It is not universally accepted that knowledge is present in works of art. This is because when one thinks about knowledge, one often does so regarding scientific knowledge. This perception creates an environment where artists feel an increasing amount of pressure to compete with sciences and provide proof that art is important with regard to providing knowledge. This essay will examine Andy Warhol’s Soup Cans painting and Bob Marley’s song Get Up Stand Up and use these examples of art to show that it is possible to learn knowledge.
In 1962, Andy Warhol created a set of canvasses that depicted 32 varieties of soup made by the Campbell Company. A close examination of the culture surrounding the time in which Warhol created this image points to the fact that his soup cans could have been a statement regarding the decline and increasing lack of importance of being an expert especially in the field of arts. By creating a representation of natural choices made by a consumer in the area of art, one gets the sense that Warhol was saying that in the years to come, people will be making a choice about art in the same way that they go shopping for groceries (Fallon, 2010). Warhol’s soup can series appears to describe the situation that all consumers, who live in a modern and capitalist society, find themselves in. In this environment, the consumer has the chance to make a choice from different groups of items produced in a factory whose packaging as well as labeling encourage the user to believe that he is making a selection of products that have high quality (Fallon, 2010).
Using his painting, Warhol made a correct assumption that culture would slowly move away from the traditional perceptions about morality, custom as well as emotion. Instead, society would become more focused on achieving efficiency as well as rational thoughts. This is a society that mostly thinks about money, making and marketing products and then consuming them. The soup cans together appear as a still life but what is distinct about them is that they do not encourage the viewer to consider aspects such as vanity or greed. There is no suggestion to the viewer that he needs to examine himself and his morality when making a choice. Seeing these cans, Warhol seems to encourage the viewer, if he wants to, to reach out, and choose any of the cans he wants and grab the opener. The audience gets the thought that for Warhol, choices are that innocent and lacking in any morals (Fallon, 2010).
A person viewing Andy Warhol’s painting would likely notice the lack of meaning in the picture. Warhol took an approach that and used the subject manner in a way that is very deep. All the human factors that describe painting such as touch, the link between the artist’s hand and their mind, surprise and meaning are not present in Warhol’s painting. It appears that Warhol wanted to put distance between himself from the traditional thoughts about having adequate skills and instead focus more on his work, the assumptions about the popular culture that was cultivated in the 1960s in America. In this instance, the knowledge gained from viewing this piece of art is suggestions concerning the society as a whole (Fallon, 2010).
The second example of Bob Marley’s song Get Up Stand Up is filled with emotion and deep meaning. The song was originally written when Bob Marley went on tour in Haiti and witnessed firsthand the poverty and depression that the people in this country were experiencing. A person listening to the song, the audience gets the sense of the need to fight for whatever they feel is right in their eyes. His song argues that life is a person’s right and he, therefore, cannot give up the fight for any of his rights. For the listener, it encourages him to think more closely about himself, showing him that he has the power to change the way he thinks since he is no longer bound by any physical chains (Marley, 1973). The listener also gains knowledge about equal rights, justice as well as freedom. It is a song that encourages the listener to become more active and involved in his community as well as government. More importantly, it sets out the importance of embracing change and that the time has come for people to defend their rights. For Marley, the society in that time had forgotten that anyone had the right to access their fundamental human rights and irrespective of their circumstances these rights should not be taken away (Marley, 1973).
Bob Marley’s song is a representation of the way that music can be used as a form of protest and commentary on the society. It is not only a form of communication but also of creativity especially those that speak about political matters. Marley’s song talks about fighting for one’s personal freedoms, dealing with poverty and liberation and in a way, one gets to learn the manner in which society during this time was characterized by massive amounts of inequality. The listener begins to think about how he can contribute to this fight and whether in his life some instances require him to stand up and defend himself (Marley, 1973).
Marley lived in an environment where people were becoming more politically aware, and Marley’s song, in particular, stands out because he does not attempt to make the song soft to fit into the society. Instead, a person listening to the song feels the political and spiritual meaning behind the song and the deep sense of responsibility to changing the problems he believes society is going through (Marley, 1973). In this regard, Bob Marley’s song paints a clear picture of the challenges that were being experienced during the time and the helplessness that Marley must have felt in knowing that there was little that was being done to solve the problem. In this regard, Bob Marley’s song encourages a distinct change in the culture particularly regarding the economic and social challenges that people who were in the lower levels of society had to deal with. The listener gets the sense that the rest of the community, which is doing relatively well seemingly, ignores these people instead only considering their interests (Marley, 1973).
Both Andy Warhol’s painting Soup Cans and Bob Marley’s song Get Up Stand Up, provide lessons to the audience regarding aspects such as the decline of experts in the art field and the need for people to speak out about their rights. Warhol’s painting seems to be stripped off any deep meanings, and instead, he appears to suggest to the audience that making choices is an act that is innocent. His work seems to be a reflection of the growing environment of consumerism and how in the years to come, people will likely think less about their abilities and more about the process of making and consuming products. On the other hand, listening to Bob Marley, one gains knowledge of the political environment of the time, the inequality that existed and the thought that Marley had that the rest of society was ignoring poor people as it grew and prospered.
- Fallon, M. (2010). How to analyze the works of Andy Warhol. New York: ABDO.
- Marley, B. (1973). Get Up Stand Up. Kingston, Jamaica: Harry J Studios.