In 1968, shortly after being shot by radical feminist author Valerie Jean Solanas, Andy Warhol said, “I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. 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.”
That comment could easily be taken as an indictment against TV. But a recently discovered photograph offers evidence that, if anything, Warhol had nothing but respect for the medium. The photograph shows a previously unknown Warhol painting of a whimsical accumulation of TV antennas swirling around each other in a Modernist swarm gracing the walls of the old offices of CBS Television in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Warhol completed multiple other commissions for various CBS offices in the 1950s, but this painting was unknown until the rare book in which the photograph was incidentally featured was unearthed by an art historian at the University of Pittsburgh. The discovery adds weight to the idea that perhaps the comments Warhol made about TV were less about television and more about his own inability to feel emotion.
Image caption: By Fini educativi [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons