When I think about the phrase "Commodity Fetish" in relation to modern art, It makes two things come to mind. (1) Pop Art and it's relation to Mass Media, and (2) Karl Marx's explanation of the phenomenon referred to as Commodity Fetish. Marx used the term Commodity Fetishism in Das Kapital to underline how commodities appear to be considerable objects but are actually networks of social relationships. In other words, many objects are bought for the sole reason of prestige, rather than overall practicality. Knowing this, commodities are fetish ized by metaphysical and religious wishful thinking. In other words, commodity fetishism is an arrogant obsession with the status of their owner's possessions, and their exchange value independent of their "actual" worth, in whatever currency.
When this is used to describe art, the concept indicates both the aspiration for possession above all else, and an innocent praise of idealistic conceptions of art, artwork, and genius. So, when applied to the art world, this definition shows that when a piece of artwork is graced with a certain amount of prestige, the artwork is more desirable to the mass public. And in turn, the price becomes less popular to the community. Never has there ever been a better reflection of this Marxist conviction, than by Mr Andy Warhol. The father of this craze called Pop Art.
So what was Pop Art all about? In a nutshell, it was a representation of contemporary society; on the other, it was a searing critique of that same contemporary society. Furthermore, Andy Warhol was the embodiment of this. His art and films can be understood as an expanded thought on the power of the surface within modern culture. In this way, the image begins as a trace of the real that through processing it is improved, multiplies and thereby emptied out so that the reality of the image is more pronounced than the reality of the object of which it is an image. For example, He took public images, such as Brillo boxes or soup cans, and opened the outside world to taking the image without permission and transforming them into art.
His paintings, which mimic the forms and channels of mass culture, bear witness to the gigantic and inevitable power of the commodity fetish in a world of constant visual stimuli and product overload. However, It was not only his artwork that was engaged with the idea of commodity fetish, even as he represented these icons of mass culture, he also became one of them. Not only did he generate his work as a commodity, he figured his body as a work of art to be sold. In this way we can even make the statement that his greatest work of all was...
himself. For Warhol, culture and economics blurred (among other things) and he imagined both art and himself in the stream of commerce. By copying the strategies of the media, he became the master of art as a commercial endeavor. In this way, his premonition is correct about the way the american pop-culture rejoices the media's production of possession of a "unique identity." The quotes indicate heavy sarcasm. In closing, I would like to acknowledge that mass media is a double-edged sword. On one hand it does allow for widespread access to a large variety products and service.
However it also lays the groundwork for the homogenization of society, as it works against the uniqueness of a culture, and swallows everything into the mindless void we call pop-culture.