August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987
Andy Warhol was one of the most influential people in American modern art. Warhol was best known for his bright colored images of famous people and food cans. Through both his art and lifestyle he explored the nature of fame, popular culture, and the media. His artistic influence and unusual personality redefined the modern art world. Andy Warhol was born August 6, 1928 in the working class neighborhood of Oakwood, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His parents were immigrants from Czechoslovakia. Their last name was Warhola, which Andy later shortened to Warhol. At the age of 8, Warhol contracted Chorea - also known as St. Vitus's Dance - a rare and sometimes fatal disease of the nervous system that left him bedridden for several months. It was during these months, while Warhol was sick in bed, that his mother, herself a skillful artist, gave him his first drawing lessons. Drawing soon became Warhol's favorite childhood pastime. He was also an avid fan of the movies, and when his mother bought him a camera at the age of 9 he took up photography as well, developing film in a makeshift darkroom he set up in their basement. Warhol attended Holmes Elementary school and took the free art classes offered at the Carnegie Institute (now the Carnegie Museum of Art) in Pittsburgh. In 1942, at the age of 14, Warhol again suffered a tragedy when his father passed away from a jaundiced liver. Warhol was so upset that he could not attend his father's funeral, and he hid under his bed throughout the wake. Warhol's father had recognized his son's artistic talents, and in his will he dictated that his life savings go toward Warhol's college education. That same year, Warhol began High School, and upon graduating, in 1945, he enrolled at the Carnegie Institute for Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) where he studied and graduated with a degree in pictorial design. Pictorial design is the art of creating images and drawings which are often used in the production of advertisements and magazines. In 1949 Warhol moved to New York City to work as a commercial artist. He drew pictures for magazines and advertisements. He became very successful. During the 1950’s Warhol drew images for many important magazines such as “Vogue” and “Harper’s Bazaar.” He also became very well known for a series of ads he made for shoes. Warhol used his experience in commercial art as an entry into fine art. He began his painting career as part of the Pop Art movement. This movement was at its strongest during the nineteen sixties. Pop Art was defined by images of material goods and popular culture. These artists painted or printed everyday images of things that usually are not considered art. These images included photographs from magazines, drink advertisements and drawings from popular comic strips. Pop artists approved of using mass media and mass production as an influence in their art. Pop Art also reflected the rise in wealth and the importance of owning things that America experienced in the 1950’s. One of Andy Warhol’s first exhibits was in 1962. He created thirty-two paintings of red and white soup cans. These paintings shook the art world. The soup cans looked like the soup produced by one of America’s most popular food companies, Campbell’s. Every painting looked the same except for the words written on the can that described the different kinds of soup. Warhol used a very smooth painting method so the artwork almost did not look hand-made. The paintings looked like they came out the same factory that made the soup cans. No one had ever seen art like this. Warhol also made paintings using images such as Coca Cola bottles, dollar symbols, and popular cleaning products. He took the most everyday objects and turned them into fine art. Warhol soon started making silk-screen prints. This method of reproduction permitted the artist to make many images very quickly. He would often repeat the same...
Cited: Andy Warhol. "Andy Warhol A Documentary Film." American Masters. 20 Sept 2006. PBS. 16 February 2014. .
Andy Warhol. "Andy Warhol Biography." bio. A+E Network. 16 February 2014. .
Andy Warhol. "Andy Warhol Biography." bio. True Story. A+E Network. 16 February 2014. .
Andy Warhol. "Andy Warhol Biography." Warhol Foundation website. 16 February 2014. .
Andy Warhol. "Andy Warhol Career Timeline." American Masters. 20 Sept 2006. PBS. 16 February 2014. .
What I find incredible interesting about Andy Warhol is what he hasn’t done. He seems to have dabbled in so many different forms of media, including: painting, printmaking, photography, drawing, sculpture, film and music. He also started a magazine (called Interview Magazine) and he wrote several books. The paintings of iconic American images and objects that he produced were unique - The Campbell’s Soup cans, dollar bills, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley and Coca-Cola bottles.
What I like about his self portraits is that he wasn’t afraid to put himself “out there.” His portraits of himself in drag are telling, especially during a time when it wasn’t talked much about like it is now. He believed other people could change their attitudes, but not “him” and he wasn’t going to care what others thought.
I like the technique silk-screen process mixed with high-key acrylic paint that he used. His silk screen of Liz Taylor for instance wasn’t “perfect.” He didn’t care that the lipstick bleeds onto her chin or that you can see that yellow paint through her black hair. To Warhol this wasn’t signs of poorly pulled silk screen image but welcome indications of how chance influenced his work.
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