Andy Warhol

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In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.

Andy Warhol (6 August 192822 February 1987) was an American painter, filmmaker, publisher, actor and major figure in the Pop Art movement.


I think everybody should like everybody.
They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
  • In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.
    • Catalogue of an exhibition of his art in Stockholm, Sweden (1968)
    • This quotation has produced a common cliché about fame in pop-culture which is called "15 minutes of fame"; it has often been paraphrased or misquoted in various ways, including:
    In the future, everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes.
    In the future everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame
    • When asked about this quote, he would corrupt it intentionally, including:
    In the future, fifteen people will be famous.
    In fifteen minutes, everyone will be famous.
  • Andy Warhol: I think everybody should like everybody.
    Gene Swenson: Is that what Pop Art is all about?
    Andy Warhol: Yes, it's liking things.
    • "What Is Pop Art?" Art News, November 1963
  • It's the place where my prediction from the sixties finally came true: "In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes." I'm bored with that line. I never use it anymore. My new line is, "In fifteen minutes everybody will be famous."
    • Andy Warhol's Exposures (1979) commenting on the nightclub "Studio 54", and his world famous quote.

Electric chair quote[edit]

Warhol's electric chair quote (date not established) is found in many books with variations. The earliest and most reported version is:

  • You'd be surprised how many people want to hang an electric chair on their living-room wall. Specially if the background color matches the drapes.
    • As quoted in Moderna Museet (1968), Andy Warhol: Stockholm, Moderna Museet, February–March 1968 (exhib. cat.), Malmö: Sydsvenska Dagbladets, [ISBN]; repr. 1970, Boston: Boston Book and Art, [ISBN]
    • As quoted in Mike Wrenn (1991), Andy Warhol: In His Own Words, London & New York: Omnibus Press [Music Sales Group], ISBN 0-7119-2400-7 [ISBN 978-0-7119-2400-0]
    • As quoted in Isabel Kühl (2007), Andy Warhol: Living Art, Munich & New York: Prestel, ISBN 978-3-7913-3814-9 [ISBN 3-7913-3814-5]

Common variants include:

  • (You'd be surprised who'll hang an electric chair in the living room. Especially if the background matches the drapes.)

Additional variants with "curtains" for "drapes" came by way of French translations being re-translated back into English for bilingual books or exhibition notices:

  • (You wouldn't believe how many people will hang up a picture of an electric chair? especially if it matches the color of their curtains.)
  • (You wouldn't believe how many people will hang a picture of an electric chair in their room – especially if the color of the picture matches the curtains.)
  • (You wouldn't believe the number of people who hang the electric chair painting in the homes, especially if the colour of the canvas matches the curtains.)
    • As quoted in Marie Deparis (2009), "Mounir Fatmi: Gardons Espoir / Keeping Faith" (bilingual exhibition notice, as a retranslation from the French "On n'imagine pas le nombre de personnes qui accrocheraient chez elles le tableau de la chaise électrique, surtout si les coloris de la toile s'harmonisent avec les rideaux.")

The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (1975)[edit]

