- NAME: Andy Warhol
- OCCUPATION: Painter, Filmmaker
- BIRTH DATE: August 06, 1928
- DEATH DATE: February 22, 1987
- Did You Know?: Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" is a tribute to the individuals he'd met at Andy Warhol's "The Factory," including Holly Woodlawn, "Sugar Plum Fairy" Joe Campbell and Jackie Curtis.
- EDUCATION: Carnegie Institute (Carnegie Museum of Art), Schenley High School, Carnegie Institute for Technology (Carnegie Mellon University)
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Oakland, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
- Full Name: Andrew Warhola
- AKA: Andy Warhola
- AKA: Andy Warhol
- AKA: Andrew Warhol
Best Known For
Illustrator Andy Warhol was one of the most prolific and popular artists of his time, using both avant-garde and highly commercial sensibilities.
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Andy Warhol was the superstar of the Pop Art movement. His "Campbell's Soup Cans" and "Gold Marilyn Monroe" made him famous worldwide, and his studio, known as "The Factory," became a magnet for artists of the 60s counterculture.
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British artist Richard Hamilton described pop art as "popular, transient, expendable, low cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, big business." As Warhol himself put it, "Once you 'got' pop, you could never see a sign the same way again. And once you thought pop, you could never see America the same way again."
Warhol's other famous pop paintings depicted Coca-cola bottles,
vacuum cleaners and hamburgers. He also painted celebrity portraits in vivid and garish colors; his most famous subjects include Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Mick Jagger and Mao Zedong. As these portraits gained fame and notoriety, Warhol began to receive hundreds of commissions for portraits from socialites and celebrities. His portrait " Eight Elvises" eventually resold for $100 million in 2008, making it one of the most valuable paintings in world history.
In 1964, Warhol opened his own art studio, a large silver-painted warehouse known simply as "The Factory." The Factory quickly became one of New York City's premier cultural hotspots, a scene of lavish parties attended by the city's wealthiest socialites and celebrities, including musician Lou Reed, who paid tribute to the hustlers and transvestites he'd met at The Factory with his hit song "Walk on the Wild Side"—the verses of which contain descriptions of individuals who were fixtures at the legendary studio/warehouse in the '60s, including Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, "Little Joe" Dallesandro, "Sugar Plum Fairy" Joe Campbell and Jackie Curtis. (Warhol was a friend of Reed's and managed Reed's band, the Velvet Underground.)
Warhol, who clearly relished his celebrity, became a fixture at infamous New York City nightclubs like Studio 54 and Max's Kansas City. Commenting on celebrity fixation—his own and that of the public at large—Warhol observed, "more than anything people just want stars."
In the 1970s, Warhol began expanding into new artistic mediums. He put together his first book, Andy Warhol's Index, in 1967, and released several other titles such as The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)and Exposures in the 1970s. Warhol also experimented extensively with video art, producing more than 60 films during his career. Some of his most famous films include Sleep, which depicts poet John Giorno sleeping for six hours, and Eat, which shows a man eating a mushroom for 45 minutes.
Warhol also worked in sculpture and photography, and in the 1980s, he moved into television, hosting Andy Warhol's TV and Andy Warhol's Fifteen Minutes on MTV.
Warhol died on February 22, 1987, at the age of 58. His personal life has been the subject of much debate and consideration. He is widely believed to have been a gay man, and his art was often infused with homoerotic imagery and motifs. However, he claimed that he remained a virgin for his entire life.
Warhol's life and work simultaneously satirized and celebrated materiality and celebrity. On the one hand, his paintings of distorted brand images and celebrity faces could be read as a critique of what he viewed as a culture obsessed with money and celebrity. On the other hand, Warhol's focus on consumer goods and pop-culture icons, as well as his own taste for money and fame, suggest a life in celebration of the very aspects of American culture that his work criticized. Warhol spoke to this apparent contradiction between his life and work in his book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, writing that "making money is art and working is art, and good business is the best art."
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Pop art, which started in the mid 1950s in the U.K. and just a few years later in the U.S., is the use of popular ad and news imagery, usually in an ironic and/or kitschy sort of way. Whether conceptual or experiential, pop art is art for the masses...and thanks to Andy Warhol, we'll never look at Campbell's Soup cans the same way again.
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