Author Archives: Farhad Mohammad Tehrani

Andy Warhol: Deeply Superficial



” I’d prefer to remain a mystery. I never like to give my background and, anyway, I make it all different all the time I’m asked. It’s not just that it’s part of my image not to tell everything, It’s just that I forget what I said the day before and I have to make it all up over and over again. I don’t think I have an image, anyway, favorable or unfavorable.” Andy Warhol

Reading through Andy’s life made me curious about his bewildering character, his deep superficiality, libidinous desire for fame and wealth, and why he was so obsessed to see his goals through the medium of painting. An unfortunate boy coming from an immigrant working class family who desperately seeking a promising future with all the insuperable barriers confronting him. Reading his past no one would have believed that someday that pale, pimply, poor creature would become the godfather of pop art movement in the early 1960s.

In the pursuit of his happiness, Andy Warhol found himself exactly on the right place where he could see his dreams come true. Just like Vienna which was the city of dreams for musicians in 18th and 19th century New York was the home of breakthrough creativity in the commercial arts industry.

It didn’t take too much for him to realize how to come up with something which hadn’t been done before. In doing so, he had recourse to his blotted line technique and silkscreen printing to establish his stature. Blotted line was a technique he discovered in his college days and latter on become his trade mark. One of his close friends Ted Carey commenting on how he discovered blotted line technique by accident. ” One day he was doing a drawing , and he just for some reason, blotted it, and he saw, when he took the blot off, this interesting line. And he thought that this would be an interesting technique.”


Andy had a flair for appropriating ideas from his close friends and cunningly turn it into his own credit. Its a funny analogy, but somehow he was like Robbin hood who used to rub the rich to feed the poor while Andy used to rub his friend from brilliant ideas to feed his own work. Ted Carey accounts on how Andy appropriated the idea of Dollar Bills form one of Ted’s friend Muriel. ” it was  during the late 1950s when Andy was striving to be recognized as a pop artist and desperately searching for ideas for appropriate subjects. I was with my friend Muriel who was financially desperate. And we went to see Andy. And so Andy said I’ve go to do something that really will have a lot of impact that will be different enough form Lichtenstein and Rosenquist, that will be very personal, that  won’t look like i’m doing exactly what they’re doing. And he said I don’t know what to do. So he said Muriel you’ve got fabulous ideas. Can’t you give me an idea? And, so Muriel said Yes, But she said its going to cost you money. So Andy said How much? So she said Fifty Dollar. She said, Get your checkbook and write me a check for fifty dollars. And Andy ran and got his checkbook and wrote out the check. He said all right give me a fabulous idea. And so Muriel said What do you like more than anything else in the world? So Andy said I don’t know. What? So she said Money. The thing that means more to you and that you like more than anything else in the world is money. You should paint pictures of money. And so Andy said Oh that’s wonderful. And she said you’ve got to find something that’s recognizable to almost everybody. Something you see everyday that everybody would recognize. Something like a can of Campbell’s Soup. So Andy said Oh that sounds fabulous.”









As a commercial artist Andy knew how to hit his target, like an alchemist he exhausted every material at his hand to create something unprecedented, something which captures every audience  and drive them mad , he was the author of an open ended story, made his readers to think and never giving them any philosophical description, leaving them by themselves to make the choice.

Andy was consciously aware of the society he was living with it, he intuitively knew where he need to point his finger at. He was always alert to new trends and social patterns, he constantly read magazines, newspapers, movie stars biographies and the gossip columns in the tabloids. Among his works on famous people the Golden Marilyn is the most striking one in which he brought back to life once again Marilyn Monroe’s glamour and beauty along with her mournful tragedy. And why he molded her picture into gold color, was he trying to signify that the gold color is the symbol of human idolatry (like the Golden Calf from Exodus Narrative) of ephemeral things or he just discover it accidentally like his blotted line technique. The answer is shrouded in mystery, no body knows for sure what was going on in Andy’s mind when he was making The Gold Marilyn since he would never shed light on his paintings.

