City Lights Q&A Series: 'The Life and Art of Andy Warhol'

John Patishnock
April 21, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Alumni Association's City Lights speakers will answer questions prior to each upcoming event in this six-part series that visits major metro areas.

The next conversation is with Sarah Rich, associate professor of art history.

Registration is available on the Alumni Association’s website, and more information on the remaining three City Lights events can be found on the Alumni Association’s events page.

Penn State Alumni Association: How does Andy Warhol fit into your overall research of art in the 1960s, and how did he impact art during that decade?
Sarah Rich: If you research the art of the 1960s, you have to be interested in Warhol. If you're not interested in Warhol, it'd be difficult for most of the 1960s to make sense, artistically. A lot of the times I'm publishing on abstract art made in the 1960s, but much of what I'm interested in is reproduction and mass media, consumer culture and abstract painting; and most of what I've come to understand, I’ve learned through Warhol. I don't publish on Warhol directly, but he informs virtually everything that I do, the questions I ask, the issues I'm interested in, etc.

Penn State Alumni Association: How influential is Warhol today?
Rich: He's wildly influential. I think there are very few contemporary artists working today who are not influenced by Warhol's example. You have to respond to Warhol in one way or another. You can contest him, but you can't ignore him. You can't proceed as if Warhol didn't happen. Most important artists working today have worked to deal with Warhol’s influence in some way. He's one of the most influential artists in the post-war period, no question.

Penn State Alumni Association: How did you become interested in this type of research, art of the 1960s?
Rich: I got interested in art because I like the types of questions it allows me to ask; and I think it's an interesting challenge when you're analyzing literature. You’re using text to write about something that's very foreign to text; you're writing about objects, and I like that added challenge. I just think it's a fabulously interesting time. It’s a watershed decade, and art in that decade is really interesting.

Penn State Alumni Association: How much does it help to have this discussion in The Andy Warhol Museum, where people can see his work?
Rich: For someone to have a Warhol painting or piece of art, they'd have to have bought it early, when it was affordable. I have to lecture in the absence of the objects, and one of the nice things about speaking at The Andy Warhol Museum, is I can walk through and show people what I'm talking about. There’s a lot that gets lost in talking about the size and texture of an object without seeing it in person. It’s a great luxury that I live within driving distance of The Andy Warhol Museum.

  • Sarah Rich photo

    Sarah Rich earned her doctorate at Yale and specializes in art of the Cold War era. She is a frequent contributor to Artforum, and has published scholarship in journals such as October, American Art, and the Oxford Art Journal. Her book about unintended intersections between abstract art and consumer culture in the 1960s will be published next year by the... Read more ›

    IMAGE: Penn State Alumni Association

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Last Updated May 13, 2015