I love Andy Warhol and I love the work of Andy Warhol. I love Andy Warhol with an exclusive and egoistic love. It is not respect nor admiration that I have for him and his work, it is love. Andy Warhol dared to say “yes”. Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys were my professors, even if I was not in their academies. Thanks to Andy Warhol I discovered the revolutionary work of Stuart Davis.
The first time I saw an artwork by Andy Warhol was in 1978 in the Kunsthaus Zurich. It was the painting “129 die in jet” painted in 1962. I felt included, immediately, included in the work of the artist, included in art. This was the first time in my life that art had an impact for me, the first time that I was directly in dialogue with an artwork. “129 die in jet” did change my life.
I understood that to enlarge, to make something big does not necessarily mean it is important. I understood that it means to be commited to something. And simultaneously, emptiness is created by this commitment and enlargement. Andy Warhol’s painting showed me that commitment and enlargement remove the meaning. He suggested another kind of meaning, a different meaning. I realized that art gives me the space to think.
Andy Warhol said “yes”, he agreed with the social and economic reality. Andy Warhol is the artist of agreement. To agree means to confront oneself with reality as it is. To agree is the condition for a possible acceptance or refusal of something. I understood that only if one agrees one can change something. Andy Warhol was courageous. He cooperated with reality in order to change it. Andy Warhol showed me that reality cannot be changed unless you agree with it.
Andy Warhol never deviated from his initial approach to art. I understood that art, only as art, can have a real importance, and that art, only as art, can have a political meaning. An exhibition of Andy Warhol’s early work in 1990 at the Fondation Cartier in Jouy-en-Josas showed me that his work is based on faithfulness to himself, from the begining until the end. Andy Warhol remained true to what he had been at the outset, he developed it, he repeated it, he industrialized it, he exaggerated it. In doing this, his work reached its formal strength and its political dimension.
With his work, Andy Warhol constantly defended with power the autonomy of art. I always think of what he once said: “Don’t cry – work !”
Thomas Hirschhorn, June 2004