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For review copy/media info: Danielle Wilberg, 217-244-4689

What Andy Warhol didn't know . . . changed history.

In a provocative new book Pop Trickster Fool: Warhol Performs Naivete (University of Illinois Press, 2004), Kelly M. Cresap, Ph.D., shows how the sixties pop artist Andy Warhol transformed the archetypes of fool and trickster, and in doing so turned himself into an emblem of our own moment in history.

Warhol habitually adopted the guise of a fool in public, which made it all the harder to grasp what he was getting at with his pop paintings and deadpan films. By making his own apparent lack of competence and brain-power into an elaborate ruse, he became a figure without precedent: a man whose self-conscious naivete has had revolutionary impact.

The social persona Warhol maintained – of someone who was clueless, but in a savvy way – was a number of things simultaneously: a sixties-style put-on and publicity stunt; a breach of masculine and artistic decorum; a cover against scandal; a key strategy in the makeover of an ugly duckling; a way of perpetuating childhood reverie; a mark of the artist's Slovakian ancestry; and a method of coping with being the queer son of working-class immigrants.

Even more complex than the persona has been its impact in the public realm. Alternately praised and denounced on a host of scores, Warhol has generated a reception history staggering in its scope and immensity. Pop Trickster Fool serves both as a critical biography and as an inquiry into broad social changes occurring since the 1960s – particularly, how traditional notions of civic duty and intellectual credibility have contended with new possibilities of pleasure, transgression, image politics, sexual liberation, and personal freedom.

Pop Trickster Fool is for those who have been puzzled by Warhol ever since his fine-art debut in 1962; it is also for those who know little about him, but who may be surprised at how many of their own gestures and attitudes he has patented.

Author Kelly M. Cresap, Ph.D., is a storyteller, seminar leader, humorist, and performer based in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Book excerpts available at http://www.laughingmuse.com. For individual orders, contact a local bookseller, call 1-800-537-5487, or visit www.press.uillinois.edu.