Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol certainly doesn't need particularly lengthy and elaborate introductions. Born Andrew Warhola Jr., he was an American painter, graphic artist, illustrator, sculptor, screenwriter, film producer, television producer, director, cinematographer, and actor, a prominent figure in the Pop art movement and one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Let's honor him and his visionary art here on our Apparel Wall, where we celebrate the most influential artists of contemporary and modern art. 

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Andy Warhol (Aug 6, 1928 – Feb 22, 1987) was an American visual artist, film director and producer.

A leading figure in the pop art movement, Warhol is considered one of the most important American artists of the second half of the 20th century. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, advertising, and celebrity culture that flourished by the 1960s, and span a variety of media, including painting, silkscreening, photography, film, and sculpture. Some of his best-known works include the silkscreen paintings Campbell's Soup Cans (1962) and Marilyn Diptych (1962), the experimental films Empire (1964) and Chelsea Girls (1966), and the multimedia events known as the Exploding Plastic Inevitable (1966–67).


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15 minutes of fame

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Warhol initially pursued a successful career as a commercial illustrator in the 1950s. After exhibiting his work in art galleries, he began to receive recognition as an influential and controversial artist in the 1960s. His New York studio, The Factory, became a well-known gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy patrons. He directed and produced several underground films starring a collection of personalities known as Warhol superstars, and is credited with inspiring the widely used expression "15 minutes of fame." Warhol managed and produced the experimental rock band the Velvet Underground. He also founded Interview and authored numerous books, including The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and Popism: The Warhol Sixties.

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Warhol has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, books, and feature and documentary films.



The Andy Warhol Museum in his native city of Pittsburgh, which holds an extensive permanent collection of art and archives, is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist. Warhol has been described as the "bellwether of the art market". Many of his creations are very collectible and highly valuable. His works include some of the most expensive paintings ever sold. In 2013, a 1963 serigraph titled Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) sold for $105 million. In 2022, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964) sold for $195 million, which is the most expensive work of art sold at auction by an American artist.




Warhol was born on August 6, 1928, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the fourth child of Ondrej Warhola (Americanized as Andrew Warhola Sr.; 1889–1942) and Julia Warhola (née Zavacká, 1891–1972), whose first child was born in their homeland of Austria-Hungary and died before their move to the US. An infant Warhol (right) with his mother, Julia, and his brother, John (left); dated c. 1930. His parents were working-class Lemko emigrants from Mikó, Austria-Hungary (now called Miková, located in today's northeastern Slovakia). Warhol's father emigrated to the United States in 1914, and his mother joined him in 1921, after the death of Warhol's grandparents. Warhol's father worked in a coal mine. The family lived at 55 Beelen Street and later at 3252 Dawson Street in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh.



The family was Ruthenian Catholic and attended St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church. Warhol had two elder brothers—Pavol (Paul), the eldest, was born before the family emigrated; John was born in Pittsburgh. Pavol's son, James Warhola, became a successful children's book illustrator. In third grade, Warhol had Sydenham's chorea (also known as St. Vitus' Dance), the nervous system disease that causes involuntary movements of the extremities, which is believed to be a complication of scarlet fever which causes skin pigmentation blotchiness. At times when he was confined to bed, he drew, listened to the radio and collected pictures of movie stars around his bed. Warhol later described this period as very important in the development of his personality, skill-set and preferences. When Warhol was 13, his father died in an accident. As a teenager, Warhol graduated from Schenley High School in 1945, and also won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award.



After graduating from high school, he enrolled in the Carnegie Institute of Technology, now Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he studied commercial art. During his time there, Warhol joined the campus Modern Dance Club and Beaux Arts Society. He also served as art director of the student art magazine, Cano, illustrating a cover in 1948 and a full-page interior illustration in 1949. These are believed to be his first two published artworks. Warhol earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in pictorial design in 1949. Later that year, he moved to New York City and began a career in magazine illustration and advertising.


Haring graduates high school and enrolls in the Ivy School of Professional Art, Pittsburgh, a commercial arts school. Haring soon realizes he has little interest in being a commercial graphic artist and after two semesters, drops out. He continues to study and draw on his own.

Warhol's early career was dedicated to commercial and advertising art, where his first commission had been to draw shoes for Glamour magazine in 1949. In the 1950s, Warhol worked as a designer for shoe manufacturer Israel Miller.



