Andy Warhol


Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1928 to immigrant parents.  He began creating art at a very young age.  In 1945 he entered the Carnegie Institute of Technology ( now Carnegie Mellon University) where he majored in pictorial design.  Upon graduation, Warhol moved to New York, where he found steady work as a commercial artist.  He worked as an illustrator for several magazines including Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and The New Yorker and did advertising and window displays for retail stores such as Bonwit Teller and shoe illustrations for  I. Miller that appeared in the New York Times every Sunday.   Prophetically, his first assignment was for Glamour magazine for an article titled "Success is a Job in New York".

In the 1950's, Warhol enjoyed a successful career as a commercial artist, winning several commendations from the Art Director's Club and the American Institute of Graphic Arts.  In these early years, he shortened his name to "Warhol".  In 1952, the artist had his first individual show at the Hugo Gallery, exhibiting Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote. In 1954 he began concentrating on establishing a career in fine art.  His drawings had a  delicately decorative quality to them as opposed to the Painterly quality of the popular Abstract Expressionism art.  Warhol began to experiment with the method used for creating his drawings, inventing a process that would allow him to transfer and repeat his images , with the later use of photo-silkscreening. His work was exhibited in several other venues during the 1950's, including his first group show at The Museum of Modern Art in 1956.

The 1960's was an extremely prolific decade for warhol.  Appropriating images from popular culture, Warhol created many paintings that remain icons of 20th-century art, such as the Campbell's Soup Cans, Disasters and Marilyns.  In addition to painting, Warhol made several 16-mm films which have become underground classics such as Chelsea Girls, Empire and Blow Job.  In 1968, Valerie Solanis, founder and sole member of SCUM ( Society for Cutting Up Men) walked into Warhol's studio, known as the Factory, and shot the artist.  The attack was nearly fatal.

At the start of the 1970's, Warhol began publishing Interview magazine and renewed his focus on painting.  Works created in this decade include Maos, Skulls, Hammer and Sickles, Torsos and Shadows and many commissioned portraits.  Warhol also published The Philosophy of Any Warhol ( From A to B and Back Again). where the artist acknowledges his ideas of the nature of art and how it is a potential moneymaking business.  Firmly established as a major 20th-century artist and international celebrity, Warhol exhibited his work extensively in museums and galleries around the world.

The artist began in the 1980s with the publication of POPism: The Warhol 60's and with exhibitions of Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century and the Retrospectives and Reversal series.  He also created two cable television shows, "Andy Warhol's TV" in 1982 and "Andy Warhol's Fifteen Minutes" for MTV in 1986.  His paintings from the 1980's include The Last Suppers, Rorschachs and, in a return to his first great theme of Pop, a series called Ads.  Warhol also engaged in a series of collaborations with younger artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente and Keith Haring.

Following routine gall bladder surgery, Andy Warhol died February 22, 1987.  After his burial in Pittsburgh, his friends and associates organized a memorial mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York that was attended by more than 2000 people.