Apart from Gold Marilyn implications, its fascinating to know how he got the inspiration and reshaped it in to his own advantage. First of all, the gold violates the sanctity of the monochrome field as established by such depressive practitioners as Ad Reinhardt. Further, Yves Klein, the French avant-gardist, had already performed this violation. His all gold paintings appeared in 1960, so Warhol broke the unwritten agreement by which an artist is granted sole rights to his innovation. Next, he has violated the nonobjective severity of monochrome with embedding a figurative image in it.

The Gold Marilyn

Yves Klein





Ad Reinhardt

Throughout his career Andy hes been harshly criticized and condemned as unfeeling , superficial, an artist who has built his career from the exploitation of other’s images and other people. Fredric Jameson a distinguished American literary critic compares Andy Warhol Diamond Dust Shoes with Vincent Van Gogh well known painting the Peasant Shoes in his book Postmodernism or the culture logic of late capitalism through which he posits that Andy Warhol’s work is in fact turns centrally around commodification, a new kind of flatness or depthlessness, a new kind of superficiality in the most literal sense. He also mention in his book that stars like Marilyn Monroe in Warhol human subjects are themselves commodified and transformed into their own images.

Thierry de Duve in his famous essay Andy Warhol or the machine perfected writes that Warhol desire to be famous is the desire to be nothing, nothing of the human, the interior, the profound, it is to want to be nothing but image, surface, a mirror for the fantasies and a magnet for the desires of other, an absolute narcissism. 

Andy Warhol Diamond Dust Shoes


Va Gogh Peasant Shoes








In spite of all the criticisms throwing at him, he would never actually take any further step to justify himself, he even never claimed any particular importance of any of his works. ” if you want to know all about Andy Warhol just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there i am. There is nothing behind it.” His modest assertion suggested there were no ulterior meaning, no hidden depth , no hint of anything that would indicate more significance. He repudiated the notion of artistic invention by copying grocery labels and cartons, thereby undermining some traditional notions about what constitutes originality in art. He negated the uniqueness of art objects by manufacturing identical paintings and sculptures in quantity. He even called his studio a Factory implying that he was primarily concerned with mass production and commerce and the business of making money. ” when Picasso died i read in a magazine that he had made four thousand masterpieces in his lifetime and i thought ‘Gee i would do that in a day’ You see. The way i do them with my technique, i really thought i could do four thousand in a day. And they would all be masterpieces because they’d all be the same.” Andy Warhol

the question remains: why he was posing himself as superficial, an unfeeling machine, copier, money minded, homosexual, a deadpan. Was he really mean it or feign it? Was there any hidden intentions deep down in his heart? As i mentioned earlier he is literally surrounded by all kinds of different comments and attributions about his life and art, yet nobody knows for sure  what was under the guise of Andy Warhol. His idiosyncratic is an unsolved riddle. But like other people who all commented on his life and work i would like to bring up my own point of view about him. Martin Irvine one of my distinguished professors in graduate school in Georgetown University which taught me a lot in his class once told me that “build up your own repertoire, get inside it and live with it, it doesn’t matter if the whole history of western thought is based on it,  its like learning how to learn” .

To me Andy Warhol is no less than the greatest artists of our time, he was the real prophet who wanted to mirror our everyday banality, superficiality, greediness, deepthlessness, fetishism with ephemeral objects. He was struggling to focus the light of art on all that ordinary life tries to obscure. Andy Warhol was an artist who was not embarrassed to face us with reality, his mission was to trumpet the truth through the medium of art ( Kennedy’s assassination, Electric Chair, race riot, Disaster series, Most wanted men). It reminds me of Baudrillard famous quote ” Welcome to the desert of the real” which i think Andy Warhol was the one who would accompany us to the desert of the real and showing us in details what is really happening behind the unreal glamour and the beauty of our world (Monroe’s tragic death).  Andy never liked to beat around the bush, he explicitly would say i need someone to jerk off in front of my camera and i like to see his face when he is coming or his famous blow job movie which indicates that he was not afraid of the hateful eyes of others looking at him and scolding him for being such a jerk.

