Wagner also criticizes the paintings of Warhol because of focusing on singles issues that seemed to be obvious to everyone. For instance, she feels that Warhol failed to give consideration to the role of women and children when making his paintings since they are underrepresented. In the end, Wagner warns against using small ideas that have been constructed to criticize past artistic works. Foster and colleagues attacked modern scholars and critiques due to their high level of complacency and ignorance when critiquing the previous creative works. Unlike Wagner who analyzes the original works of one artist, Foster and colleagues focused more on describing major artistic events that have taken place since the beginning of the 20th century. For instance, they describe the artistic events that took place in the 1960s, that is, the opening of Claes Oldenburg in New York in 1961.

Evaluating Past Artistic Works and Shaping the Present

The formation of Viennese Actionism by a group of artists in 1962, the installation of Warhol's painting titled "Thirteen Most Wanted Men" in New York in 1964, and the organization of Seth Siegelaub's exhibitions in 1968 (Foster et al. 557). Overall, both Wagner and Foster and colleagues gave significant attention to how the past artistic works are evaluated today. Wagner made a detailed analysis of Warhol's paintings while Foster and colleagues concentrated on describing the creative events that occurred in the past, hence shaping the present-day art. In their analysis, both Wagner and Foster and colleagues warned against the current trend in which simple approaches are applied in evaluating the past artistic works.

Works Cited

Foster, Hal, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois and Benjamin Buchloh. Art Since 1900:

Issue. (1996). Web. 17 February. 2017.

Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism, Volume 2: 1945 to present. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2016. Print.

Wagner, Anne, M. "Warhol Paints History, or Race in America," Representations 55. Special

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