Warhols Factory - A Laboratory

Term Paper 2008 16 Pages

Art - Installation / Action/Performance Art / Modern Art


Table of Contents

I The scientific laboratory

II The concept of the art laboratory

III Warhol´s silver factory
1. Andy Warhol
2. The factory
3. The factory as an art laboratory
a) The Change in the Art world in New York in the 1950s
b) The factory and its policies – an art laboratory

IV Conclusion

V Bibliopgraphy

Laboratory: a room or building used for scientific research, experiments and testing.

Oxford Advanced Leaner´s Dictionary

I The Laboratory in Science

In common sense, a laboratory or lab, does not have anything to do with art or art organisations.

It constitutes a place where research, especially scientific research, is done. In most cases, the term is linked with medicine or science general, but not with culture. As also the Oxford Advacned Dictionry supposes it has furthermore something to do with experiments and testings. At first, I will work on the term “laboratory” itself. In sciences, questions and theses are often developped outside the laboratory and the lab serves as a platform where they can be empirically examined. It has also something to do with controlled conditions which help to examine specific phenomenons or occurences. So one specific assumption can be examined in artificial conditions. This makes it easier to find answers to the problem. But it does often not reflect reality as a whole. It is for example possible to “forget” one assumption for a certain time in the laboratory by producing the “perfect” environment. But, in reality this enivironment for this special problem, can not be assumed; it always differs from the data in the laboratory. But, the researchers can see possible effects of the thesis examined and so draw conclusions for the actual settings.

To come to another term in context with laboratory: the experiment. Normally, the researchers do experiments in laboratories. “Experiment” stems from the Latin word “experimentum” which means example, proof or test. With experiments, one can examine a variety of things in changing circumstances. The researchers can try to validate hypotheses with a certain kind of experiment It is the most important scientific method to draw conclusions about causal connections. The analysis of experiments produces conclusions on which one can build theories or validate hypotheses. So, in conclusion a scientific laboratory is a place where theories or theses can be developped and examined under a certain set of artificial conditions.

But even when I will uncouple the laboratory in science from the one in art in the next paragraph, there is a “core” behind the laboratory concept linking every kind of laboratory: As the linguistic deduction presumes “laboratory” always has to do something with “labour” or “work”. It originates from the latin expression laborare – (to) work. This is - as I think - something which can be used for a transfused concept of laboratory detached from the scientific ground.

The organisation that generates and discovers things: a laboratory.

Dragicevic Sesic and Dragojevic

II The concept of an art laboratory

The laboratory is not only a ground where scientific research takes place but also a form of art institution as Dragicevic Sesic and Dragojevic supposed in their “Art management in turbulent times: Adaptable Quality Management” in 2005. I will develop the term “art laboratory” with its characteristics in the following. In the paragraph, I will try to use several scientific “laboratory” definitons for my work by transferring them into the cultural context. Moreover, I will use the work of Bourdieu, Becker and Knorr Cetina to work on the term.

The “laboratory” constitutes, as Verena Kuni observes, the “framework for the scientific examination of phenomenons”[1]. These phenomenons are, as August Comte noticed already about 100 years ago, “modified by artificial, especially for the aim of their research arranged circumstances”[2]. These phenomenons are, in conclusion, made in and through the laboratory.

In terms of art, the laboratory constitues an artifical framework where a certain kind of experiment can take place. This provisional definition is very similar to the scientific one. The question for me is now, which are the “subjects” in the experiments; what exactly is examined. Possibly, it could be that the phenomenon which is examined is the artists himself. He tries to find out something about himself in his working process and by examining himself in doing art. His personality plays a vital part in this process and it is even possible to say that the artpiece which comes out of the working process is only some kind of by-product in the artist´s process of self-examination (Berkel, 1980). Summing up, one could say, that on the one hand, the lab serves as a trial ground for the artists detached from the art – some kind of playground for the artist, but not for the playing, but for the self finding. But on the other hand it has also something to do with the process of work itself. I personally belief that art can stand for itself not only in context with the artist and his personality and is not only a by-product of his self-finding process. Of course it is of highest importance for the artist to express him or herself by means of art and so the “laboratory” definition from above can be used to a certain extent, but is has also to do something with the process itself. The laboratory serves as a ground for experimentation for the artist and the art. The artist has a place where his creativity stands for itself; he is able to free himself in his artwork and moreover, he simply can test different things in a environment which is safe and secure. The laboratory is in this way some kind of fortress for the artist and his art, where all sorts of different things can be sampled. Following my argumentation above, the art laboratory is a place where two different things can take part:

First, the artist examines himself by doing art and by expressing himself in his art.

Second, the laboratory is a ground for experiments. It has something to do with the artist´s examination, but over that it is the process itself which is of highest importance and of course also the output.


[1] Verena Kuni is a scientist of art and media (M. A., Ph.D.) working as a guest lecturer at numberous German universities. She held a lecture at the so called “Screening Science” conference in 2005, where she talked about the laboratory as a “place of transgression”.

[2] Augstue Comte was a french 19th- century- philsopher and thinker, linked to the invention of the term « sociology » .


ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
448 KB
Catalog Number
Institution / College
Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen
Theory of Art Andy Warhol Art History Pop Art




Title: Warhols Factory - A Laboratory