Andy Warhol By: Kelsey Sherer
Andy Warhol's works first showed up in galleries in the early 1960s. Warhol ultimately became one of the most famous figures of the 20th century, renowned as much for the persona he created as for his multiple original silk-screen images of common supermarket products, front-page news events, and celebrity icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando, and Elizabeth Taylor.
Warhol was born Andrew Warhola, a son of Slovakian immigrants, in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Aug. 6, 1928. He was a frail child, and rheumatic fever left him with the pale, blotchy skin that, along with the shaggy white wigs he wore to hide his thinning hair, contributed to his distinctive looks.
A graduate (1949) of the Carnegie Institute of Technology, he moved to New York City, where his success as a commercial artist was immediate. One of his earliest pop art paintings, Saturday's Popeye, appeared as a backdrop in a 1961 window he designed for A New yORK department store, but he soon turned from cartoon imagery to the supermarket icons—identical handpainted portraits of Campbell's soup cans, differing only in the flavor stated on the label—seen in his first solo pop art exhibition in 1962.
The same year, he discovered the convenience of commercially fabricated silk screens. With the help of assistants, in a Manhattan studio he called the Factory, Warhol could now mass-produce paintings. In 1963 Warhol began to explore film and three-dimensional objects—for example, BrilloBoxes.
In 1965, Warhol abruptly announced that he would retire from painting to devote himself exclusively to experimental movies. Warhol made a series of films dealing with such ideas as time, boredom, and repetition.
On June 3, 1968, Warhol was shot and seriously wounded by Valerie Solanis, a deranged writer and the founder of SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men), of which she was the sole member.
Warhol never entirely recovered from the life-threatening wounds. He produced records and wrote books such as The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again (1975). He died in New York City on February 22, 1987, of complications following a routine gallstone surgery. He was buried in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.