The Life, Major Facts, and Accomplishments of Andy Warhol
Recognized as one of the greatest Pop artists of his era, Andy Warhol was an American artist and filmmaker who revolutionized the commercial culture with his mass-produced artworks.
Andy Warhol: Fast Facts
Born: Andrew Warhola
Birthday: August 6, 1928
Place of birth: 73 Orr Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died: February 22, 1987
Place of Death: New York City, New York, U.S.
Father: Andrej Warhola
Mother: Julia Warhola
Siblings: Paul, John
Education: Carnegie Mellon University (formerly Carnegie Institute of Technology); Schenley High School
Most famous works: Campbell’s Soup Cans, Chelsea Girls (1966 film), Moonwalk, Marilyn Monroe, Che, Eight Elvises
Art style: Pop art and ready-made
Most Famous for: Developing and refining the Blotted-line ink drawings
Early life and education
Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to a construction worker and an embroiderer.
His parents – Andrej and Julia Warhola – originally came from Slovakia. They immigrated from Carpatho-Rusyn, near the Carpathian Mountains (now eastern Slovakia) to the United States.
Born Andrew Warhola, this remarkable artist had a rough patch at a tender age, as he was diagnosed with a type of liver disease (known as St. Vitus dance or Sydeham chorea) that made his limbs spasm sometimes. It was around this time that his mother introduced him to painting and drawing. Being very reserved and shy, Andy Warhol quickly found solace in drawing and photography. He also took quite an interest in movies.
Although his family was from a working-class background, and his family, like many others, were at that time reeling from the Great Depression, Andy still got his first camera at the age of 8.
Before his father passed away from liver diseases, he made sure to leave enough resources to fund Andy’s tuition fees for college. After graduating from high school, he proceeded to enroll at Carnegie Mellon University, where he majored in pictorial design. He graduated in 1949.
Time in New York City
In 1949, Andy Warhol relocated to New York to establish his art career in commercial illustration. With sheer hard work and focus, it did not take too long for Andy to become one of the most successful and influential artist in the City that Never Sleeps.
Throughout the 1950s, he collaborated with a number of famous magazines and organizations, including Vogue, Tiffany & Co., Columbia Records, and Fleming-Joffe.
Did you know: Andy Warhol’s first work – an illustration in a story titled “What is Success?” – appeared in Glamour magazine in 1949?
Andy Warhol’s remarkable and banal paintings of consumer goods
His big break in the industry came in 1962, when he showcased his paintings of some popular brand names, including Campbell’s soup cans, Coca-Cola bottles and Brillo soap boxes.
n the ensuing decade, Andy Warhol continued to make huge waves in New York City as commercial artist, receiving enormous praises from several art patrons and influential business magnates. Although banal in so many ways, his art works were so uniquely good in their own way that he won numerous prizes.
In mass-producing those banal paintings of those consumer products, he deployed techniques such as photographic silkscreen. The silkscreen allowed him to make the portrait look bland and less human so as to communicate the shallowness of the growing material culture. However, Warhol did it in such a very unique way, removing every trace of his emotions from the portrait.
Andy Warhol and Pop Art Paintings
Wanting to push himself even further, Andy Warhol came up with a brilliant idea in 1961. He thought of a way to infuse mass-produced and commercial goods into his works. He would later describe this art style as “Pop Art”, which involves the repeated use of commercial images in an art work. Andy Warhol’s works in Campbell’s Soup Cans perfectly epitomizes this art style. It has been estimated that the genius artist repeatedly reproduced Campbell’s Soup cans for about two hundred times in just one painting.
Andy Warhol’s most preferred media for his pictures were silkscreen and lithography.
Andy Warhol’s paintings of famous people
Examples of some the famous people that Andy Warhol captured in his paintings include Mao Zedong, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, and Che Guevara. He made many of those portraits using garish colors.
The 1960s saw Andy Warhol commit significant amount of his time and energy into filmmaking. Many of those films, including The Chelsea (1966), Eat (1963) and Lupe (1966), were tagged as underground films – i.e. films made and distributed purely for artistic purposes, often done outside the commercial world of filmmaking.
Warhol’s films, which were often plotless and lengthy, were an avenue for him to express his artistic abilities. In 1963, he made a six-hour film of his friend just sleeping. The film is called Sleep.
Andy Warhol passion for film was unrelenting; it’s been estimated that he produced about 60 films.
Andy Warhol’s studio – “The Factory”
As his fame grew, Andy Warhol’s artistic works got better and better. He established a studio called “The Factory”, which was not just his work place but a place he used to host extravagant and plush parties for New York City’s wealthy and influential people. Those parties were also avenue for him to sell his art works.
He also hosted several parties at the Manhattan restaurant Serendipity 3. The parties provide Warhol an opportunity to make sketchbook drawings of young men in erotic postures, sometimes even nude.
Andy Warhol’s sexuality
He was a homosexual, and his sexual orientation influenced a great number of his work. He once submitted a work to the Tanager Gallery in New York City only for it to be rejected due to what the gallery considered a bit offensive. Back then homosexuality was considered a criminal act.
His book of drawings titled Boy Portraits contained several erotic depictions of men as well paintings of their genitalia.
Contrary to what many public gay men did back then, Andy Warhol fully embraced his sexuality, proudly displaying themes of it in many of his works.
In his underground film Sleep (1963) he proudly displayed his then-boyfriend John Giorno sleeping without clothes for a whopping six hours.
He is believed to have mixed business with pleasure sometimes, as a great number of his business and art associates doubled as his romantic partners, including Jed Johnson, Ted Carey and poet John Giorno.
Warhol’s artworks were very much different from his contemporaries. His drive to be the best and extremely rich from his art had a huge impact on his art.
His paintings went on to receive enormous praise; they are rated very highly in American culture, attracting huge price tags since his death. For example, his Eight Elvises was sold for around $100 million in 2008.
Andy Warhol is best remembered for commercializing his art in such a manner that they could easily be afforded by the masses.
Other interesting Facts about Andy Warhol
- Andy Warhol’s name was originally Warhola. He came to be called “Warhol” as a result of the name being misspelt in the credits of a job that he was working on. Andy is believed to have fallen in love with the misspelt name and thereafter kept it.
- When he was born, for some strange reasons his birth date was not recorded.
- He was born in a working-class family that lived at 73 Orr Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- His mother – Julia Warhola – was also an artist who loved illustrating cats and angels. She is credited with the book Holy Cats by Andy Warhol’s Mother, which Andy Warhol published in 1957. He also collaborated with his mother on several drawings and book illustrations, where she added a feminine touch.
- As a result of the illness he suffered (i.e. Sydenham chorea), Warhol spent quite a lot of time as a child bedridden. And because the illness caused his skin color to change, he received unsavory nicknames such as “spot” and “Andy the Red-nosed Warhola”.
- He always balanced sound business with art, describing good business as an art form.
- In 1968, the radical feminist Valerie Solanis almost killed Andy Warhol. Solanis shot Andy Warhol three times in the chest. The 1996 film I Shot Andy Warhol captures the story.
- Fans of Andy Warhol can revel in the artist’s genius at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, where majority of his work is proudly displayed.
- Warhol specifically stated in his will that his artwork and estate be used for “the advancement of the visual arts.” And so the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts was born in 1987.
- After a surgery on his gall bladder, Andy Warhol passed away in the hospital on February 22, 1987. He died of a post-operative heart attack.