So what was Warhol trying to say about Marilyn Monroe and how the public treated her? The different versions of this same source image reflect the impossibility of our idea of her and of fame. Her individuality was removed and she became the ideal of a compliant, fun loving, beautiful, good time. To her fans, was the Goddess of Delightful Ease.
And to Warhol? Maybe she was a brand image that had already been transformed into a “something” from a “somebody.” The blonde version of prepared foods. Or maybe he was more empathetic and his fascination more overt – just a couple of years later he would be shot by an acquaintance and he was already famous enough to be iconic with a look that was easy to sketch and have people guess the subject.
He was the idea archetype and visual “symbol” of New York pop art, the current avant garde, the rejection of classically beautiful art made by a single inspired genius. He was a concept, too, and had lost control of how people talked about his lifestyle, his art, his studio, his friends, his money, his faith.
It seems like he probably circled around questions about his public persona, his art, and perceptions of both. Does it matter? Should he fight it? What if he just doesn’t comment? A series of internal debates with slight variations, with a start and an end.