March 8, 2016

Little Thoughts on Art: What Does It Mean?

They were a couple, traveling to Berlin for the first time. “Where are you from?” I asked, although that’s a question I hate myself. "Israel," so they told me, and yes, they knew about contemporary art. They had a few questions starting with Andy Warhol and that’s where they took me first, rather then the other way around, me taking them around. “Why,” he asked me while pointing his finger at Andy Warhol’s huge Mao silkscreen painting, “is this Korean dictator hanging at the museum?” “He’s Chinese,” I said. That annoyed him but he still managed to make his point: “Why is this Chinese dictator shown here?” “It’s art,” I explained. Then they took me to Cy Twombly where they immediately interrupted my little speech: “What does it mean?” “It’s art,” I replied, “it’s not about meaning.” They got visibly more and more dissatisfied and the last drop came when we arrived at the exhibition of art made, confiscated, or sold between 1933 and 1945: “Why is Hitler’s portrait shown in the exhibition?” “Imagine,” they told me, “that there would be a big poster on the museum’s facade with Hitler’s portrait on.” “But there isn’t!” I said, bewildered.  

Warhol in Beijing in 1982, imitating the dragon's smile at the Forbidden City. Photo Christopher Makos
Warhol in his hotel mimicking the Tai Chi movements he saw in China. Photo: Christopher Makos

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