In short, I think Andy’s resolute and unshakable faith in what he was doing eventually paved the way to his success. He profoundly knew that humans are trapped in the circle of repetition and unconsciously participating to its repetition. Repetition is the only elixir which possesses a magical power, a power through which constantly keep humans under false consciousness. Whats Repetition do is to continuously feeding its victims with strong sleeping pills to knock them out and to keep them under impotency. Comparing with Plato’s allegory of the cave repetition is something that keep the puppets and their shadows in motion, never allowing its audience to look over their shoulders and to see that the pictures are a dissimulation of reality. Finally, i would like to say that Andy Warhol was someone who once again tried to remind us through his artifact that we are living in a bondage, a bondage that repeats itself unremittingly in order to subjugate us.

” i like boring things, i like things to be exactly the same over and over again, i don’t want it to be essentially the same i want it to be exactly the same. Because the more you look at the same exact thing the more meaning goes away and the better and emptier you feel” Andy Warhol

Riot Race

Electric Chair

Woks Cited

  • Fredric, Jameson. Postmodernism or the cultural logic of late capitalism. 4th ed. USA: Duke university press, 1991. Print
  • Jean, Baudrillard. Selected Writings. 2nd ed. California: Stanford University press, 2001. print
  • Victor, Bockris. Warhol the biography. 2nd ed. USA: Da Capo press, 2003. print
  • Colin Maccabe, Mark Francis, and Peter Wollen, eds. Who is Andy Warhol?. London: St Edmundsbury press,  1977. Print
  • Patricks, Smith. Warhol Conversations about the artist. 2nd ed. London: UML research press. 19988. print
  • Peter, Kattenberg. Andy Warhol Priest “the last supper in small, medium, and large”. Brill: Koninklijke Brill Nv, 2001. Print
  • Steven, M.L Aroson. The philosophy of Andy Warhol. USA: A Harvest book. Print
  • Annette, Michelson. Andy Warhol. London: Massachusetts institution of Technology, 2001. Print
  • Ratcliff, Carter. Andy Warhol. New York: Cross River press, 1983. print
  • Thierry de, Duve. Andy Warhol or the Machine Perfected. Trans. Rosalind, Krauss. MIT press, 1989. 

Human body as a medium

For this week discussion i would like to elaborate on Peter Greenaway movie “The Pillow Book” in which to me set a very good example of hybridity and the use of human body as a medium for symbols. ” i am  certain that there are two things in life which are dependable the delights of the flesh and the delights of literature” Peter Greenaway

Basically, The Pillow Book movie is an appropriation from an ancient Japanese text which Peter Greenaway skillfully reshapes it into a powerful link between calligraphy, human flesh, poetry, and sexuality. Nigiko (the main character of the movie), uses each part of her body for the appropriated text, even writing on the ears and tongues and the words take on a kind of mystical and philosophical meaning.

“Blind eyes can not read”

Peter Greenaway inserts that Pillow Book movie is projecting the notion that if the body makes the text (art) then the best place for the text is back on the body. “the mind is influencing the arm and the arm is influencing the hand and the hand the pen and paper so its the body that make the text”. 

In short, i think now we are getting closer to an era in which the human body is becoming a paradigm that represents in itself the very image of our identities. Human body is becoming a powerful medium for showing our thoughts, feelings, sensations, likes and dislikes and finally as a symbolic vehicle.

Music hybridization in 1970s and 1980s


For our discussion i have chosen two songs from 1970s and 1908s Boney M, Ma baker and Billie Jean, Micheal Jackson. Boney M is a vocal group which was created by Frank Farian  and came into prominence by 1975 and achieved popularity during the disco era of 1970s. Basically,  the history of Ma baker song is coming from a Tunisian folkloric song which later has been rewrote by the band into a disco track. The song goes under the genre of Pop, Euro-pop, Disco.


A sample of Ma Baker specifically the chorus is quite clear in 2008 red one produced electropop international chart topper Poker Face by the American pop singer Lady Gaga. According to BBC Mum-mum-mum-mah hook used in the song is copied from Boney M, Ma Baker. Lady Gaga say about this ” I love Boney M so perhaps subconsciously it came out in the song”.

Indeed one of the 80s most distinguished songs is Billie Jean which is one the best selling singles worldwide. In 2008 the original version of Billie Jean was remixed by rapper and hip hop artist Kanye West the song was entitled Billie jean 2008. Some critics described the remix as “lifeless” and added that it sounded like West had “entered the studio fully intimidated by the genius of the original”.

