The idea that Pop Art was, in fact, Capitalist Folk Art, a form natural in its development as artists, naive in the most intelligent way, intuitively understood that the iconography and discarded wreckage was a form of art. French critics and habitual theorists have witlessly obfuscated this point, to the point that the actual no longer exists, and now there are only unceasing replications of a vague idea of historical imagery and design. I always preferred Walter Benjamin's essay 'Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction", as I think the same ideas are explored earlier in the age, with a cheery optimism and mystical poetics that is hard to resist.Benjamin was romantic enough to believe that art was a good thing for the individual and for the culture as a whole. He was convinced that the mass-reproduction of art images was necessary for a beneficial, if violent transition. Art revealed to the many empowers those multitudes to dream of possibilities and the methods of fomenting the change.
Benjamin believed that art's principal function was to produce joy, which one could consider to be a heightened sense of awareness. Warhol reflected this, though he wasn't a polemicist or an activist. He was an artist who liked things from pop culture and things that are thrown away. He was interested in how factory goods looked when they were tattered and torn around the edges. He was in love with the imperfection of the much circulated meme as it went from one copier to the next. While Warhol's art did make me aware of how much economy, finances, and manufactured consent shaped my tastes, one wonders at Warhol's refusal to lecture, to say what he thought, and to say what he thought. He was a serene Buddha who gave us a mirror of our consumption who revealed, without rant or rhetoric, what's consuming us.