Andy Warhol, My 5-Year Old Daughter and Understanding Art

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At times my 5-year old daughter will go on a 30 page 2 hour artistic tangent; the perfect montage of paint, markers, and imagination.  Each picture:  a work of art (in her eyes) worthy of being on every appliance and wall in the house.  She can explain every picture in great detail despite they might not look like what she says they are.  During these tangents one thing is understood – it’s art because she says its art and you better not get caught trying to throw any of them away!

I always contemplate Andy Warhol during these times.  Yes, Andy Warhol; the man made famous via silk-screen paintings of celebrities, soup cans, and Coke bottles.  In a much more complex sense; Warhol did exactly what my daughter does:  he provoked thought by producing work that made people ask the question. “Is this art?”

Warhol was entitled to his vision and his work.  At is core: art is how the world and its many parts are interpreted. It’s a reflection of society.  All of us can look at the same things but see them differently.  Artists for years have been fascinated with natural landscapes, in fact you might not find a more painted or photographed subject than landscapes.  So if various other artists can have their canyons, forest and valleys than Warhol can have all his numerous pop culture icons.  The one thing you have to remember is that it’s more about the “image” than the subject matter.  It’s not that Warhol painted a picture of Elvis; it’s the story he told with his image and that’s what made it art.

In a way; he helped peel back the caps of possibility and imagination by forcing society to reevaluate what art was and what we thought art could be.  That’s why I bring my daughter up. At 5, she knows nothing of rules or a status quo.  She digs in the depths of her imagination, creates what she wants, and calls it art with no regards to anybody’s opinion.

I wish I could do that