If Andy Warhol — the most famous artist of the 20th century — were alive today, he would make NFTs. The reasoning is simple: because for Warhol, business was art. So, I decided to do some digging and speak to Warhol experts to see if there is a case.
But Warhol was an artist who defies easy definitions, and not everyone was keen to explore the highly speculative nature of the hypothesis. Professor Golan Levin, professor of electronic art at Carnegie Mellon University, said he couldn’t help and instead suggested that I “ask a Warhol biographer or a psychic medium.”
Fair enough. So, I messaged Warhol’s renowned biographer, Blake Gopnik, author of Warhol.
And then I found a Warhol psychic.
Gopnik is an art critic and a regular contributor to The New York Times. He’s the author of Warhol, a definitive biography of the pop artist.
An internet search determined it was also possible to arrange a seance with Andy Warhol, as part of a Los Angeles tourist experience.
I put the seance on hold for later. I wouldn’t dare dispute the medium’s direct line to Warhol — my concern was the psychic might struggle to explain NFTs to Warhol.
Andy Warhol’s legacy is a nod to NFTs
Gopnik’s biography of Warhol seemed to posit that money was a means, but provocation was always Warhol’s end goal. Warhol enjoyed making money to fund all his creative pursuits, but he always sought to be provocative. So, NFTs – which can be both provocative and lucrative – seem like a medium he would’ve embraced.
For a start, Warhol’s later film and photographic works certainly became increasingly provocative, bordering on pornographic. The Warhol Diaries provide a fascinating insight into pre-woke times and Warhol’s artistic motivations in the 1980s.
Secondly, “what is art” and whether NFTs are art is not the right question. That’s a minefield. Colborn Bell, founder of the Crypto Museum of Modern Art, tells me — mostly, they’re not. “Out of the gate, a lot of NFTs aren’t art. They are really not.”
A key argument in favor of my pet theory is how Warhol immediately used a new artistic medium whenever available for commercial success.
And his work was also not considered art by much of the establishment — he was forced to embrace that reality. That’s a similar position to NFTs in popular culture today. Acclaimed collections from Fidenza call into question the very…