Andy Warhol's great grandchildren

Warhol remembered through the inheritors of his pop art – the grandkids of the factory kids

Arts+Culture Top Ten
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JAMES FERRARO

Despite being one of the initial innovators in hypnagogic pop, this Bronx-born experimental musician-composer is best known for cramming his 2011 Far Side Virtual album full of pop culture references and effects: advertisements, ringtones, iPads, and Nintendo Wiis. Ferraro once said it sounded best coming out of an iPhone speaker, while adding that the smooth easy-listening tracks were the most nihilistic music he’d ever made. The single of his upcoming conceptual album, NYC, Hell 3:00 AM, apparently includes vulnerable vocals—followed of course by an unsettling police radio report and heavy drone that certainly sounds like hell, or New York at 3 AM. 

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RYAN TRECARTIN

We don’t act inside or outside of consumer culture, entertainment, or art culture, we consume and translate, we’re a by-product of it.”

In a Factory-inspired gesture. each of Trecartin’s unorthodox art shows is just as much a social experiment and theatrical production. Trecartin invites his friends to actively participate in his creative process, to respond and contribute their own input and artwork. Through this unorthodox way of working, Trecartin’s work becomes an uncanny reflection of youth culture, presenting a Gen Y zeitgeist of commodified spontaneity, spiritual nihilism, and community value. For example, his film, A Family Finds Entertainment (2004), is a camp extravaganza of epic proportion starring Trecartin’s family and friends in a plethora of outrageous roles. His figurative sculptures read like TV sitcom characters gone terribly awry, casualties of media overindulgence. Its also no coincidence that Trecartin displays a casual approach to image making in which chance has its role, and mistakes and unintentional marks are welcome.

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JAMES FRANCO

In which aesthetic field hasn’t Franco exploited his proverbial 15-minutes of Warholian fame? And is it the real Franco or a fake? As Franco “plays” an actor, director, screenwriter, producer, teacher, author, and (gulp) artist in his self-scripted biopic, there’s seems no end to this creative celebrity’s intersection between art and life. His latest multimedia installation at Soho’s Pace Gallery consists of a series of Psycho footage and photos in which he gives a tongue-in-cheek performance as Hitchcock’s blonde victim. Just as Warhol once played himself in the film Cocaine Cowboys, Franco goes one step further in a double-play on his “performance” as James Franco playing Janet Leigh.

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BOBBY ABLEY

Whether with a Mickey Mouse Gimp Mask, Speech bubble prints, or a teddy bear logo, this London bad-boy designer continues to embrace and celebrate the kitschy, quick, and commercial over other more conventionally highbrow forms of art. As evidenced with his last collection, Abley continues to take his deliberately superficial fashion cues from personal obsessions and fantasies inspired by Disneyland (aka The Tragic Kingdom). 

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MANNY 404

Just as Warhol captured the zeitgeist of the American 60s and 70s, so Manny 404 aptly mirrors the interaction between art, consumerism, and the internet today. As Warhol himself once put it: "Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art." Similiarly, the man behind Art 404 fully embraces the cheap commercialization and global accessibility of art as evidenced by his website, which opens with a flourish of Apple, Nike, and AT&T icons. 

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FATIMA AL QADIRI

Electronic music and video games are usually regarded as entertainment, instead of tools to evoke war's horror. And yet, by melding the sounds of both, its precisely the kind of Warhol-inspired media-manipulated statement that Brooklyn-based musician Al Qadiri is interested in. As Warhol noted with the similiar rise of TV-based culture, we envisage war, as well as ourselves, as "virtual reality." Increasingly, our day-to-day experience of conflict is one of unreality, a spectacle of 24-hour rolling news and gun-rattling Call of Duty multiplayer marathons. So which “reality” is more real? Even after being shot, Warhol remained adamant about his worldview: "Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there—I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it's the way things happen in life that's unreal…Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it's all television."

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CASEY JANE ELLISON

Whereas Warhol’s generation was once endlessly obsessed with sex symbols like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, Casey Jane Ellison's animations, videos, and YouTube channel are the byproducts of a inward-turned self-obsessed youth culture in constant need-greed for instant gratification. Ellison’s most recent project, IT'S SO IMPORTANT TO SEEM WONDERFUL, depicts a computer model of her face and body performing one of her stand-up comedy routines in a vacuum, sans laugh track. Displaced, disclosed, and exposed, Ellison aspires to be “wonderful,” just as the endlessly approval-seeking contestants of popular reality and talent shows. But she chooses to do so via a pure virtual objectification of her self and body, ideas, and lifestyle—all her insecurities readily available for mass consumption and judgement. 

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MARIJE VOGELZANG

"You put my designs inside your body." 

Moved by the power of food as a basis for boundary-pushing design, Vogelzang has elevated it into an improvised performance and hand-crafted social play not so far from Andy’s Factory collabs. Inspired by the origin of food preparation and etiquette, Vogelzang's aim is to highlight food's historical, social, and political context as well as its greater significance: its power to shape an experience, to tell a story, and evoke strong memories and emotions.

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KATIE STECIW

Kate Steciw's work places her in a different category than the countless other digital media manipulators at work today. Her photography and sculptural installations investigate the gap between objects in everyday physical reality and their two-dimensional representations on the Internet. Desire, or perhaps a kind of capitalist greed—played out in the networks of commerce, and once embodied by a symbol as oddly simple as Warhol’s soupcans—is at the core of her practice. Intensely hued stock photography and scads of inexpensive Internet purchases are transformed into sleek, voluptuous wall-hung assemblages that attest to the manic saturation of online consumer society.

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JACOB MALLINSON

Flaunting his queer identity as freely as Warhol did himself (before it was socially acceptable) Mallinson gender-confuses public and private personas: on-stage as the fabulous Dinah Luxe, and in front of the camera as a top “male” fashion model. Although its now widely-accepted that ‘femininity’ is a construct, I’m sure Warhol and his coterie of gorgeous drag queen co-stars would admit that their get-up wasn't all show and rebellion, but because girls just want to have fun—and they probably do.  

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