"I think the artists who aren't very good should become like everybody else so that people would like things that aren't very good. It's already happening."
— Andy Warhol
This week I got back into the MOOC swing, after a couple months' hiatus, with a course on Andy Warhol. The course is structured around the major themes that framed his life and art. After providing a brief introduction to pop art, the focus of week one is celebrity, and touched on topics such as the star system and the appropriation of images in the media. (I'll have more to say about this course in the weeks to come; as well, I'm set to see a Warhol exhibit at the museum this weekend.)
So it's an interesting coincidence that every morning on my way to work I pass through what is currently a portrait gallery of artists as children, and one of those children is Andy Warhol. The exhibit is Voix d'ailleurs, by Quebec artist Louis Boudreault. Already the course material has given me a new perspective on this collection.
Taken individually, the paintings are fairly nondescript, in a neutral palette, and subjects that are almost expressionless. As a collection, however, they fare somewhat better — to stand amid child-Picasso, child-Pollock, child-Kandinsky, child-Disney does in fact give pause for thought about the seeds of greatness.
These portraits recently replaced another set of Quebec icons as children, among them such greats as Maurice Richard and Emile Nelligan. Frankly, the Quebec set was more interesting, with a hairstyle or the turn of a collar readily evoking a different time and place. The collection of artists, on the other hand, has a bland uniformity, as if all art springs from the same place. To me this indicates that Boudreault is closer to his Quebec roots than to the artist community, perhaps a better Quebecker than he is an artist.
I think a lot my current self was present in my childhood self. What do you think: can you look at a child and see what they will become?