Andy Warhol's “Factory”: The Production Site, Its Context and Its Impact on the Work of Art

Science in Context 4 (1):101-132 (1991)
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Abstract

The ArgumentIt is often observed by historians of postwar American art that painters and sculptors of the 1960s sought a more mechanized “look” for their art. I argue that the changes reflected in the art have their source in a deeper shift – a shift at the level of production, expressed in new studio practices as well as in the space of the artworks themselves.In the period immediately before, during, and after World War II, the dominant topos of the American artist was that of a solitary genius, alone in his studio, sole witness to the miraculous creation of his art. I demonstrate that artists of the 1960s, against this backdrop of heroic modernism, engaged in a different rhetoric and practice, one based on the models of industry and business. The studio of Andy Warhol, named the “Factory,” is viewed as apodictic of this great change, with its rudimentary assembly line and highly social mode of production.The change in practice instantiated in Warhol's Factory is significant in and of itself, but I argue further that it expressed itself in the “place of knowledge” – the space within Warhol's paintings and objects, and the newly social space in which they signify. The context for that signification thus becomes crucial to our understanding of the “Warhol phenomenon” celebrated in popular and arthistorical texts. The ambivalencies embedded in Warhol's Factory, where the artist's role oscillated between manager and proletarian worker, are seen as a function of their context. Conflicting signals are also broadcast by the works of art, which speak in the dialect of mass production with the accent of the irreplaceably unique.

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References found in this work

Review of H Ow Experiments End.Ian Hacking - 1990 - Journal of Philosophy 87 (2):103-106.
How Experiments End.Peter Galison - 1988 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (3):411-414.
The Organization Man.William H. Whyte - 1960 - Ethics 70 (2):164-167.

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