The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: (From A to B and Back Again) (1975) ISBN 978-0156717205
  • At the times in my life when I was feeling the most gregarious and looking for bosom friendships, I couldn't find any takers so that exactly when I was alone was when I felt the most like not being alone. The moment I decided I'd rather be alone and not have anyone telling me their problems, everybody I'd never even seen before in my life started running after me to tell me things I'd just decided I didn't think it was a good idea to hear about. As soon as I became a loner in my own mind, that's when I got what you might call a "following." As soon as you stop wanting something you get it. I've found that to be absolutely axiomatic.
    • Ch. 1: Puberty
  • During the 60s, I think, people forgot what emotions were supposed to be. And I don't think they've ever remembered. I think that once you see emotions from a certain angle you can never think of them as real again. That's what more or less has happened to me. I don't really know if I was ever capable of love, but after the 60s I never thought in terms of "love" again.
    • Ch. 1: Puberty
  • I don't see anything wrong with being alone, it feels great to me. People make a big thing about personal love. It doesn't have to be such a big thing. The same for living - people make a big thing about that too. But personal living and personal loving are the two things the Eastern-type wise men don't think about.
    • Ch. 3: Senility
  • I love every "lib" movement there is, because after the "lib" the things that were always a mystique become understandable and boring, and then nobody has to feel left out if they're not part of what is happening. For instance, single people looking for husbands and wives used to feel left out because the image marriage had in the old days was so wonderful. Jane Wyatt and Robert Young. Nick and Nora Charles. Ethel and Fred Mertz. Dagwood and Blondie.
    • Ch. 3: Senility
  • What I was actually trying to do in my early movies was show how people can meet other people and what they can do and what they can say to each other. That was the whole idea: two people getting acquainted. And then when you saw it and you saw the sheer simplicity of it, you learned what it was all about. Those movies showed you how some people act and react with other people. They were like actual sociological "For instance"s. They were like documentaries, and if you thought it could apply to you, it was an example, and if it didn't apply to you, at least it was a documentary, it could apply to somebody you knew and it could clear up some questions you had about them.
    • Ch. 3: Senility
  • I've never met a person I couldn't call a beauty.
    • Ch. 4: Beauty
  • I really don't care that much about "Beauties." What I really like are Talkers. To me, good talkers are beautiful because good talk is what I love. The word itself shows why I like Talkers better than Beauties, why I tape more than I film. It's not "talkies." Talkers are doing something. Beauties are being something. Which isn't necessarily bad, it's just that I don't know what it is they're being. It's more fun to be with people who are doing things.
    • Ch. 4: Beauty
  • When you're interested in somebody, and you think they might be interested in you, you should point out all your beauty problems and defects right away, rather than take a chance they won't notice them...On the other hand, say you have a purely temporary beauty problem—a new pimple, lackluster hair, no-sleep eyes, five extra pounds around the middle. Still, whatever it is, you should point it out...If you don't point out these things they might think that your temporary beauty problem is a permanent beauty problem...If they really do like you for yourself, they'll be willing to use their imagination to think of what you must look like without your temporary beauty problem.
    • Ch. 4: Beauty
  • In some circles where very heavy people think they have very heavy brains, words like "charming" and "clever" and "pretty" are all put-downs; all the lighter things in life, which are the most important things, are put down.
    • Ch. 4: Beauty
  • I know a girl who just looks at her face in the medicine cabinet mirror and never looks below her shoulders, and she's four or five hundred pounds but she doesn't see all that, she just sees a beautiful face and therefore she thinks she's a beauty. And therefore, I think she's a beauty, too, because I usually accept people on the basis of their self-images, because their self-images have more to do with the way they think than their objective-images do.
    • Ch. 4: Beauty
  • The most beautiful thing in Tokyo is McDonald's. The most beautiful thing in Stockholm is McDonald's. The most beautiful thing in Florence is McDonald's. Peking and Moscow don't have anything beautiful yet.
    • Ch. 4: Beauty
  • I'm confused about who the news belongs to. I always have it in my head that if your name's in the news, then the news should be paying you. Because it's your news and they're taking it and selling it as their product. But then they always say that they're helping you, and that's true too, but still, if people didn't give the news their news, and if everybody kept their news to themselves, the news wouldn't have any news. So I guess you should pay each other. But I haven't figured it out fully yet.
    • Ch. 5: Fame
  • Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there - I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. People sometimes say that the way things happen in the movies is unreal, but actually it's the way things happen to you in life that's unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it's like watching television - you don't feel anything. Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it's all television.
