sat 19/10/2019

Modern Masters: Warhol, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

Modern Masters: Warhol, BBC One

Modern Masters: Warhol, BBC One

Did Andy Warhol change the world? An art critic dons an Andy-suit to find out

Alastair Sooke ponders the inescapable coolness of Andy Warhol

I wondered how long it would be before Andy Warhol’s "15 minute" quote came up. From the whizzy, flash-bang opening credits  I knew it wouldn’t be long. I was right: but less than seven minutes? Less than five?  I didn’t time it, since I was still somewhat mesmerised by the sight of perky presenter Alastair Sooke doing a kind of disco-dancey, pointy-arm manoeuvre in front of  Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon during the intro. (Oh no,  Alastair, I wanted to cry, you can’t out-cool Andy, so don’t even try.)

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I think this program was primarily aimed at people born after 1985, hence the amount of re-inventing the wheel and references to the origins of Facebook, Big Brother, etc. This might also explain why all the experts, not to mention the presenter, were fresher-faced than Nick Clegg. The only silver hair or wrinkles to be seen were on Veterans of the Scene, much as elderly people are wheeled out to recount eyewitness testimony for documentaries on World War II but rarely appear in any other capacity. For those of us who actually lived through some of these events, it was all a bit well-worn, except for the anecdotes about Warhol's early days in New York . I especially liked his former employers at the leather factory describing him as a model employee, punctual and respectful. Andy Warhol, model employee - who would have thought?

Your review is very polite - I thought it was hatefully bad, and an apalling squandering of the opportunity to make an arts programme with genuine popular appeal. Sooke is not an idiot, but neither is he a television presenter; he has a weak voice, couldn't read an autocue without over-pronouncing and doing all kinds of weird and deeply awkward pauses and emPHAsis OF all the wrong WORDS, and his interviewing technique seemed to consist of "so um like right yeah ok yeah right um right ok yeah" as much as it did actually asking questions. It would have been passable, just, as a schools programme, but as a high-budget primetime flagship arts show it is simply disgusting. Like I say, though, Sooke's not an idiot and isn't to blame for the ghastliness - the person to blame is whichever penis commissioned this thinking they could "do for modern art what Brian Cox did for astrophysics".

It was 'Warhol for Dummies' and a little annoying. I was the most upset, however, when the presenter termed Warhol's factory people 'freaks'. That is not acceptable.

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