Andy Warhol's Forever Bicycles: An Analysis

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We live in the age of Instagram, social media and smart phones. Every hour countless terabytes of images and information churn through the ether of the Internet, gobbled up and discarded as quickly as it is generated; an unending torrent of selfies, likes, tweets and hashtags. The notion that this superficial medium of the zeitgeist might share some profound resonance with one of the 20th-century’s most iconic artists sounds unlikely. But you need only look as far as Andy Warhol’s celebrity Polaroids from the late 1950s up until his death in 1987 to see a familiar connection to the present day’s most prolific form of expression. The biggest stars of the era – A-listers like Diana Ross, Grace Jones, Mick Jagger, John Lennon and Yoko Ono – are…show more content…
In contrast, Ai’s activism is more conspicuous, against Human Rights issues in China, which saw him incarcerated without charge for 81 days in 2011 by the Chinese government. However, even Ai has acknowledged the allegory between his politics and the artistic tradition to which he is linked, saying, “Duchamp had the bicycle wheel, Warhol had the image of Mao. I have a totalitarian regime: that is my readymade.” Ai’s words, likening his dogged opposition of the Chinese government to Warhol’s screenprints of the communist revolutionary leader, throws a different light on the public perception of Warhol’s ultra-famous work, Delany believes. “Ai Weiwei’s work engages with some profound notions of the individual and the State, modernity and tradition. But people often think of Warhol as being superficial, flippant, all about celebrity,” Delany says. “Just look at the iconography of Warhol’s work: the electric chair; race riots; guns; his death and disaster series; the most wanted man; the notions of glamorised American culture. This is an artist who is using really important historical moments. In my opinion, he is arguably one of the greatest history

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