acrylic on canvas
50 x 66 x 1 1/4 in. (127 x 167.6 x 3.2 cm.)
The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh
Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
from mandatory chaos
So. . .
You just watched Andy Warhol eat a hamburger. Maybe you're wondering what it's all about. It seems simple enough, just Andy in a green room munching his lunch, but he's famous. Maybe in this case, he does something interesting.
So you watch as he opens the bag, pulls out the burger and unwraps it. No fries. The burger could be from anywhere.
He dabs ketchup on the side and dips the burger into the ketchup instead of laying it on top, even though he pulled off the top bun. What?
Now you're curious, is he gonna do anything more? So for the next three minutes as he chews and chews, you're mind is racing. You're wondering, what the hell is Andy Warhol thinking? He stares off into the middle-distance, chomp-chomping away and he doesn't look bored or happy or sad or even hungry. He is the epitome of emotionlessness.
Suspense builds in your head like a pot boiling over. You're still trying to figure this out. He pulls the hamburger apart and doesn't even finish it! What the hell? He wraps the mess back up and stows it back in the sack, sets it aside, then twiddles his thumbs. He looks lost, glancing around, nearly paranoid, and his mouth is half open, like he's gonna say something.
Now the suspense is killing you! Is he gonna explain this all away? Is he? He opens his mouth . . . and closes it. . . and opens it again! He does this for nearly a minute!
And it's the longest minute of your life. Longer than that moment you almost drowned. Longer than that moment you were fired for stealing from your job. Longer than the minute you first inhaled.
Suddenly! It zooms in on Andy's face and he says,
"Um, my name is Andy Warhol and uh, I just finished eating a uh, hamburger."
That's it. It's perfect.
It bars no explanation. It needs none. But for those of you confused, or unsatisfied, think of it this way:
It's either the greatest joke ever told or a masterpiece of the simplest things in life. Perhaps it's something sexual.
But I think Andy is mocking his own celebrity status. Of all the artists in history, Andy Warhol is probably the only artist more well-known than his art. And his art is simple, commonplace objects turned upside down. By videotaping an act so simple that no one values, Andy is saying, why does anyone value me?
It's the most self-loathing, despairing video I have probably ever seen. And I hope you understand it like I do, because it truly is great.