Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol!

Self portrait, 1978 (http://www.warhol.org/)

“I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They’re beautiful. Everybody’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.” – Andy Warhol

If Andy Warhol loved the plasticity of Los Angeles in the ’70s and ’80s, he’d flip for modern-day L.A.

Warhol, who passed away in 1987, would have celebrated his 84th birthday today. And while celebrity has proven more fleeting since the pop artist’s heyday – his prophetic quote about each person’s 15 minutes of fame gets more relevant with every tabloid headline and reality show premiere – it’s difficult to imagine Warhol’s artwork boasting the same timeless aura were it created in the Hollywood of today.

Just picture “Eight Biebers” instead of Elvises or Marilyn Monroe’s multi-coloured smile replaced with any number of Kardashians. Perhaps Kim Jong Il or Vladimir Putin would get the silkscreen treatment in lieu of Mao, and you could almost surely forget the Campbell’s soup cans. After all, an iPhone or non-fat soy beverage is so much more apropos in 2012. The yellow banana, his iconic album cover image, would have to be certified organic, but we hope Warhol could resist the temptation to filter his self-portraits through Instagram.

Still, even in 2012, Warhol manages to challenge social taboos. Earlier this year, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, Iran, hosted a showcase called Pop Art & Op Art, featuring work from Warhol and artists such as David Hockney, Richard Hamilton and others. For many of the works, which make up part of a larger collection amassed by exiled Iranian queen Farah Pahlavi before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, it was the first time they’ve been shown publicly due to strict Iranian censorship rules.

Two years before his death, Warhol wrote, in his book America, “I never understood why when you died, you didn’t just vanish, everything could just keep going on the way it was only you just wouldn’t be there.”

A fair question but, as is often the case, art outlives the artist. Happy birthday Andy, and congratulations – your 15 minutes is going on 60 years.

-Mike Crisolago