Art and Photography

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
1000 Families2 ¼32 Stories365 Days51 Months5x7A Child's Life and Other StoriesA Couple of Ways of Doing SomethingA Lifetime of SecretsA Storybook LifeA Treasury of Victorian MurderActing OutAddiction and ArtAEIOUAfter PhotographyAliveAlive with Alzheimer'sAlone Together POCAltered StatesAmazing WomenAmelia's WorldAmerica at HomeAmerican AlphabetsAmnesiaAn American LensAn Exact MindAngel's WorldAngry Youth Comix #2Anjos ProibidosAnthony GoicoleaArchitecture of AuthorityArt After Conceptual ArtArt and HomosexualityArt and PhotographyArt in Three DimensionsArt Photography NowArt, Self and KnowledgeArt/PornAs We AreAsylumAttitudeAutoportraitBecoming Edvard MunchBeg the QuestionBelugaBerkoBig Rabbit's Bad MoodBill HensonBlab!Blab! 13BLAB! Vol. 14BLAB! Vol. 15BlanketsBoneyardBoneyardBoy StoriesBreakdownsBright EarthBrüselBurn, Bitchy, BurnBus OdysseyBut Is It Art?CanvasCaricatureChildrenChris VereneChristy ReportCinema PanopticumClass PicturesClick DoubleclickCloserClumsyClyde Fans CoincidencesComing of AgeComing of Age in Ancient GreeceConceptual Art and PaintingConfessions of a Cereal EaterConsider LoveCouch FictionCrumpleCzech EdenCzech Photographic Avant-Garde, 1918-1948Dan & LarryDargerDays With My FatherDead EndDear MomDeus Ex MachinaDigital DiariesDirty StoriesDisasters of WarDixie RoadDomestic VacationsDon't Go Where I Can't FollowDon't You Feel BetterDr. Jekyll & Mr. HydeDrawingsDriftlessEarly ExposuresEcstasyEdouard VuillardEnduring CreationEngland, My EnglandEntering GermanyEpilepticErwin OlafEscape from "Special"EVAEverything Will DisappearEvidenceExploring the Self through PhotographyExposureExpressionism Exquisite CorpseFamilyFamilyFamily LifeFandomaniaFaster than a Speeding BulletFictionsFigure and GroundFragile DVDFred the ClownFreud at WorkFridaFrom Girls to GrrlzFun HomeGeneration DadaGirl CultureGirls, Some Boys and Other CookiesGoing Into TownGood-ByeGraphic WomenGrave MattersGreat Hiking Trails of the WorldH R GigerHans BellmerHappy Halloween, Li'L SantaHauntedHere Is New YorkHey, Wait...High Art LiteHollywood CowboyHouse of JavaHow Art WorksI Am Not This BodyI Love You But I've Chosen RockI Thought I Could FlyI'll Be Your MirrorI'm CrazyIllumineIn My Darkest HourIn Search Of DignityIn the Floyd ArchivesIn the Line of DutyInformation ArtsIntenseInvisible No MoreIt Was A Dark And Silly NightJack Cole and Plastic ManJimmy CorriganJock SturgesJock SturgesJust Between UsKafkaKatharina SieverdingLacan at the SceneLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLife's a BitchLight in the Dark RoomLine of Beauty and GraceListening to CementLittle LitLi’l SantaLoadsLooking For MayaLost GirlLouis FaurerLouise BourgeoisLove and DesireLove Lust DesireLuckyManufactured LandscapesMass ObservationMaster BreastsMetacreationMisty DawnMnemosyneMomeMona KuhnMy Brain is Hanging Upside DownMy DepressionMy Family AlbumNatural BeautiesNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew and Used BLAB!New York September 11Night FisherNightswimmingNo More ShavesNot My ShameNotes from a DefeatistNothing ObviousNothing to HideNudes and PortraitsOliviaOlivia Saves the CircusOn City StreetsOne EyeOnly a Promise of HappinessOptic NerveOptic Nerve #11Optic Nerve #9Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & PiratesOutsider ArtOutsider Art and Art TherapyPanic at Toad HallPatrolPaul M. SmithPeculiaPeekPeople Love PhotosPerfect ExamplePersepolisPhilosophersPhonesexPhoto ArtPhoto Icons I (1827-1926)Photographers, Writers, and the American ScenePhotography and LiteraturePhotography and PhilosophyPhotography and SciencePhotography and the USA Photography RebornPicturing DisabilityPlaytimePOPismPortraits of ResiliencePostmodernismprettycitynewyorkPsychedelicQuestions without answersRaptors Raw YouthRay's a LaughRazmatazReclining NudeRed SnowRemembering GeorgyRequisite DistanceRineke DijkstraRippleRobert Doisneau 1912-1994Robert MaxwellRoom to PlayRXSame Difference & Other StoriesSanctumSatan's Sex BookSatellitesSchizophreniaSee Me Feel MeSelf-Taught and Outsider ArtSexSexual ArtSexyBookShadow ChamberSidewalk StoriesSkin DeepSleepwalkSmall FavorsSmile of the BuddhaSpectral EvidenceSpentSshhhh!Stranded in CantonStrange Stories for Strange Kids Stranger PassingStripped BareSummer BlondeSurrealismSymbols in ArtTestimonyThe Aesthetics of DisengagementThe AlcoholicThe Art InstinctThe Art of Adolf WolfliThe Art of MedicineThe BabiesThe Birthday RiotsThe Blue Day BookThe Blue NotebookThe BodyThe Body as ProtestThe Boulevard of Broken DreamsThe Breast BookThe Breathing FieldThe Bristol Board JungleThe Clouds AboveThe Devil and Daniel JohnstonThe Diary of a Teenage GirlThe Education of SophieThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Face in the LensThe Illustrated Story of OThe Incantations of Daniel JohnstonThe Madonna of the FutureThe Mirror of LoveThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New LifeThe Other PlaceThe PervertThe Philosophy of Andy WarholThe Places We LiveThe Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious BrainThe Push Man and Other StoriesThe Scar of VisibilityThe September 11 Photo ProjectThe Shiniest JewelThe Speed AbaterThe Steerage and Alfred StieglitzThe Story of Frog Belly Rat BoneThe Story of SexThe Stuff of LifeThe Three ParadoxesThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Transparent CityThe TravelersThe ValleyThe Van Gogh BluesThe Wolves in the WallsThe Yellow HouseThinThings as They AreThinking of YouTierney GearonTime and SilenceTina's MouthTits, Ass, and Real EstateTransitionTrauma and Documentary Photography of the FSATravelersTropical BlendTwentieth Century EightballTwilightUnlikelyVagina WarriorsVernacular VisionariesVietnam At PeaceVisual CultureVitamin PhWar Is Only Half the StoryWhat Are You Looking At?What Art IsWhat Good Are the Arts?What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally MannWho Am I, What Am I, Where Am I?Why Comics?William KentridgeWillie DohertyWithWriters on ArtistsYoung PhotographerZip Zip My Brain Harts

