Consuming the Arts: Postmodernism at Play

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Through observing the postmodern artworks of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych and Richard Hamilton’s What is it that makes todays homes so different, so appealing?, consumerisms hold on the nation is conveyed through symbolism and the inclusion of popular culture, reflective of the postwar shift experienced by the nation. Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych expresses a criticism of celebrity culture and Hollywood stardom, while Hamilton offers a view into how dominating the constant exposure to advertisements and drive for luxuries are in the day to day lives of the people.

The viewers see Monroe’s image from Warhol’s Marylin Diptych transform from a bright, uniform portrayal of the actress and model, to that of a smeared black and white set of images defamiliarizing delicate features of the famous Marilyn Monroe. Here, Warhol criticizes celebrity culture by contrasting images of Monroe’s public persona with her personal, more realistic identity. The super saturated colors of the left side of the image symbolize how she is seen through the public eye; the saturated block colors feeding into this false perception of Monroe as a popular product for purchase, eye catching and bright, akin to an advertisement, while ignoring the real person that exists behind the glamor of Hollywood and stardom.

On the right side of the diptych, the viewer is exposed to a different Monroe; one that neither the public, nor Warhol, have access to- her true self, the smears offer an image of humanity. This stark contrast between perception and reality in Marylin Diptych differs from that of Richard Hamilton’s What is it that makes todays homes so different, so appealing? by taking a stand on the strong personal case of looking at Marilyn Monroe as an individual and examining the decay and dehumanization of that individual, Warhol makes a statement against celebrity culture as Hollywood dehumanizes celebrities with each sale.

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The relationship between the consumer and the products they encounter, whether it be through media or through day to day actions, is prevalent in Richard Hamilton’s work What is it that makes todays homes so different, so appealing?. Unlike Warhol, who’s focus seems to be zeroing in on the treatment of a single individual to criticize popular demand and Hollywood stardom culture, Hamilton addresses the permeation of commercialism at a societal level through advertisements observed in daily life and activity. Looking at his piece, the viewer is exposed to different material objects, the tootsie-pop forefront in the image to the ham resting on the table, touching on the advertisements relating to basic human needs, such as sustenance and things we simply cannot live without. However, looking deeper into What is it that makes todays homes so different, so appealing?, Hamilton is challenging the viewer to see how deeply media and consumerism impacts the fundamentals of our lives and how people may be inclined to seek out a better life through materialistic gains.

The use of human models in prevalent in both Hamilton’s and Warhol’s art pieces. However, this similarity is irrelevant when compared due to the artists overall message communicated through their work. Looking at Hamilton’s What is it that makes todays homes so different, so appealing?, the viewer is exposed to a body builder and burlesque model depicted in the scene, emphasizing a turning point for what Americans found attractive; excessive strength and overt sexuality. While Hamilton’s models are important to the overall success of the image, they are not the true focus- unlike Warhol’s Marylin Diptych with its incessant repetition of a singular model and focus.

Conclusively, both art pieces capture the immense role that capitalism and commercialism played in the post war world. While Andy Warhol’s Marylin Diptych focused on the wickedness of celebrity culture and Hollywood stardom, Richard Hamilton’s What is it that makes todays homes so different, so appealing? explored the dominating effects of capitalism and advertisement on the public. These two contrasting themes express themselves fluidly and independently through subject matter and the overall critiques the artists had on the mass production of the postmodernity period.

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Consuming the Arts: Postmodernism at Play. (2022, Feb 27). Retrieved from

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