Andy Warhol Napkin Drawing, ca. 1983
Andy Warhol (1928 - 1987) is perhaps the most famous pop artist of the 20th century.
(Photo © David Lefranc/Kipa/Corbis.)
Is this art? ... Why or why not?
(Photo © iStock.com/LPETTET.)
Can you imagine a doodle on a food-stained napkin being worth $30,000? It all depends on who created the sketch. In this ANTIQUES ROADSHOW video, the owner of a sketch of three butterflies explains that he received the drawing as collateral for a loan to an artist. The artist told him that the sketch had been drawn by Andy Warhol, one of the most famous artists of the late 20th century. Often described as "the father of pop art("Pop" comes from "popular.") Artwork that tends to use common everyday items as its subject.," Warhol is best known for his brightly colored screen prints and large paintings, including depictions of Campbell's soup cans and celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy.
The appraiserAn expert who assesses the value, quality, and authenticity of works of art or other objects. urged the owner of the napkin to have the sketch authenticated. She predicted that the napkin would be deemed a genuine Warhol.
A Closer Look
- What is depicted on the napkin shown in the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW video? Under what circumstances and by whom was it drawn?
- How did the owner acquire the napkin? What is collateralAcceptable security for a loan, favor, or service.?
- Given the interest in this napkin, what can you conclude about Andy Warhol's place in American modern art? Can you think of a current-day celebrity or artist whose autograph or doodling might be worth thousands of dollars in 20 years? What do you think would make this person's sketches or autograph particularly valuable to collectors in the future?
- What is authenticationThe process of verifying the identity of an object and certifying that it is genuine (i.e., that it is what it seems to be).? Why does the appraiser urge the owner to have the napkin authenticated? According to the appraiser, how would the napkin's value change in the event that it is deemed authentic?
- In your opinion, can a drawing sketched casually on a used napkin qualify as art? Why or why not?
Activities and Investigations
- Read the article about this piece entitled "A Real Andy Warhol?" on this site. Briefly summarize the story and share your reactions in writing or discussion. Before you got to the end of the article, did you think the napkin was authentic? Why or why not?
- Find out more about Andy Warhol and his impact on the art world. What are the definitions of pop art and pop culture("Pop" comes from "popular.") Mainstream, or widespread, features and trends that tend to define a society at any given time, including such things as language, fashion, entertainment, literature, and music.? What are some of Warhol's most famous pieces of pop art? Do research to find out what the highest-selling Warhol work is.
- Identify or imagine another mode of expression (for example, graffiti, industrial design, street art) that is not traditionally recognized as art. Defend its position as art — or explain why you think this medium does or does not quality as art.
- Critics have praised Andy Warhol for using art as a vehicle for expressing social commentary. Choose a 21st-century artist who has continued this tradition. (Some suggestions include Diego Rivera, Jacob Lawrence, and Ben Shahn. Note that you may want to review the artist's work first to determine appropriateness for your class.) Learn more about this artist, and present your findings to the class. Consider the artist's biography, medium, materials, and work for which he or she is best known. What pieces best convey this artist's commentary on society? Share them with classmates. What point of view is the artist expressing? What is your reaction to this message?
For Further Exploration
Warhol-Signed Soup Can: Art or Memento?
NPR radio piece in which a reporter sets out to determine the value of a soup can signed by Andy Warhol and given to her father 30 years ago.
The Andy Warhol Museum
The museum features extensive permanent collections of Warhol's art and archivesA place where public records or other materials are organized and stored., along with online projects and resources about contemporary art and popular culture.
Features film clips, background essays, a time line, and other information on Andy Warhol's life and work.
Andy Warhol: Prince of Pop
by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan (Delacorte Press, 2004)
Discusses Andy Warhol's life and career as an artist.
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