While working in the shoe industry, Warhol developed his "blotted line" technique, applying ink to paper and then blotting the ink while still wet, which was akin to a printmaking process on the most rudimentary scale. His use of tracing paper and ink allowed him to repeat the basic image and also to create endless variations on the theme. American photographer John Coplans recalled that

"Nobody drew shoes the way Andy did. He somehow gave each shoe a temperament of its own, a sort of sly, Toulouse-Lautrec kind of sophistication, but the shape and the style came through accurately and the buckle was always in the right place. The kids in the apartment [which Andy shared in New York – note by Coplans] noticed that the vamps on Andy's shoe drawings kept getting longer and longer but [Israel] Miller didn't mind. Miller loved them."


In 1952, Alexander Iolas is credited as discovering Andy Warhol, and he organized first solo show at the Hugo Gallery in New York, and although that show was not well received, by 1956, he was included in his first group exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1956, Warhol traveled around the world with his friend, production designer Charles Lisanby, studying art and culture in several countries. Warhol's "whimsical" ink drawings of shoe advertisements figured in some of his earliest showings at the Bodley Gallery in New York in 1957.



Warhol habitually used the expedient of tracing photographs projected with an epidiascope. Using prints by Edward Wallowitch, his "first boyfriend", the photographs would undergo a subtle transformation during Warhol's often cursory tracing of contours and hatching of shadows. Warhol used Wallowitch's photograph Young Man Smoking a Cigarette (c. 1956), for a 1958 design for a book cover he submitted to Simon and Schuster for the Walter Ross pulp novel The Immortal, and later used others for his series of paintings. With the rapid expansion of the record industry, RCA Records hired Warhol, along with another freelance artist, Sid Maurer, to design album covers and promotional materials.





Warhol was an early adopter of the silk screen printmaking process as a technique for making paintings. In 1961 Warhol purchased a townhouse at 1342 Lexington Avenue in Carnegie Hill, which he also used as his art studio. In 1962, Warhol was taught silk screen printmaking techniques by Max Arthur Cohn at his graphic arts business in Manhattan. In his book Popism: The Warhol Sixties, Warhol writes:

"When you do something exactly wrong, you always turn up something."


In May 1962, Warhol was featured in an article in Time with his painting Big Campbell's Soup Can with Can Opener (Vegetable) (1962), which initiated his most sustained motif, the Campbell's soup can. That painting became Warhol's first to be shown in a museum when it was exhibited at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford in July 1962. On July 9, 1962, Warhol's exhibition opened at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles with Campbell's Soup Cans, marking his West Coast debut of pop art.


Gold Marilyn

In November 1962, Warhol had an exhibition at Eleanor Ward's Stable Gallery in New York. The exhibit included the works Gold Marilyn, eight of the classic "Marilyn" series also named "Flavor Marilyns", Marilyn Diptych, 100 Soup Cans, 100 Coke Bottles, and 100 Dollar Bills. Gold Marilyn, was bought by the architect Philip Johnson and donated to the Museum of Modern Art. At the exhibit, Warhol met poet John Giorno, who would star in Warhol's first film, Sleep (1964).



Campbell's Soup I (1968) In December 1962, New York City's Museum of Modern Art hosted a symposium on pop art, during which artists such as Warhol were attacked for "capitulating" to consumerism. Critics were appalled by Warhol's open acceptance of market culture, which set the tone for his reception. In early 1963, Warhol rented his first studio, an old firehouse at 159 East 87th Street. At this studio, he created his Elvis series, which included Eight Elvises (1963) and Triple Elvis (1963). These portraits along with a series of Elizabeth Taylor portraits were shown at his second exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. Later that year, Warhol relocated his studio to East 47th Street, which would turn into The Factory. The Factory became a popular gathering spot for a wide range of artists, writers, musicians and underground celebrities.

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Andy Warhol's Silver Flotations
is a portrait of Warhol's famous installation
of floating silver helium-filled balloons
at the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1966.


In 1967 Warhol established Factory Additions for his printmaking and publishing enterprise.

