Ottawa
2 min

Pop Art for ransom

Torching Warhol

Dear Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board,

I just bought an original, limited-edition Andy Warhol lithograph titled “Marilyn,” plate-signed and pencil-numbered 1293/2400, published by the Carnegie Museum of Art in 1986, when Andy was still alive. I have decided to destroy the print, to burn this piece of Andy Warhol history. Marilyn’s bee-stung lips will become a kerosene kiss, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Well, actually, there is something you can do, but we’ll get to that later.

A few mornings ago, I woke up to a cup of coffee glinting with sun and mischief, the radio blaring the Rolling Stones and a blank, white wall staring at me. I stared back, and it struck me: I needed a Warhol. I dove into cyberspace and fought an eBay bidding war of epic mouse-clicking and finally saw the message, “You won this item.”
I came in my pyjamas.

So why am I now — just a few days later — planning to kill this wet dream and immolate Marilyn, instead of jumping into bed with her? Let me explain.

The de-gaying of Andy Warhol is nothing new. Even Andy did it. He wrote whole books on the topic by writing whole books excluding it. But it’s not the 1970s anymore. Yes, queers still get bashed in North America, but they can also buy dildos with their grandma.

Yet, since making my purchase, I’ve learned that Andy’s queerest and dearest works are still being suppressed from public viewing and critique. Why is his explicit gay art omitted from nearly every major retrospective of his work, leaving us only the homoerotic tongue in the poster triptych for the Fassbinder film Querelle? Why are there no drink coasters, calendars and umbrellas touting his Torsos, Sex Parts or Fellatio screenprints?

Dark, veiny cock sinking between butt cheeks. Furry ass depression shaded like the Eiffel Tower. Fist gripping nuts on coated record cover stock. Pubic thatch in reverse negative. Where have you been all my life?

I’m sure the Foundation sponsors every gay $500-a-plate fundraiser that hits Manhattan, though I’m not convinced you do much to keep this gay imagery in circulation.

This obscurity issue runs much deeper. I’ll bet there are graphic Warhol paintings that neither of us has seen — in the ’60s, The Factory was too busy hosting Quaalude parties to worry about proper archival procedures. Imagine what might lurk out there: napkin drawings of Marilyn eating out her one-night lover Joan Crawford, or even lipstick monsterpieces of Mick Jagger rimming Stevie Nicks!

The point is that I bought the wrong fucking print, and now that no-longer-blank wall of mine is a tribute to everything I hate about the Warhol legacy.

Let’s get to the negotiation.

I’ve been assured that the Andy Warhol Foundation has certified Marilyn 1293/2400. If you want to stop me from destroying it, then revoke its certification. Create a fake fake. Label it “denied,” thereby giving more cultural space to the cocks, balls and perineum fuzz that Andy loved so much.

In other words, you have to erase a little piece of Andy in order to better preserve him, to fulfill the Foundation’s very mission.

Twisted, isn’t it?

When chewing on this conundrum, bear in mind that if he’d lived into the digital age, you would’ve lost track of his work altogether. It’s easy to imagine him making uncertifiable e-reproductions of jpegs of screengrabs of prints of PDFs that he carried around on a memory stick.

Remember the final scene in the film Seven, when detective Brad Pitt must either spare the life of psychopath Kevin Spacey, who just beheaded Pitt’s pregnant wife, or kill him and play into his mind game? You now face an equally impossible choice.

Let the insomnia begin.

“Who said nights were for sleep?” said Marilyn Monroe.

Daniel will perform at WESTFEST on June 12, 12pm, on the Main Stage. westfest.ca