Related Topics
The Philosophy of Andy WarholReview - The Philosophy of Andy Warhol
(From A to B and Back Again)
by Andy Warhol
Harcourt, 1975
Review by Aakash Singh, Ph.D.
Jan 9th 2007 (Volume 11, Issue 2)

In The Painted Word, Tom Wolfe's brilliant exposé of the insecurity, egoism, avarice, and hypocrisy of the pioneers of American Modern Art, Andy Warhol is chosen by Wolfe as the archetype for the greedy upstart artist. Wolfe quotes with undisguised disdain and disgust a classified ad that in 1966 Warhol had printed in the Village Voice to the effect that he would endorse anything for money. For numerous intellectuals familiar with or interested in art or especially aesthetics, Wolfe's characterization was and still remains, more or less, the regnant take on Warhol. Andy Warhol, it is often pronounced, was a phony.

Warhol's autobiographical book from 1975, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, at first does very little to force one to change his or her opinion on this: it begins, in lieu of an introduction, with a transcript of a phone call between Warhol (who is called "A") and another unnamed person (who is called "B"), redacted by Warhol, who inserts his thoughts regarding the conversation into the text to create a narrative. This banal, at times even pathetic, 11-page introductory conversation is entitled "B and I: How Andy Puts His Warhol On," and it is ostensibly meant to inform the reader of Warhol's famous candor, his ability to speak critically of himself openly, and of some of his essential characteristics, such as the fact that he cannot bear to be alone (5). But what it instead conveys, especially to anyone even mildly suspicious of Warhol on account of presentations such as Wolfe's, is that Warhol is superficial, shallow and self-obsessed.