    • Ch. 6: Work
  • I suppose I have a really loose interpretation of "work" because I think that just being alive is so much work at something you don't always want to do. Being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery. People are working every minute. The machinery is always going. Even when you sleep.
    • Ch. 6: Work
  • After being alive, the next hardest work is having sex. Of course, for some people it isn't work because they need the exercise and they've got the energy for the sex and the sex gives them even more energy. Some people get energy from sex and some people lose energy from sex. I have found that it's too much work. But if you have the time for it, and if you need that exercise—then you should do it. But you could really save yourself a lot of trouble either way by first figuring out whether you're an energy-getter or an energy-loser. As I said, I'm an energy-loser. But I can understand it when I see people running around trying to get some.
    • Ch. 6: Work
  • I thought that young people had more problems than old people, and I hoped I could last until I was older so I wouldn't have all those problems. Then I looked around and saw that everybody who looked young had young problems and that everybody who looked old had old problems. The "old" problems to me looked easier to take than the "young" problems. So I decided to go gray so nobody would know now old I was and I would look younger to them than how old they thought I was. I would gain a lot by going gray: (1) I would have old problems, which were easier to take than young problems, (2) everyone would be impressed by how young I looked, and (3) I would be relieved of the responsibility of acting young—I could occasionally lapse into eccentricity or senility and no one would think anything of it because of my gray hair. When you've got gray hair, every move you make seems "young" and "spry," instead of just being normally active. It's like you're getting a new talent. So I dyed my hair gray when I was about twenty-three or twenty-four.
    • Ch. 6: Work
  • The President has so much good publicity potential that hasn't been exploited. He should just sit down one day and make a list of all the things that people are embarrassed to do that they shouldn't be embarrassed to do, and then do them all on television.
    • Ch. 6: Work
  • What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.
    • Ch. 6: Work
  • Sometimes you fantasize that people who are really up-there and rich and living it up have something you don't have, that their things must be better than your things because they have more money than you. But they drink the same Cokes and eat the same hot dogs and wear the same ILGWU clothes and see the same TV shows and the same movies. Rich people can't see a sillier version of Truth or Consequences, or a scarier version of The Exorcist. You can get just as revolted as they can—you can have the same nightmares. All of this is really American.
    • Ch. 6: Work
  • Sometimes you're invited to a big ball and for months you think about how glamorous and exciting it's going to be. Then you fly to Europe and you go to the ball and when you think back on it a couple of months later what you remember is maybe the car ride to the ball, you can't remember the ball at all. Sometimes the little times you don't think are anything while they're happening turn out to be what marks a whole period of your life. I should have been dreaming for months about the car ride to the ball and getting dressed for the car ride, and buying my ticket to Europe so I could take the car ride. Then, who knows, maybe I could have remembered the ball.
    • Ch. 7: Time
  • They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
    • Ch. 7: Time
  • Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, "So what." That's one of my favorite things to say. "So what." "My mother didn't love me." So what. "My husband won't ball me." So what. "I'm a success but I'm still alone." So what. I don't know how I made it through all the years before I learned how to do that trick. It took a long time for me to learn it, but once you do, you never forget.
    • Ch. 7: Time
  • I really do live for the future, because when I'm eating a box of candy, I can't wait to taste the last piece. I don't even taste any of the other pieces, I just want to finish and throw the box away and not have to have it on my mind any more. I would rather either have it now or know I'll never have it so I don't have to think about it. That's why some days I wish I were very very old-looking so I wouldn't have to think about getting old-looking.
    • Ch. 7: Time
  • I don't believe in it, because you're not around to know that it's happened. I can't say anything about it because I'm not prepared for it.
    • Ch. 8: Death
  • I really believe in empty spaces, although, as an artist, I make a lot of junk. Empty space is never-wasted space. Wasted space is any space that has art in it. An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have but that he, for some reason, thinks it would be a good idea to give them.
    • Ch. 10: Atmosphere
  • When I look at things, I always see the space they occupy. I always want the space to reappear, to make a comeback, because it's lost space when there's something in it. If I see a chair in a beautiful space, no matter how beautiful the chair is, it can never be as beautiful to me as the plain space.
    • Ch. 10: Atmosphere
  • Free countries are great, because you can actually sit in somebody else's space for a while and pretend you're a part of it. You can sit in the Plaza Hotel and you don't even have to live there. You can just sit and watch the people go by.
    • Ch. 10: Atmosphere

