Andy Warhol was born in 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA) as the son of Slovakian immigrants. He was named Andrew Warhola and even made a pop art statement by changing is name into a more popular sounding Andy Warhol. His father was a construction worker and died in an accident when Andy was only 13 years old.
Studies and Early Work (the 50's)
Warhol studied Commercial Art at the Commercial Institute of Technology, where he graduated in 1949 with a major in Pictorial Design. He then went to New York to work as an illustrator for magazines such as "Vogue", "The New Yorker" and "Harper's Bazaar". His work in general but his ink drawings of shoes in particular were remarked and adored by the general public and he soon became one of the most popular and succesful commercial illustrators. Meanwhile Andy Warhol also wanted to exhibit his work in fine art galleries. In 1952 Warhol had his first exhibition at the Hugo Gallery in New York.
Pop Art Icon - The Factory (the 60's)
In the sixties Andy Warhol started painting everyday, mundane objects like Campbell Soup Cans or Coca Cola Bottles. This soon got him very well known in the art scene of New York. In 1962 he moved into "The Factory" to make silk screen prints and mass produce art. He wanted to get rid of the difference between high and low art, and wanted to show the world that art can be found in everyday objects, such as magazine illustrations, comic books, advertising campaigns, etc.
The Factory was, typical for Warhol's style, a very chaotic place. He did not only produce his art there, but it was also a meeting place for all the creative people of New York. Musicians, writers, actors and fellow artists were always welcome to drop by. Besides all this, The Factory also served as a filmmaking studio. Warhol created more than 300 experimental movies, often confusing and somewhat pornographic. His first movie was called "Sleep" and showed nothing but a man sleeping for 6 hours.
In July of 1968 Warhol was shot in the stomache by Valerie Solanis who had worked occasionally for Warhol. When she was arrested the next day, she said: "He had too much control over my life." Warhol was seriously injured, survived, but had to wear a bandage around his waist for the rest of his life.
70's and 80's
After the assassination attempt Warhol made a radical turn in his process of art production. In stead of mass producing his art, he now spent most of his time making individual portraits of USA's rich and famous, such as Mick Jagger, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. He also started a magazine called "Interview", which is still published today, and even opened his own night club. In 1975 he published his book "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol". Warhol spent his latter years promoting other pop artists such as Keith Haring and Robert Mapplethorpe.
Andy Warhol died February 22, 1987 after a gall bladder operation. Their was no big risk in this operation, but complications arose and Warhol passed away. More than 2000 people, including many celebrities, attended his funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
The Personality of a Pop Artist
As many artists, Warhol was a controversial man with a bizarre personality. Warhol was a homosexual. He was obsessed by the ambition of getting rich and famous and knew exactly how he would reach this.
In 1987, the Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts was established.
In May 1994, the Andy Warhol Museum opened in his home town Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania (USA).