Date of Original Version

1998

Type

Article

Rights Management

All Rights Reserved

Abstract or Description

Celebrity and Death— two concepts with which Andy Warhol was obsessed. In theory, they are completely different realms of existence: Death is concrete and eventually experienced by all humans, while Celebrity is the elusive prize that only the "special" people obtain. But in the post-war America when Warhol began his work, Death began to take on the same mythical qualities of Celebrity, and Celebrity began to posses some of the finality of Death. Through the proliferation of mass media and cultural commodities in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Death and Celebrity began their unified trajectory to a plane of an all-American "other" reality. Warhol's fascination with the two subjects accounts for some of his most striking work— the Death and Disaster series and the Celebrity silkscreens. It is not coincidental that these two series were created during the same time period, and perhaps the closeness of their inception and creation accounts for some of the cynicism that comes when viewing the two series together. For when looking at Warhol's silkscreens, it becomes obvious that only in the culture "America" is it sometimes necessary to die in order to achieve a certain "superstar" status of Celebrity; only in the culture "America" can someone find Death masquerading as separation, public domain, and immortality in Celebrity.

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Published In

The Sloping Halls Review, 5.