He is also full of contradictions. For example, though one of the first lines of the book is Warhol stating that he cannot be alone, he tells us in the first chapter--entitled, "Love (Puberty)"--that he is essentially a loner (23). He informs us that he did not have any psychological problems of his own (23), after already having narrated that he "had had three nervous breakdowns" when he was a child (21), and also describing in detail how pathologically jealous he was: "I get jealousy attacks all the time...I may be one of the most jealous people in the world....Basically, I go crazy when I can't have first choice on absolutely everything....As a matter of fact, I'm always trying to buy things and people just because I'm so jealous somebody else might buy them..." (49-50). No psychological problems indeed.

The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, then, presents the critical reader with a portrait of the artist as a shallow, egotistical, superficial, self-contradictory man. Tom Wolfe is vindicated--Warhol is a phony. But wait. Warhol is a phony what?

In chapter five, entitled "Fame," Warhol confesses something that actually begins to force the critical reader to reconsider the grounds of his negative attitude against him: "People used to say that I tried to 'put on' the media when I would give one autobiography to one newspaper and another autobiography to another newspaper. I used to like to give different information to different magazines..." (79). This is intriguing. Is that what Warhol is doing here, too? Is he providing just one among several possible autobiographies of himself? Indeed, Warhol published other books, other autobiographies, such as POPISM: The Warhol Sixties, and perhaps he enjoyed portraying a different Warhol in each of them.

And keeping this in mind, we must ask ourselves, what obligation does Warhol actually have to us, to his readers, not to dissemble, to fool around, to exaggerate or underplay, to seduce or mislead--aren't these partly the essence of art? While we are engaged in demanding of him, Will the real Andy Warhol please stand up?, Warhol, for his part, is sitting back and retorting, First prove to me why I should.

And I think he's got a point.

Although admittedly I started off in Wolfe's camp, and the first fifty pages of The Philosophy of Andy Warhol only serve to entrench a reader's negative biases, eventually, in middle chapters such as chapter 5, "Fame," chapter 6, "Work," and chapter 7, "Time," considerations such as those above mentioned began to eat away the ground of my critical stance. The reader begins to wonder, what right do I have to demand anything more from Warhol than his art?

This is not to say that Warhol is not a phony. Perhaps he is. But first it must be made clear by the accuser what he is a phony of. It is true that The Philosophy of Andy Warhol is not a great book. It lacks cohesive structure. For example, the later chapters (chapter 11, "Success," chapter 12, "Art," chapter 13, "Titles," and chapter 15, "Underwear Power") simply become short stories, which are entertaining and contain excellent dialogue, but have scarce connection to the first ten chapters. Furthermore, chapter 14 is a pointless waste of time. Additionally, in other chapters, such as 10, "Atmosphere," Warhol speaks of art and his preferences regarding space in a room and similar matters, and it is nearly impossible to believe that he really means a word of it. The book is bad. But on the other hand, Warhol never pretended to be a great writer. On the contrary, he admits that he wanted to write books only because many people he knew were writing books (jealousy) and of course he wanted to make money (greed).

In sum, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol may be a bad book by a jealous, greedy, dissembling, upstart artist. But through this bad book, my own opinion of this artist was slowly transformed from one of mild contempt into fascination and then ultimately both awe and respect. Perhaps Tom Wolfe is right, and Andy Warhol is a phony. But I must confess that Warhol won me over. Due to this book, I will now always be forced to query, upon hearing Wolfe's oft-repeated accusation, Warhol is a phony what?



© 2007 Aakash Singh


Aakash Singh, Reader in Philosophy, University of Delhi, South Campus, India


Welcome to Metapsychology.

Note that Metapsychology will be moving to a new server in January 2020. We will not put up new reviews during the transition. We thank you for your support and look forward to coming back with a revised format.

We feature over 8300 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than twenty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!

Join our Google Group!

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716