BBC interview (1981)[edit]

Interview with Edward Lucie Smith on BBC Radio 3 (17 March 1981)
  • Edward Smith: Would you like to see your pictures on as many walls as possible, then?
    Andy Warhol: Uh, no, I like them in closets.
  • Edward Smith: Why is it more of a pleasure to do 30 or 40 pictures than to do just one?
    Andy Warhol: Then I can, uh, listen to my soundabout which looks just like the thing that I'm wearing now, and you can listen to opera and stuff like that.
    Edward Smith: Does that mean you don't have to think when you're painting?
    Andy Warhol: No, you can listen to really good music.
    Edward Smith: So, what, painting is an excuse to listen to really good music?
    Andy Warhol: Oh, yeah.
  • Edward Smith: What do you think is the characteristic of a really nice person? Some people you obviously do like more than others.
    Andy Warhol: Ummm, well, if they talk a lot.
    Edward Smith: What, and don't make you talk?
    Andy Warhol: Yeah, yes, that's a really nice person.
    Edward Smith: Thank you, Andy.

Other quotes[edit]

  • Sex is nostalgia for sex.[1]

Quotes about Andy Warhol[edit]

  • Warhol's art can both subvert (up to a point) formal art and, at the same time, offer socially provocative documents to the ordinary, white, middle-class citizen. Blacks and the poor do not like Warhol's art or movies. Documents that are mainly intended as deliberate references to a predominant white culture cannot incite the imaginations of those who don't give a fuck for that culture in the first place, even if they did understand what it was all about. This inability of Warhol to reach blacks and the poor represents the weakest aspect of his art. Warhol's art implies a certain disgust on the part of the artist for culture — a disgust he shares in common with New Left revolutionaries and progressive activist artists and critics. His latest decision, to stop painting altogether, is a deliberate step in the direction away from culture itself. It is also an inevitable step, as the very notion of art works that possess a quality as items to be traded upon the New York art exchange is incompatible with the socialisation of art. Modern culture is a repressive, police agency. The police function of modern culture has been recognized by Warhol. His paintings of electric chairs, police attacks, most-wanted men, and car crashes all seem to reflect in art the reality of an official culture of repression rather than of life.
  • No director in human history has ever made or will ever make worse movies. Warhol makes Ed Wood look like Ingmar Bergman.
    • Dana Gioia, "Glass Appeal: Philip Glass's Film Scores," San Francisco Magazine (October 2002)
  • I'll give you an interesting analogy here. Have you ever read Carson McCullers' The Heart is a Lonely Hunter? All right. Now in that book you'll remember that this deaf mute, Mr. Singer, this person who doesn't communicate at all, is finally revealed in a subtle way to be a completely empty, heartless person. And yet because he's a deaf mute, he symbolises things to desperate people. They come to him and tell him all their troubles. They cling to him as a source of strength, as a kind of semi-religious figure in their lives. Andy is kind of like Mr. Singer. Desperate, lost people find their way to him, looking for some sort of salvation, and Andy sort of sits back like a deaf mute with very little to offer.
  • I think he (Andy Warhol, ed.) would be very interested in the moment that the Dalai Lama appears, being involved in such a kind of idea. Andy has always difficulties with this kind of political activities, because he works in another kind of world, but he is always.. ..Also when he was here (in Germany) last week, he is very interested to hear a lot of new information. He has a kind of observing sense in the back of his mind. So, he is always interested to follow the development, and there is really a kind of imaginative process going on, I think.
    • Joseph Beuys, in Joseph Beuys and the Dalai Lama; Interview with Louwrien Wijers, 1981 in: Kuoni (n.5), pp. 189; Republished in: Joseph Beuys, Carin Kuoni. Joseph Beuys in America: Energy Plan for the Western Man. New York, 1993

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