Skip to main content

The Statue (and Stature) of Andy Warhol

Artist Rob Pruitt unveiled his statue of Andy Warhol in Union Square on Wednesday, and it didn't take long for passersby to whip out their cell phones and take pictures of the famous artist. Such is fame. Covered in chrome, Warhol is dressed in jeans and a jacket with tie, the kind of mix of informality and formality that signifies the departure of buttoned-down culture and the dawn of the a more liberated era in the United States. We recognize the figure is Warhol from the chiseled cheekbones, wig, and glasses. In his right hand he's carrying a "medium brown bag," the signifier of the upscale Bloomingdale’s department store, the kind he would use to hold copies of Interview magazine, the oversize splashy publication he started in 1969. Around his neck is the strap for the Polaroid camera, one of the artist's favorite and instantly gratifying media for capturing an image, a necessary component of fame.

It seems fitting, of course, that in the presence of a famous man sporting a film camera, people seem instinctively driven to snap a picture. At the unveiling, members of media organizations brought out their high-end digital cameras, devices mostly confined to the inventor's laboratory during the Warhol 70s. One can presume that people take pictures of whatever sort for the many reasons that Susan Sontag noted in her book On Photography, among them, just to prove that they were there. "Photographs will offer indisputable evidence that the trip was made, that the program was carried out, that fun was had," Sontag writes. In this case, that the Warhol statue was seen. Viewers may also feel some connection to the artist, and they take pictures to reaffirm their relationship. What's funny is that this chrome statue, reflecting light back out onto the environs of Broadway and E. 17th Street, is particularly hard to photograph. Fittingly so, because as Warhol scholars have pointed out, he used his camera not only to turn reality into an image but to keep real people at arm's length.

Get ready for a wave of opinions as to whether or not Pruitt's Warhol looks like Andy Warhol. Given the proclivity of many New Yorkers to play games of status, voicing an opinion about the statue's ressemblance to Warhol implies that the speaking subject personally knew Warhol and thus would be in a position to comment. I predict this will be a popular pastime, though making judgments as to the monument's likeness to the artist seems impossibly nineteenth century. Anyway, the statue matches the popular representation of Andy, and that's what matters here. The presentation comes off playfully, of course, because monuments are not normally titled after the first nicknames of the subject. ("The Abe Memorial" in D.C. just doesn't sound right.)

As old-fashioned as judging the statue on its verisimilitude, interpreting the meaning of the statue based solely on the intentions of its creator, Rob Pruitt, would be rather retro, too. Nevertheless, the motivation is a sincere and compelling one. The artist said at the unveiling that Andy Warhol inspired him as a burgeoning artist to move to New York. The monument then stands as a symbol of Warhol's dynamic place in the hearts and minds of aspiring artists. Pruitt's Warhol is pedestrian, in a literal sense and in the best way. The silvery chrome color works well in communicating a calm and accessible energy, a self-reflexivity that also becomes a mirror.

On one hand, he's just a guy, this Andy, on a New York street corner, near a place where he made work for the masses and in collaboration with others, hustling his magazine and making pictures. On the other hand, he looks like he moved to New York City, not from Pittsburgh as it has been assumed, but from his original star home beyond the Milky Way. Many of us make art and work hard on our careers, but Andy did it better than anyone. Inspiring many to pursue similar dreams, he personally obtained a level of artistic intelligence and fame that's hard to reach. It's worth the effort always.

Andy is worthy of this pedestal. Take his picture.

The Andy Monument by Rob Pruitt is presented by the Public Art Fund. Images by Walking Off the Big Apple.

Read the related post - Capote, Taylor, Warhol, Williams.


Anton Deque said…
Good Morning Teri from a wet England. (The flowers need it.) We saw a fascinating show in London last week at the Barbican (horrid dump, but nice gallery) entitled "Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown and Gordon Matta-Clark: Pioneers of the Downtown scene, New York 1970s".

Your filter may not welcome a link but the barbican Art Gallery London will be easily found.

Going round the show I kept looking at the 70s era photographs of pre-Banana Republic era SoHo and thinking about your blog and a 'walk'. I have searched names on WotBA, but if I have missed an earlier post please forgive me and point me in the right direction. Otherwise, food for thought? (Matta-Clark was interested in 'Food' ...)