To me, exceptionally Billie Jean is one of those songs which should not be remixed cause the original song is inexplicably flawless and nothing can touch this great song. West is kind of slowed it down which i think is killing the track. Finally, I do not think that artists who remixing such a great song are trying to make it sound better than the original one, but rather as paying a tribute to Micheal Jackson.

Sigur Ros use of remix

“if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” Issac Newton

We are now living in a society which everything is a remix, anybody can remix anything (Music, videos, Photos). In this essay i would like to focus on the works of Sigur Ros music band which i think serves as a good example for our discussion.

Sigur Ros are an Icelandic post rock band who have been active since 1994. They use guitar, vocals, Piano, keyboard, bass to create their music. Sigur Ros band have a great reputation for using classical and minimalist aesthetic elements in their music. It is incredible and overwhelming how Sigur Ros music can make you feel happy, sad, and very emotional.

To me, it is a hybrid form of music which i think we can’t specify it to any particular genre. They are taking apart various instruments and components and remixing them into something completely different. Their music is a remix of Ambient music, Post rock, Classical. they are one of the most unique bands i have ever run across. 


Graffiti Art in Iran



Graffiti has existed since ancient times through which humans used to carved on the walls with colas, chalks and sharp objects. Today these images help us to get a understanding into their lifestyles, languages and cultures.Graffiti in early modern times has became as a part of subculture that rebels used it against authority. In 1970 and early 1980 graffiti became a sort of social criticism, many social campaigns like feminists, anti consumerists, anti war, anarchist used it to render their massage.

Today graffiti ranges from humor, beauty, critique, irony, subversion, clever prank or it could be in a  hybrid form. Basically, graffiti is a certain kind of representation of visual culture or as a tool to spread the point of view of  individuals. One innovative form of graffiti that emerged in UK in the 1970s was devised by the Money Liberation Front. The use of paper currency as a medium for counterculture propaganda. For example, in 2009 following the election in Iran protesters began to deface paper currencies with slogans such as death to dictator, live long peace.

Today Tehran walls are the cite of competition between the massages of the government murals, graffiti artists, Green movement political activists, and pro government groups.While Iranian street art has been overwhelmingly dominated by state-sanctioned artists with the intention of indoctrinating the masses, the last decade has seen the rise of independent street artists with no connection to the state. Artists such as Icy and sot, Ghalam Dar, and A1one, have connected traditional Iranian visual culture with the motifs of global street art popularized by others. Additionally, these rising artists do not only provide an aesthetic backdrop to the concrete edifices of urban Iran, but talk back to power and use graphic means to address issues concerning Iranian society. ,  


Alienation from the subject



The transformation of work of art into commodities and turning the aesthetic value into exchange value are the marks of postmodern condition. Andy Warhol work in fact turns centrally around commodification of objects. According to Marx commodities are both artifacts and man made products. As artifacts they are the fruit of someones labor and as goods they allow someone else the enjoyment of this materialized labor.

Based on the Thierry de Duve and Rosalind Krauss essay modern artists resisted the domination of exchange value in three different ways. First, the attempt to put their practice in the service of utilitarianism whether social, economic or political and to tie their fate to capitalism. Secondly, completely denying its utility and retain from use value nothing but value. Thirdly, retain from the use value the use and not the value. In their argument Andy Warhol belongs to none of these three ways, indeed, he is facing them with rows of Campbell’ Soup Cans and registered what in any case they have already become. They are consumers and  the the painting is a commodity.

“I started out as a commercial artist and i want to end up as a business artist” Andy Warhol

The commodification of work of art compels us to the realization of a separation between man and nature which ends up in the alienation of man from the reality. Subject gives way to quotation, accumulation and repetition of already existing images. Therefore, a sense of flatness or depthlessness,a new kind of superficiality is the most evident feature to all postmodernism’s work of  art.



The rupture of artwork in postmodernism

“Raushenberg painting and Ruben’s Venus at her toilet truly involves the kind of transformation but in cannot be said that it evolved from Ruben’s picture or being continuous with it.” Steinber

Titian’s Venus of Urbino and Manet’s Olympia implicates that Manet duplicates a certain details of the original one in his painting.

