251D: Discussion 9

Chapter Five of Wollen focuses on the work of Any Warhol, who reprsents a synthesis of the disparate avant-garde streams of minimalism (applied to John Cage as a term by Wollen) and "camp" (Sontag). "Fordist mass production demanded mass marketing and mass consumption as its corollary." (P.158). The time was ripe for the creation of the democratic media of film and television (see Discussion 8). Warhol attempted to bring art back to everyday life by using the found objects of commerce (commercial products). Like Cage, he also had a "respect for the uneven rhythms of day-by-day existence." (P. 159). Cage was fascinated by silence, automatically negating the traditional appeal of the elements of music, like melody and accompaniment. The methodology of the avant-garde is at work, redefining priorities of the structural elements.

The example of Any Warhol also illustrates cross-fertilization between the arts, an essential revitalizing element in he avant-garde. Warhol went from painting to dance, to film, retaining some "traditonal elements" which had emblematic meaning to the person on the street. Warhol's Factory (conceptually taken from automatism of surrealism) was a "travesty of a real factory," applying Fordism to art (Robin Murray). The caricature elements of soviet mass production, with deliberately induced errors, was an essential characteristic (P. 164-5). Devices such as the "Andymat," a device that randomly displayed an array of images make displaying the display a part of the artistic experience (another example of art as process in the avant-garde). Wollen makes a further point that, whereas Cage's methodology was quasi- religious or spiritual, Warhol's occupied the realm of the social and psychological. The exhibition at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, curated by Warhol in 1970, cntained all the elements of his artistic philosophy (Raiding the Icebox, the name of the show, lends itself to Wollen's monograph).

The final stages of Warhol's evolution toward the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, unfold the whole panoply of Pop Art.

Chapter Six talks about post-modernism as a "morbid symptom" in the displacement of the last wave of the avant-garde. The Anarchic Eclecticism of the Russian emigrè painter,Komar and Melamid has all the signs of parody and irony (P. 187) which come with retrenchment. Chapter Seven proposes a framework of "Tourist Art" which is a kind of democratic synthesis of native art with an outside encounter. The paradigm suggests that with shifts in the nature of culture contact, new art forms emerge (P. 195). An earlier reference is made to the murals of Diego Rivera in the United States. Wollen postulates a "'para-tourist' art alongside and as an alternative to the postmodernism of the core." (P. 191).

These chapters seem to be a good analysis of the cycle of the avant-garde into the present day and imply that this cyclical behavior may be a basic characteristic of the type.
A list of "avant-garde" works, presented by students follows:

  • John Cage Rolywholyover
  • Stuart Dempster Cistern Chapel
  • John Zorn Road Runner
  • Christian Marlay Ping Pong Polka
  • Heather Busch & Burton Silver Why Cats Paint
  • Pamela McCorduck Aaron's Code Meta-Art, Artificial Intelligence, and the work of Harold Cohen.
  • Witold Lutoslawski "Fugue" from Preludes nad Fugue
  • Charles Ives The Unanswered Question
  • Henryk-Mikola Górecki Old Polish Music,