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Fuck You: from the Liz Taylor Series (Cleopatra). Acrylic, composition leaf on canvas. 72 × 48 inches, 1984. 223 REPRINTS AVAILABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE PUBLISHERS. PHOTOCOPYING PERMITTED BY LICENSE ONLY© BERG 2008 PRINTED IN THE UK CULTURAL POLITICS VOLUME 4, ISSUE 2 PP 222–230 CULTURAL POLITICS DOI 10.2752/175174308X310910 FIELD REPORT FAMOUS FOR FIFTEEN SECONDS KATHE BURKHART In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes. Andy Warhol When I first began making the Liz Taylor Series of paintings in 1982 as a graduate student at CalArts, the world was quite a different place. People loved stars then, of course (they always have and always will); but the desire to become one,for most,remained mostly in the realm of fantasy and projection. There was no celebrity culture per se – no RealWorld full of American Idols, Apprentices, Big Brothers, Survivors, Bachelors, Extreme Makeovers, Fear Factors, Rich Girls, Trailer Park Boys, Art Stars, or Iconoclasts – that according to the commercials will “change the way you see celebrity.” There were no websites like or where a subscriber can create his own personal fan club, or magazines like ME in which “ordinary people” are rendered as celebrities, or celebrities are rendered as ordinary people. Today, mainstream popular culture has taken the obsession with celebrities to such an extreme level that I cannot KATHE BURKHART IS AN INTERDISCIPLINARY ARTIST AND WRITER. HER WORK HAS BEEN EXHIBITED INTERNATIONALLY, INCLUDING AT PS1 CONTEMPORARY ART CENTER (MOMA), THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM, WEATHERSPOON MUSEUM, AND NEUBERGER MUSEUM (USA); BANFF CENTRE FOR THE ARTS (CANADA); SMAK MUSEUM (BELGIUM); THE FLASHART MUSEUM, 1993 VENICE BIENNALE, AND GALLERIA D’ARTE MODERNA BOLOGNA (ITALY); AND THE GRONINGEN AND HELMOND MUSEUMS (NETHERLANDS). SHE HAS HAD THIRTY SOLO EXHIBITIONS, AMONG THEM AT PARTICIPANT INC., ALEXANDER GRAY ASSOCIATES, MITCHELL ALGUS GALLERY, SCHROEDER ROMERO GALLERY, FEATURE INC. (ALL IN NYC), AND AT GALERIE LUMEN TRAVO (AMSTERDAM). HER WORK APPEARED ON THE COVER OF FLASHART IN DECEMBER 1990 AND WAS THE SUBJECT OF THE FEATURE ARTICLE “BAD GIRL MADE GOOD.” BURKHART HAS RECEIVED GRANTS FROM THE MONDRIAAN FOUNDATION, CHANGE, ARTS INTERNATIONAL, ART MATTERS, AND THE AMSTERDAM FOUNDATION FOR FINE ART, DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE. SHE IS THE AUTHOR OF THREE BOOKS OF FICTION, DEUX AMES SOEURS (BETWEEN THE LINES) HACHETTE LITTERATURES, 2005; DEUX POIDS, DEUX MESURES (THE DOUBLE STANDARD) HACHETTE LITTERATURES, 2002; AND PARTICIPANT PRESS, 2005, AND FROM UNDER THE 8 BALL, LINE, 1985. SHE TEACHES ART AND CRITICAL THEORY AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, AND DIVIDES HER TIME BETWEEN NEW YORK AND AMSTERDAM. THE LIZ TAYLOR SERIES: THE FIRST TWENTY FIVE YEARS, WAS PUBLISHED BY REGENCY ARTS PRESS IN NOVEMBER 2007. WWW.ALEXANDERGRAY.COM > CULTURAL POLITICS 224 FIELD REPORT possibly hope to compete with it in my artistic practice. Still, I want to trace the current obsession with celebrity as a backdrop to one long strand of my work, the Liz Taylor Series. THE UN(REAL) WORLD In the visual arts, we owe much in our consideration of today’s celebrity culture to Andy Warhol, the Factory, and its renegade troupe of superstars. Warhol’s legacy has left artists in a strange predicament. The artist, formerly an antisocial, bohemian creature who thrived on isolation, has been replaced by the obsequious, corporate “business artist.” The pendulum has swung from artists who rebelled against the market to artists like Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons who colluded and even reveled in its machinations. Some artists’ thirst for celebrity and the visibility and media attention it confers have resorted to elaborate stunts that, more than anything, bring to mind the HBO series Jackass. According to P . David Marshall, “We’re moving from a representation culture, where celebrities or stars represented us, to a presentation culture, where we can present ourselves” (quoted in the Leland 2006). Gash: from the Liz Taylor Series (Ash Wednesday). Acrylic, gauze, paper on canvas. 90 × 60 inches, 2004. CULTURAL POLITICS 225 FIELD REPORT As early as 1975, in his book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (I was delighted to find three entries reserved for Elizabeth Taylor in the table of contents) Warhol observed that “New categories of people are now being put up there as stars” (Warhol 1975: 85). We only have to...


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