Andy Warhol & Chaos Magick

Turquoise Marilyn (1964)

I think of groups like The Partridge Family Temple or the Church of the SubGenius as representatives of Chaos Magick. They form a personal, idiosyncratic religious pantheon out of pop culture refuse that unites the profane and the sacred. This practice reminds me of Warhol. He took mass produced, disposable images and gave them the religious treatment. Warhol created pop Byzantine icons. They presented an unapologetically 2-dimensional space. The Byzantine icon doesn’t exist in earthly time. It depicts a timeless realm. The background is not terrestrial, but a golden eternal space not of this world. Warhol took the most debased, almost tabloid images and treated them as something sacred. Applying religious techniques, this kind of votive art, to pop garbage. You might call it post-modern in its break down of the distinction between high and low culture. We call it alchemy. We must remember that the gap between high and low culture was much greater in the early 60s. So to do this sort of thing was controversial – blasphemous, even. It was the kind of irreverent maneuver that called into question the very nature of art and wound up expanding our definition of it. So we can point to Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe as an example of Chaos Magick…

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