Warhol with his dachshund Archie in 1973, photographed by Jack Mitchell As an advertisement illustrator in the 1950s, Warhol used assistants to increase his productivity. Collaboration would remain a defining (and controversial) aspect of his working methods throughout his career; this was particularly true in the 1960s. One of the most important collaborators during this period was Gerard Malanga. Malanga assisted the artist with the production of silkscreens, films, sculptures and other works at The Factory, Warhol's aluminum foil-and-silver-paint-lined studio on 47th Street (later moved to Broadway). Other members of Warhol's Factory crowd included Freddie Herko, Ondine, Ronald Tavel, Mary Woronov, Billy Name, and Brigid Berlin (from whom he apparently got the idea to tape-record his phone conversations).





During the 1960s, Warhol also groomed a retinue of bohemian and counterculture eccentrics upon whom he bestowed the designation "superstars", including Nico, Joe Dallesandro, Edie Sedgwick, Viva, Ultra Violet, Holly Woodlawn, Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling. These people all participated in the Factory films, and some—like Berlin—remained friends with Warhol until his death.





Important figures in the New York underground art/cinema world, such as writer John Giorno and filmmaker Jack Smith, also appear in Warhol films (many premiering at the New Andy Warhol Garrick Theatre and 55th Street Playhouse) of the 1960s, revealing Warhol's connections to a diverse range of artistic scenes during this time. Less well known was his support and collaboration with several teenagers during this era, who would achieve prominence later in life, including writer David Dalton, photographer Stephen Shore and artist Bibbe Hansen (mother of pop musician Beck).

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1968 assassination attempt

On June 3, 1968, radical feminist writer Valerie Solanas shot Warhol and Mario Amaya, art critic and curator, at The Factory. Before the shooting, Solanas had been a marginal figure in the Factory scene. She authored the SCUM Manifesto, a separatist feminist tract that advocated the elimination of men; and appeared in the 1968 Warhol film I, a Man. Earlier on the day of the attack, Solanas had been turned away from the Factory after asking for the return of a script she had given to Warhol. The script had apparently been misplaced. Warhol and Amaya were taken to Columbus Hospital in an ambulance.



Amaya received only minor injuries and was released from the hospital later the same day. Warhol was seriously wounded by the attack and barely survived. Jed Johnson, one of the helpers at the Factory, had been in the elevator with Warhol and Solanas as they went up to the Factory. During Warhol's 2-month hospitalization, Johnson visited him regularly and they developed a deep relationship. Subsequently, Johnson moved in with Warhol to help him recuperate and care for his mother Julia Warhola. Warhol had physical effects for the rest of his life, including being required to wear a surgical corset. The shooting had a profound effect on Warhol's life and art. Solanas was arrested the day after the assault, after turning herself in to the police. By way of explanation, she said that Warhol "had too much control over my life". She was subsequently diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and eventually sentenced to three years under the control of the Department of Corrections. After the shooting, the Factory scene heavily increased its security, and for many the "Factory 60s" ended ("The superstars from the old Factory days didn't come around to the new Factory much"). Warhol had this to say about the attack:

"Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there—I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it's the way things happen in life that's unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it's like watching television—you don't feel anything. Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television."


The channels switch, but it's all television. In 1969, Warhol and British journalist John Wilcock founded Interview magazine.





Compared to the success and scandal of Warhol's work in the 1960s, the early 1970s were much quieter years, as he became more entrepreneurial. He was generally regarded as quiet, shy and a meticulous observer. Art critic Robert Hughes called him "the white mole of Union Square"



As Warhol continued to forge into filmmaking, he had established himself as "one of the most celebrated and well-known pop art figure to emerge from the sixties." The Pasadena Art Museum in Pasadena organized a major retrospective of his work in 1970, which traveled in the United States and abroad.



In 1971, the retrospective was mounted at the Tate Gallery in London and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Warhol staged his first and only theater production, Andy Warhol's Pork in 1971. In 1971, Warhol and his collaborator Paul Morrissey purchased Eothen, an oceanfront estate in Montauk, New York on Long Island. The Rolling Stones, Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, and John Lennon were among the estate's notable guests. Between 1972 and 1973, Warhol created a series of portraits of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong.



In 1974, Warhol and his longtime partner Jed Johnson moved from his Lexington Avenue home to a townhouse at 57 East 66th Street in Lenox Hill. In 1975, he published The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (1975). An idea expressed in the book: "Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art." President Jimmy Carter and Warhol in 1977 In 1976, Warhol and painter Jamie Wyeth were commissioned to paint each other's portraits by the Coe Kerr Gallery in Manhattan. In June 1977, Andy was invited to a special reception honoring the "Inaugural Artists" who had contributed prints to the Jimmy Carter presidential campaign. In 1977, Warhol was commissioned by art collector Richard Weisman to create Athletes, ten portraits consisting of the leading athletes of the day.