Best Wishes.
Teri Tynes said…
Thanks, Anton, and good morning to you. That's a fascinating idea, and I will look into doing something like that. I know artists who were around then and still live in SoHo/Tribeca. First of all, I should say, in full disclosure, that about 80% of my wardrobe comes from the Banana Republic in SoHo. But I know what you mean. I'm also seeing some of the art momentum creep back into SoHo, so I will look for opportunities to write about the SoHo galleries soon. I'm already planning some of these posts for May.
villa moraira said…
Great post....Especially the pic of the Andy Warhol'd statute....I have no much information about this guy and i only know that he was the famous painter as well as the filmmaker in Amnerica..

Popular posts from this blog

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Please see this post for current announcements of reopenings . Please consult the museum websites for changes in days and hours. UPDATED September 23, 2020 Advance tickets required for many museum reopenings. Please check museum websites for details. • The  Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  reopened to the public on  August 27 , with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  on Mondays for MoMA members on ly. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by UNIQLO. See this  new post on WOTBA for a sense of the experience attending the museum . •  New-York Historical Society  reopened on  August 14  with an outdoor exhibition, "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” in the rear courtyard. The exhibit by activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman will highlight how New Yorkers weathered the quarantine

Taking a Constitutional Walk

A long time ago individuals going out for a walk, especially to get fresh air and exercise, often referred to the activity as "taking a constitutional walk." The word "constitutional" refers to one's constitution or physical makeup, so a constitutional walk was considered beneficial to one's overall wellbeing. (Or, as some would prefer to call it, "wellness.") The phrase is more common in British literature than in American letters. As early as the mid-nineteenth century, many American commentators expressed concern that their countrymen were falling into lazy and unhealthy habits. Newspaper columnists and editorial writers urged their readers to take up the practice of the "constitutional" walk. One such essay, " Walking as an Exercise," originally printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and reprinted in New England Farmer , Volume 11, 1859, urges the people of farm areas to take up walking. City dwellers seemed to have the

25 Things to Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art

(updated) Sitting on the steps in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of those iconic things to do in New York City. On a sunny day, the wide steps can become crowded with the young and old, the tourist and the resident. It's tempting to stay awhile and soak in the sun and the sights. Everyone has reasons for lingering there, with one being the shared pleasure of people watching along this expansive stretch of Fifth Avenue, a painting come to life. Certainly, just getting off one's feet for a moment is welcome, especially if the previous hours involved walking through the entirety of art history from prehistoric to the contemporary. The entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue The Metropolitan Museum of Art should be a singular pilgrimage, uninterrupted by feeble attempts to take in more exhibitions along Museum Mile. Pity the poor visitor who tries "to do" multiple museum exhibitions in one day, albeit ambitious, noble, and uplift

25 Radical Things to Do in Greenwich Village

A list of 25 things to Do in Greenwich Village with history of protest, old cafes, and signs of change. Hipstamatic iPhone images of contemporary Greenwich Village by Walking Off the Big Apple (Revised and updated.) Flipping through  Greenwich Village: A Photographic Guide by Edmund T. Delaney and Charles Lockwood with photographs by George Roos, a second, revised edition published in 1976, it’s easy to compare the black and white images with the look of today’s neighborhood and see how much the Village has changed. A long shot photograph of Washington Square taken up high from an apartment north of the park, and with the looming two towers of the World Trade Center off to the distant south in the background, reveals a different landscape than what we would encounter today.    On the north side of the park, an empty lot and two small buildings have since given way to NYU’s Kimmel Center and a new NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Center Life. The Judson Memorial Church

The High Line and Chelsea Market: A Good Pairing for a Walk

(revised 2017) The advent of spring, with its signs of growth and rebirth, is apparent both on the High Line , where volunteers are cutting away the old growth to reveal fresh blooms, and inside the Chelsea Market, where new tenants are revitalizing the space. A walk to take in both can become an exploration of bounty and surprise, a sensual walk of adventure and sustenance. A good pairing for a walk: The High Line and Chelsea Market Walking the High Line for a round trip from Gansevoort to W. 30th and then back again adds up to a healthy 2-mile walk. Regular walkers of the elevated park look for an excuse to go there. Especially delightful is showing off the park, a model of its kind, to visitors from out of town. A stroll through Chelsea Market. Time check. If you haven't stopped into Chelsea Market lately, you may want to take a detour from the High Line at the stairs on W. 16th St. and walk through the market for a quick assessment or a sampling. Among the sampli

