Lite-Brite

…And here we have a breathtaking postmodernist piece. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Warhol’s “Happy Clown”.

One of his lesser known works, “Happy Clown” embodies the temperament of the country in the late 60s and early 70s. There is debate among critics on whether this particular piece is commentating on the Vietnam War or American consumerism in general. Personally, I would even say it’s both. The artist is certainly conveying some very strong emotion here.

The style itself is most likely a nod to such stipple masters as Georges Seurat. But the deconstruction in this piece is strikingly Dadaist in nature. Compared to most post-postmodernism works or even today’s complex algorithmic art, Warhol was very much ahead of his time. It is, in and of itself, a tribute to the popular culture as well as social and political issues of the time.

Notice the subtle use of greens and blues among the more domineering reds and oranges. The color palette alone was clearly influenced by such abstract expressionists as Barnett Newman and Hans Hoffman. I’d even go so far as to cite inspiration from the minimalist works of Piet Mondrian. Though, as you can see, this work is so much more streamlined.

It’s as if Warhol knew exactly what he wanted and exactly when to stop, almost as if he were following some pre-existing pattern. But even in its simple symmetry, it’s oddly haunting don’t you think? It’s really the masterful use of negative space that gives this piece its true balance. It’s so singular, so provocative. Almost as if beyond its borders, nothing else can even exist.

And that, parents and guardians, is little Billy Warhol’s entry in the seventh grade art show. Isn’t he talented? Now let’s move on to Susie Thompson’s diorama of the water cycle.

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