The opening of Studio 54 in 1977, ushered in a new era in New York City nightlife.




Warhol would often socialize at Studio 54 and take note of the drug-fueled activities that his friends engaged in at parties. In 1977, Warhol began taking nude photographs of men in various poses and performing sexual acts that became "landscapes" for what became known as the Torsos and Sex Parts series. Most of the men were street hustlers and male prostitutes brought to the Factory by Halston's lover Victor Hugo. This caused tension in Warhol's relationship with Johnson who did not approve of his friendship with Hugo.

"When Studio 54 opened things changed with Andy. That was New York when it was at the height of its most decadent period, and I didn't take part. I never liked that scene ... Andy was just wasting his time, and it was really upsetting. ... He just spent his time with he most ridiculous people,"


Johnson said. According to former Interview editor Bob Colacello, Warhol devoted much of his time to rounding up new, rich patrons for portrait commissions—including Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, his wife Empress Farah Pahlavi, his sister Princess Ashraf Pahlavi, Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli, John Lennon, Diana Ross and Brigitte Bardot.


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Warhol had a re-emergence of critical and financial success in the 1980s, partially due to his affiliation and friendships with a number of prolific younger artists, who were dominating the "bull market" of 1980s New York art: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, David Salle and other so-called Neo-Expressionists, as well as members of the Transavantgarde movement in Europe, including Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi.



Warhol also earned street credibility and graffiti artist Fab Five Freddy paid homage to Warhol by painting an entire train with Campbell soup cans. Warhol was also being criticized for becoming merely a "business artist". Critics panned his 1980 exhibition Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan, which Warhol—who was uninterested in Judaism and Jews—had described in his diary as "They're going to sell." In hindsight, however, some critics have come to view Warhol's superficiality and commerciality as "the most brilliant mirror of our times", contending that "Warhol had captured something irresistible about the zeitgeist of American culture in the 1970s." In 1981, Warhol worked on a project with Peter Sellars and Lewis Allen that would create a traveling stage show called, A No Man Show, with a life-sized animatronic robot in the exact image of Warhol.



The Andy Warhol Robot would then be able to read Warhol's diaries as a theatrical production. The play would be based on Warhol's books The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and Exposures. Andy was quoted as saying, "I'd like to be a machine, wouldn't you?" Warhol also had an appreciation for intense Hollywood glamour. He once said:

"I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They're so beautiful. Everything's plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic."


Warhol occasionally walked the fashion runways and did product endorsements, represented by Zoli Agency and later Ford Models. Before the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics, he teamed with 15 other artists, including David Hockney and Cy Twombly, and contributed a Speed Skater print to the Art and Sport collection. The Speed Skater was used for the official Sarajevo Winter Olympics poster.



In 1984, Vanity Fair commissioned Warhol to produce a portrait of Prince, to accompany an article that celebrated the success of Purple Rain and its accompanying movie. Referencing the many celebrity portraits produced by Warhol across his career, Orange Prince (1984) was created using a similar composition to the Marilyn "Flavors" series from 1962, among some of Warhol's first celebrity portraits. Prince is depicted in a pop color palette commonly used by Warhol, in bright orange with highlights of bright green and blue.



The facial features and hair are screen-printed in black over the orange background. In September 1985, Warhol's joint exhibition with Basquiat, Paintings, opened to negative reviews at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery. That month, despite apprehension from Warhol, his silkscreen series Reigning Queens was shown at the Leo Castelli Gallery. In the Andy Warhol Diaries, Warhol wrote: "They were supposed to be only for Europe—nobody here cares about royalty and it'll be another bad review." In January 1987, Warhol traveled to Milan for the opening of his last exhibition, Last Supper, at the Palazzo delle Stelline. The next month, Warhol modeled with jazz musician Miles Davis for Koshin Satoh's fashion show at the Tunnel in New York City on February 17, 1987.



Warhol died in Manhattan at 6:32 a.m. on February 22, 1987, at age 58. According to news reports, he had been making a good recovery from gallbladder surgery at New York Hospital before dying in his sleep from a sudden post-operative irregular heartbeat.

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