In fact, we are witnessing a drastic change in artworks between modernism and postmodernism in which a huge tendency toward discontinuity and the lack of coherency in postmodernism artworks is noticeable.  “Many artists of postmodernism experiencing a rupture or disconcerting with the modernist past and if this is the scenario then we are indeed experiencing one of those cataclysmic ruptures in the epidemiological filed that Foucault describes a rupture as thorough as that which separates the age of classicism from the age of modernism” Douglas Crimp 

We are experiencing enormous disparity form originality in postmodernism which can bring up also here the ideas of Jean Baudrillard when he is saying the demise of originality in the late Twenty century.


Photography In the late capitalism


In this essay i would like to compare the two different genres in photography one in advertising images and the other in documentary one. First of all, i want to present Andy Warhol photography in late capitalism era and Martine Franck from the school of postwar photography.

Andy Warhol’s work of art in fact turns centrally around com-modification of objects. A flatness, depthlessness image which can be said a new kind of superficiality which is a common features in all postmodernism contexts. Commodification of objects for example in Marilyn Monroe who is com-modified and transformed into her own image.

Martine Frank was well known for her documentary style photography. ” Photography suits my curiousity about people and human situations”. She also described her works as firmly rooted in the tradition of French humanist documentary photography.

This is the photograph of a remote marginalized community (Tibetan Buddhist Monk)

Her style was to work outside the studio, to use a 35-millimeter Leica camera, and she preferred black-and-white film.


Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe 

There is something wrong with the world

“The desert of the real” Baudrillard 

What can be extracted from the Baudrillard phrase the desert of the real is that truth and meaning can not be found when we are constantly facing simulations. According to Baudrillard interpretation of simulacra and imitation , in imitation we can create a copy of something that does exist which means that a copy can be evaluated by comparing it to an original ( Titanic Movie)  while in simulacra the copy or simulation is the original (Avatar), therefore, the real truth and meaning is the simulation itself.

In Matrix movie (1999) two distinct reality coexist on the plant at the same time in which the two separate realities are meant to represent the duality between what is perceived as truth in our society in the form of simulation and what can truly be said is real. The truth according to Baudrillard is” the falsity of signs and images”.

Neo the main character in the Matrix movie has two distinct identities which neatly corresponds with the two realities he is subjected to. In his day to day life he is a program writer for a respectable software company and away from work he works in a subversive direction against the system as a computer hacker. The duality in Neo to rely on the system while at the same time working subconsciously to disrupt it suggest that there is an innate desire in the humane being  to unveil the simulation and finds out the truth.

According to Guy Debord mass media, TV, film, movies, advertising are chief vehicles of the modern system in order to keeping their citizens as consumers and constantly distract them from the reality. Moreover, the true meaning of originality has been vanished since the industrial revolution, mass production blurs the distinction between original and copy yet on the premodern period there was a clear distinction between original and copy.

Indeed, there is something wrong with the modern society, it contains so much artificial materials that we have become the prisoners to it. Based on the Walter Benjamin essay on the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction the aura of the work of art is missing in the age of modernity and mechanical reproduction. 

Copyright Laws Stifle Creativity


“Good arts copy, great arts steal” Picasso  

Laws are suppose to protect the rights of copyright holders not to stifle creativity. In our modern  era with the emerging of new technologies there is a strong need for reformation in some statute that seems obsolete in our time. 

Lawrence Lessing an American academic and political activist describes in one of his presentations that corruption is the root of all the problems we are facing today. ” its is the technology that has made artists different, and as we see what technology can do we need to recognize we can not kill the instinct the technology produce we can only criminalize it , we can not stop the new generation from using it we can only drive it underground, we can not make them passive we can make them pirates; weird time age of prohibition. So, we living constantly against the law and this realization is corrupting.”

He brought up a very recent compelling evidence for his argument a Poster by Shepard Fairey which is depicting Obama gazing at the sky with a Hope caption under the poster. Recently, Shepard has been criticized by Association Press for not asking for the permission of the works he used.

