image of Warhol's Coca Cola bottles

Excerpt from "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol"

Published: November 20, 2019

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

In Europe the royalty and the aristocracy used to eat a lot better than the peasants—they weren’t eating the same things at all. It was either partridge or porridge, and each class stuck to its own food. But when Queen Elizabeth came here and President Eisenhower bought her a hot dog I’m sure he felt confident that she couldn’t have had delivered to Buckingham Palace a better hot dog than that one he bought for her for maybe twenty cents at the ballpark. Because there is no better hot dog than a ballpark hot dog. Not for a dollar, not for ten dollars, not for a hundred thousand dollars could she get a better hot dog. She could get one for twenty cents and so could anybody else.

image of Warhol's Marilyn Monroe Diptych

Sometimes you fantasize that people who are really up there and rich and living it up have something you don’t have, that their things must be better than your things because they have more money than you. But they drink the same Cokes and eat the same hot dogs and wear the same ILGWU clothes and see the same TV shows and the same movies. Rich people can’t see a sillier version of Truth or Consequences, or a scarier version of The Exorcist. You can get just as revolted as they can—you can have the same nightmares. All of this is really American.

The idea of America is so wonderful because the more equal something is, the more American it is. For instance, a lot of places give you special treatment when you’re famous, but that’s not really American. The other day something very American happened to me. I was going into an auction at Parke-Bernet and they wouldn’t let me in because I had my dog with me, so I had to wait in the lobby for the friend I was meeting there to tell him I’d been turned away. And while I was waiting in the lobby I signed autographs. It was a really American situation to be in.”

-Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), New York: Harcourt, 1975

The work of Andy Warhol is included in the Art Humanities syllabus.

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