Does this girl look familiar?
Aside from the portrait’s subject, cultural icon Marilyn Monroe, there is another given here. The image is widely known as the work of Andy Warhol, whose colorful pop-culture adaptations are as ingrained in our culture as the subjects themselves.
An obvious fact, and perhaps reading like a young adult text on important contemporary artists. What about the first image? Perhaps a less known work. Not least of all because it has been locked away with other forgotten Warhol drawings for the past couple decades or so.
These early drawings are from the 1950s, a decade before the train of Conestoga wagons rumbled along the frontier of pop art.
The things the “great” do before they are “great” are seen retrospectively, as worthy of praise. Torn pieces of notebook pages. Doodles. These, and other early Warhol work are on display at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark. What if Andy Warhol had used this style and these images to build his legacy?
The forces that encourage some directions and not others puzzle, but are somewhat moot in retrospect. We still see these images, after years, and they inspire us. We stand and regard each image, looking for genius. Order. Disorder. Innovation.
Might they inspire us otherwise? Perhaps again the message is not to discount those sentences scribbled, these failed recipes, that curious sketch of the giraffe warning “Look Out!”
Because. We won’t all make it to the Louvre. Or Carnegie Hall. Or Madison Square Garden. But what we do is still great. It has to be.