In my opinion, those who are in high places of authority are twisting the existing laws in a way to take advantage of them. A filthy way to extracting revenue out of innovative people. Law makers have to create new regulations that respect the concept of hybridity, remix as an art, and as a way of innovation not as a copy or something which has been stolen from others.



Matrix Appropriation


Matrix is one of the movies that we can mention as an example of appropriation.
in the movie there are numerous indications to mythology, religion, and philosophy.
For instance, The Plato’s allegory of the cave, or the religious conception about coming the savor of the world.

According to Plato’s theory of  forms, the true essence or definition of an object is not what we perceive with our senses, but rather the quality that makes it that object. Plato likened people who were uneducated in this theory to being chained in a cave. A fire glows behind them and they see the shadows of objects passing along the wall, but not the actual objects themselves. These people perceive the shadows as reality and thus do not know the true form of the objects, and therefore, are prisoners to this false perception of reality Moreover, there is cultural appropriation in Matrix move as well, the concept of martial arts which is coming from the chines culture and

The movie refers to many religious beliefs like Christine,  Islam,  Zoroastrian,  that at the end of the world a superman will come and save the world from misery.


File:The Matrix Poster.jpg

Comic books and its alteration over time

Farhad Tehrani

Comic books have been an integral part of American culture since the 1930s. They have both influenced our collective imagination and echoed the concerns of the eras in which they were published. This popular form of entertainment contains indicators of the changing interests of a substantial segment of the American population over time. Comic books show us our fantasies, dreams, and fears as interpreted by writers and artists. Particularly illuminating is the changing notion of heroes over the decades, from the Nazi-hunters of the WWII era to the jingoistic vigilantes of the 1980s. Comics’ interpretations of social issues and representations of particular groups have significant implications for understanding ideology and cultural history.

Today, just as the comic industry is facing its most difficult challenges from the Internet and other forms of youth-oriented media, comics are more culturally relevant than ever. Every few months, a new comic book adaptation hits the multiplexes; books about comics are popular reading material; and comics are receiving serious academic consideration from a variety of disciplines

The 1930s: Birth of a Medium

Comic books first achieved cultural prominence and significance at the height of the Great Depression. Though Comics aimed not only to boost morale, but to celebrate the “common man,” give voice to the voiceless, and confront the contradictions of Depression-era politics.

The 1940s: Superheroes Go to War

Superheroes’ fight for the forces of good held great popular appeal during World War II, a time when evil in the world seemed all too real. In the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, comics took on a retaliatory tone that reflected American hostility towards the Axis powers. Many comics during the early war years featured superheroes exacting violent revenge upon ethnic caricatures of Japanese or Nazi soldiers.

The 1970s: Socially Conscious Comics

The alternative comix movement, with its do-it-yourself aesthetic and its reflection of the sexual revolution and recreational drug use, was an important convergence of comics and culture in the 1970s. Other social movements of the times are reflected in these comic book covers, including an increase in the racial diversity of heroes. We see the emergence of the first black superheroes, whose comics are the printed equivalent of the era’s Blaxploitation films. Also, the popularity of Bruce Lee films in the ’70s spawned kung-fu comic titles: for the first time, Asians are portrayed in the comics in a heroic fashion.

The 1980s: Vigilante Heroism in an Age of Destruction

1980s comic books began to feature a new breed of crime-fighting superheroes who pursued their own brand of social justice with anarchic zeal, defying social convention, morality, and often the law. These “vigilante superheroes” saved the world from self-destruction in an era when real-life leaders struggled to address global terrorism, environmental devastation, and the threat of nuclear war. Comic books also became a medium for sophisticated cultural commentary.

The 1990s: Forging Ahead, Looking Back

As the Cold War ended, Americans were at least temporarily freed from the impending threat of “atomic Armageddon.” Now the country faced new concerns, including economic recession and violent global conflict. As the decade progressed, comic book authors began to examine the genre’s past as a means of illuminating its 21st-century future. Kingdom Come explored the role of comic books in American popular culture, drawing upon the legacy of the genre’s icons while driving the medium to a more sophisticated level. As the new “Mature Readers” labels proclaimed, these comics were not for kids