From Andy Warhol to Elizabeth Peyton: Americans’ Fascination with Popular Culture Lives On

Lauren Potter

Abstract


Celebrities are everywhere in America. Shining faces of the famous adorn racks of magazines in the supermarket. Booming voices of blossoming actors fill the interior of a car while tuned into a radio talk show. Celebrities have infiltrated every aspect of American culture, including fine art. While some artists may appear as celebrities, more and more artists are beginning to incorporate celebrities into their artwork. In the 1960s Andy Warhol began to immortalize Marilyn Monroe through his prints. Not only did Warhol repeat Monroe’s head throughout his pieces, but he created large scale works to mass produce the concept of fame. In contemporary art Elizabeth Peyton paints celebrities in a much different light. Some of Peyton’s smallest canvases are less than a square foot, featuring expressive brush strokes and a soothing color palette. Instead of categorizing celebrities and mass producing their image, Peyton seeks to give each celebrity his or her own identity, revealing a certain truth and genuineness to each of these famous figures. As Warhol and Peyton seek to reveal celebrity portraits in different atmospheres, one discovers that American viewers tend to generalize or idealize celebrities in much the same way. Some Americans read tabloids to elevate their own self esteem by dehumanizing celebrities, while other Americans watch shows about celebrity real estate to dream about a life they could have had. Through the analysis of celebrity fine art, one can easily see the power celebrities hold in Americans’ realities as well as their creative processes.


Keywords


Popular Culture; Celebrity; Andy Warhol; Elizabeth Peyton

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