25 Things to Do Near the American Museum of Natural History

After visiting the American Museum of Natural History, explore attractions on the Upper West Side or in Central Park. Visitors to New York often run around from one major tourist site to the next, sometimes from one side of the city to the other, and in the process, exhaust themselves thoroughly. Ambitious itineraries often include something like coffee in the Village in the morning, lunch near MoMA, a couple of hours in the museum, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry in the afternoon, cocktails at the midtown hotel, a quick dinner, and then a Broadway show. It's a wonder people don't pass out at the theater. While sitting on the steps of the American Museum of History, consider exploring the Upper West Side and nearby sites of interest in Central Park. There's a better way to plan a New York trip. Consider grouping attractions together geographically. Several posts on this site address this recommended approach. The Wild West of the Tecumseh Playground Groupin

From Penn Station to New York Landmarks: Measuring Walking Distance and Time in Manhattan

(revised 2017) How long does it take to walk from Penn Station/Madison Square Garden to well-known destinations in Manhattan? What are the best walking routes ? What if I don't want to see anything in particular but just want to walk around? In addition to the thousands of working commuters from the surrounding area, especially from New Jersey and Long Island who arrive at Penn Station via New Jersey Transit or the Long Island Rail Road, many people arrive at the station just to spend time in The City. Some have questions. Furthermore, a sporting event may have brought you to Madison Square Garden (above Penn Station), and you want to check out what the city offers near the event. This post if for you.  The map below should help you measure walking distances and times from the station to well-known destinations in Manhattan - Bryant Park , the Metropolitan Museum of Art , the Empire State Building , Times Square , Rockefeller Center , Washington Square Park , the High Line

25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

(updated 2016) The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 11 W. 53rd Street is near many other New York City attractions, so before or after a trip to the museum, a short walk in any direction could easily take in additional experiences. Drawing a square on a map with the museum at the center, a shape bounded by 58th Street to the north and 48th Street to the south, with 7th Avenue to the west and Park Avenue to the east, proves the point of the area's cultural richness. (A map follows the list below.) While well-known sightseeing stops fall with these boundaries, most notably Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the great swath of famous Fifth Avenue stores, cultural visitors may also want to check out places such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, the 57th Street galleries, the Onassis Cultural Center, and the Municipal Art Society. The image above shows an intriguing glimpse of the tops of two Beaux-Arts buildings through an opening of the wall inside MoMA's scu

Places from The Bell Jar: Sylvia Plath's New York, and a Map

After her long night with her friend Doreen and Lenny the DJ, Esther Greenwood, the protagonist of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar , decides to walk back home to her hotel, the Amazon, and pulls a New York street map out of her pocket. Calculating she was "exactly forty-three blocks by five blocks away" from her hotel, she sets out on foot uptown. (p. 15 Bantam Windstone paperback edition, 1981) If the Amazon is based on the Barbizon Hotel at Lexington and 63rd, then her starting point could have been around 20th and 8th Avenue (or, even possibly, uptown on the Upper West Side). I don't think Plath intended this to be precisely autobiographical. A walk from the Village to anywhere around Lexington and 63rd would make a nice hike, probably in the neighborhood of 3.5 miles. In a real life incident from June of 1953, Plath tried to track down poet Dylan Thomas outside his favorite bar, probably the White Horse Tavern on Hudson (marked on the map), and she could have walke

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on East 52nd Street

"-S'il vous plaît… dessine-moi un mouton!" Like many others, I learned French in school by reading  Le Petit Prince,  the charming and thoughtful story written and illustrated by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. So I was delighted, even in a child-like way, to come upon a charmer of a building, 3 East 52nd Street, and to see on the exterior a plaque honoring the French author and aviator. According to Christopher Gray, in an April 2001 NYT Streetscapes article about the building , the organization La Section Americaine du Souvenir Francais put up this plaque memorializing Saint-Exupery. It's not where he lived, as I shall explain. During the early years of WWII, from January 1941 and April 1943, the writer lived much of the time in a penthouse at 240 Central Park South and in a rented mansion in the village of Asharoken on the north shore of Long Island. He also spent some time in Quebec City. He wrote The Little Prince in the Long Island mansion during the summer a