Sunday, October 4, 2009


Looks like McDonald's will now be serving patrons at La Louvre. Some art lovers consider this a "sign of the apocalypse", but I disagree. I think McDonald's belongs at La Louvre. An installation piece that, more than anything else represents the culture of today. A "McCulture" if you will. In the tradition of Andy Warhol, McDonald's has taken something great and unique, mass-produced it and made it available to everyone with 99 cents in their pocket. Warhol did this and died a very rich man.

Allow me to break down my theory here.

Pop art was what some might call a "travesty". It elevated something as banal as a soup can to the level of the Mona Lisa and people ate it up. Warhol's cynical genius created a movement that is still going today. He used the skills that he had (marketing) to make people want his work and want him. There's nothing special or interesting about an 8 minute film of a man sleeping. There's nothing original or thought provoking about off-color reproductions of images of Marilyn Monroe. Unless you view it as a commentary on the comodification of our culture.

Now, if you believe as I do, that the purpose of art is to create something that shifts the view of your audience to be more sympathetic to your perspective by showing them exactly what you see, McDonald's is one of the greatest art franchises of the 20th century. McDonald's has created a real-life performance piece about the comodification of our culture. Not only that, in being so ubiquitous within our culture it has created a "McCulture", changing our slang. Kids meals are Happy Meals. Burgers are Big Macs. A teenager's very first job (often in food service, often at McDonald's) is a "mcjob". Giant houses that go up in a matter of weeks are "mcmansions". In a sense, McDonald's has continued the work of Andy Warhol, (and Marcel Duchamp before him), in making an art out of making chumps of everyone around them.

It's impressive and hilarious, but as I've already said, very little exemplifies contemporary culture more than McDonald's. As such, I believe it belongs at La Louvre. Centuries from now, art history students will look back at our culture and, just as we look back at the Renaissance and only see Michaelangelo and Titian; they will see Warhol and McDonald's. They won't know that we didn't think of McDonald's as art, much the same as people of the 17th and 18th centuries didn't really think of the contents of their cathedrals as art. That's not the point. Michaelangelo changed the way the world viewed itself. So did Warhol.

So has, arguably, McDonald's.

No comments: