(Andy Warhol: Oxidation Painting, 1978, via The Warhol)
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
Sometimes it's can be hilarious when an academic gets seized up with a touch of prudery if faced with a somewhat transgressive truth.
MoCA Los Angeles is having a show of Andy Warhol epic "Shadows" series. In the introduction to the show, curator Bennett Simpson compares the series to Warhol's other abstract work, which brings us to his "Oxidation" series (see above). Here's how Simpson describes these paintings:
The series formalized earlier explorations with abstraction, seen the previous year in the Oxidation, Rorschach, and Camouflage paintings. In contrast to the Oxidation or Piss paintings, achieved through a process of staining in which a canvas coated in copper reacted to the acidity of urine spilled or dripped on it, the Shadows panels are silkscreened canvases.
"Urine spilled or dripped on it." Mr. Simpson! The Oxidation paintings didn't have urine "spilled or dripped" on them! They were pissed on. Warhol talked enthusiastically about the process in his diary, even pronouncing his preference for Halston assistant Victor Hugo's pee. The Warhol Museum hardly shies away from this hilarious process, even including this description in their guide for children:
Warhol invited friends and acquaintances to urinate onto a canvas covered in metallic paint in order to cause oxidation. The uric acid reacted with the copper in the paint, removing components of the pure metal to form mineral salts. Some colors developed immediately while others like blue and green formed later on top of the red or brown copper oxides. Warhol and his collaborators experimented with both pattern and coloration by using a variety of metallic background paints and by varying the maker’s fluid and food intake.
Kudos to The Warhol for their matter-of-fact presentation of the process. Ha ha, kids probably think it's hilarious!
So what's MoCA so shy about?