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The Andy Monument:

by Emily Nathan
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The sleepy eyed passers-by who stopped at the small pedestrian outcropping on 17th and Broadway this morning were befuddled. There was something going on there: this was for certain, as indicated by a number of journalists toting cameras and notepads gathering expectantly around a tall, mysterious object wrapped in silver cloth. It wasn’t until 11:05 am sharp that the auspicious moment’s star -- the artist Rob Pruitt -- stepped forward out of the crowd in a stylish pair of suede Clarks and a black sports coat and announced his delight at unveiling his first public work: The Andy Monument.

With a quick whoosh, the structure was uncovered, and there, glinting in the sun, stood a 10-foot tall, chrome-plated, “post-masterpiece” Andy Warhol, Polaroid camera slung casually around his neck and Bloomingdale Medium Brown Bag dangling from his hand. Commissioned by the Public Art Fund, Pruitt’s fiberglass sculpture -- which he created by digitally scanning the figure of his friend, Cincinnati art collector Andy Stillpass, whom he felt shared a body type with the late, lanky celeb -- is on view at that busy intersection through October 2, 2011. A blinding vision in silver, the Pop artist now presides once again over the Decker building at 33 Union Square West, which in 1968 housed one of the many iterations of his iconic Factory. (It is also the very spot in which radical feminist Valerie Solanas tried to murder him that same year.) 

Seeking to create a public work that would convey a “sense of necessity,” Pruitt drew upon his experience as a young gay teenager living in the suburbs of Washington D.C. who idolized Warhol as an icon of creative potential and success. Why the chrome? Pruitt alludes to the aluminum-foil lined walls of the artist’s Factory, adding his pleasure at discovering the material’s tendency to disregard detail and thereby illuminate the “quintessence” of the man (while conveniently disguising imperfections in his own sculpting ability).

Warhol once expressed that he envisioned deceased friends and lovers not as eternally departed but rather on a “run” to Bloomie’s -- that heaven of all heavens. The icon is back, it seems, à la 1977:  shiny as ever, decked out in his Levi 501s, and equipped as per usual with a paper bag full of Interview Magazines. Perhaps he never really left us, after all.

EMILY NATHAN is assistant editor at Artnet Magazine. She can be reached at Send Email