is kim kardashian west the andy warhol of our time?

5 things we learned about Kim K’s role in art history today.

by Alice Newell-Hanson
20 May 2015, 10:25pm

courtesy Rizzoli

Bespectacled Instagram sensation and NYC cultural treasure Jerry Saltz — the senior art critic at New York magazine — crowned Kim Kardashian's Selfish "a kind of American My Struggle" today. In a conversation with editor David Wallace-Wells published on this afternoon (commenter WilliamStill: "Were you guys high when you had this conversation?"), Saltz spoke lyrically and seriously about Kim K's place in cultural history. Comparisons to Knausgaard and Warhol were made. Here are the important takeaways.

Selfish is in all of us.
Saltz says he has been "savoring" the book but will not be adding it to his Amazon cart any time soon. With the sage mysticism of an elder in a Disney film, he says "the book is within me already, and we all have our own Selfish." He goes on to compare it to My Struggle, adding "that's Karl Ove Knausgaard's epic, not Hitler's."

Kim's bod has changed society's beauty standards.
While Saltz is sceptical of Kim's claim that her butt is a work of art, he is rightly awestruck by her body's realignment of cultural beauty standards: "We don't even discuss how unconventional her form is and was at the time, given the rigid strictures of female beauty defined by society!" He says later, "Kim is now a role model. And she should be."

Kimye is the Warhol of 2k15.
Kim and Kanye's "combined meme," argues Saltz, has "compressed into some new essence, an essence that they [seem] to be shaping as surely and strangely as Andy Warhol once formed his." Like Warhol's, Kimye's artistic process "spawns knee-jerk criticisms of crassness [...] But it makes people look at the same time."

Selfies may disappear, but Kim will remain their creator.
Saltz suggests that selfies are an artform on the outs — "The form will not die but become so ubiquitous that it will become an invisible genre, like landscape or a rhyme" — but acknowledges Kim as their creator: "Kim is a first adapter and partial inventor of a genre."

Kim is an emblem for a new age of acceptance.
The reception of Kim's book (see: this comparison between Kim and Virginia Woolf) is a turning point in our current takedown culture, says Saltz. In what may be the crux of his argument, he states: "A homegrown, unafraid criticism is springing up in the wreckage of criticism that is still mostly conventional wisdom with right and wrong artists, -isms, attitudes, tastes, and all the rest. I mean, Kim has nothing to do with it, but the ethos of acceptance or change around her is indicative of something. I love this."


Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography courtesy Rizzoli

Kim Kardashian
Andy Warhol
New York Magazine
jerry Saltz
the vulture