Art frequently calls upon symbols of our society to interrogate and refute universal subjects and themes like beauty, passion, morals and many others. Through these practices, our society’s symbols which get picked by the artist acquire a new mystical and historical dimension.
In 1965, the art critic Gillo Dorfles noticed that artists often considered their artworks as “immediately historical”, acquiring this « symbol status » as soon as it is complete.
Just like Andy Warhol’s Marylins and Campbell Soup cans ! He mythologized Marilyn Monroe as though she was Venus, and glorified Campbell’s Soup as though it was Christ and he were the disciple. He replaced our historical and religious symbols with contemporary ones that relate to modern society, and declared « supermarkets are like museums for me. ». Warhol stopped time to guide us towards a present that instantly becomes part of our history… Plus, he uses the « dignified tools of our society », namely mass production- and by doing that he glorifies and mythicizes our entire society.
Another artist followed a similar path: Jeff Koons. He mixed Andy Warhol’s social art and coupled it with Marcel Duchamp’s « ready-made » art. For example, he transformed folk trinkets into kitsch little sculpture made of the best (and coincidentally most expensive) technologies. He amplified and glorified the stereotypes of our modernity, and by doing so tainted them with irony.
After the 50’s-60’s individualistic esthetic with artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning or Robert Rauschenberg, a new generation of artists surfaces : Warhol, Lichtenstein, Koons- which claims a « collective aesthetic », which consists in turning the modern into the mythical.