In a previous week, I addressed the work of Ed Ruscha who took a series of photographs of deliberately no aesthetic value. Just prior to this work, Andy Warhol had held his first solo exhibition, which majored on his silkscreens of “ready-made” objects (Campbells soup cans etc). Included amongst these was his silkscreen of a diptych of Marilyn Monroe from a frame of one of her films. This work is iconic for a number of reasons but it is its relationship to the Ruscha that is of particular interest in the context of my project.
Whilst the Warhol opposes the Ruscha in that it has an aesthetic quality they are both trying to move beyond the conventional mode of creating an artistic image. In Warhol’s case, the move is made by using a found image not taken by the artist (in a photographic sense albeit it was taken in the sense of being appropriated from someone else’s creation).
Of course, the use of found images echoes Duchamp’s pioneering ready-mades some 50 years earlier. But the found photographic image re-emphasised the younger art-form’s ‘need’ to embrace post-modernism and escape form the prison of its representational role. The screen prints were of course not the only pieces in Warhol’s early oevre that contain the characteristics of a series: the plywood copies of Brillo boxes were also shown in multiple examples as part of their point of questioning the nature of art as against popular culture. Again they nod to Duchamp as of course they are not themselves ready-mades but representations of ready-mades.
Thus the strands in Warhol’s work that I wish to connect to with my single leaves photographs is the use of a series of found images of ready-made objects. The leaves themselves are found objects, ‘ready-made’ by nature with help from the horticultural industry.
Whilst the images of them are made fairly painstakingly by me, the artist, rather than found, the ‘objective’ style of the picture removes any presence of the artist from them. The objects are not icons of consumer culture but I intend them to do some of the same work by hinting at the death of nature under the relentless pursuit of pleasurable experience.
Matthew Greenburgh is an artist who focuses on still life work with strong aesthetic and symbolic components.