Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987) Painter, Printmaker, Filmmaker
Andrew Warhola (Andy Warhol) Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 6, 1928 to working class parents who had emigrated from Slovakia. His father workedin a coal mine. In 3rd grade, Andy became ill with complications from Scarlet Fever. While sick in bed, he drew, listened to the radio, and collected pictures of movie stars.
Warhol studied commercial art at the school of fine arts at Carnegie Institue of Technology in Pittsburgh. In 1949, he moved to New York City and worked as an illustrator for magazines & advertising. He was hired by RCA records to design album covers and promotional materials. Sprite Heads Playing Violins (1948) Female Fashion Figure (1950s)
He had his first exhibition at a gallery in 1962. His art was dubbed “Pop Art”. He made art out of every day objects, like Campbell’s soup cans, dollar bills, and Coke bottles, as well as doing portraits of celebrities. 100 Dollar Bills (1962)
He called his art studio “the factory”, and surrounded himself with lots of other artists, poets, musicians and writers. He began making silk screens of his work – a process of print making where many copies of an image can be reproduced. His work was popular and controversial. Critics said it was too commercial. This prompted a big question: What is Art? Marilyn Diptych (1962)
“What’s great about this country is that the richest consumers buy the same things as the poorest. The president drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke, and no amount of money can get you a better coke. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good.” – Andy Warhol 100 Coke Bottles (1962)
In 1968, a disgruntled fringe member of “The Factory” shot Andy Warhol. He was wounded seriously and barely survived. He would suffer physical and emotional side effects of the ordeal for the rest of his life. It changed his art, and the way he lived his life. Moving forward, he sought out rich patrons and made portraits.
Critics at the time called his work superficial and commercial. Much later, it seemed that his work was a mirror of the 70s and 80s, when American culture could be criticized for the same things. Liza Minelli (1964)
Warhol was also a very prolific film maker. In a 5 year period, he made more than 60 films and over 500 short black & white “screen tests” of people who visited the factory. His film “Sleep” consisted of a man sleeping for 6 hours. “Empire” was eight hours of film of the Empire State Building. “Eat” was a 45-minute film of a man eating a mushroom. Empire (1964)
Some question how much of the art was created by Warhol himself, and how much he had others at the factory do. In 1961, Warhol wrote a check to a gallery owner for $50 as payment for coming up with the idea painting soup cans. The painting sold for $10,000 at auction in 1971. Similar paintings sell for over $6 million dollars today. 100 soup cans (1962)
Warhol’s entire estate was left to a foundation dedicated to the “advancement of visual arts”. He had so many possessions, it took 9 days to auction it off after his death. The auction raised more than $20 million. Andy Warhol died in New York City on February 22, 1987 of complications from gall bladder surgery.
Andy Warhol also left behind 612 “time capsules” – cardboard boxes filled with photos, newspapers, letters, magazines, phone messages and ads for concerts and poetry readings.