Andy Warhol

Even before he started making art for galleries, Andrew Warhola, who was born on August 6, 1928, was the most successful and well-paid commercial illustrator in New York. His screen-printed pictures of Marilyn Monroe, soup cans, and dramatic newspaper items became instantly associated with Pop art. He rose from the obscurity and poverty of an Eastern European immigrant family in Pittsburgh to become a captivating magnet for bohemian New York and, eventually, a spot in the High Society circles. For many, his rise reflects one of Pop art’s goals: to bring common styles and subjects into fine art’s exclusive salons. Today we celebrate this popular icon and his accomplishments.

Fast Facts

Full Name:

Andrew Warhola

Nickname:

Drella, Andy

Birth date:

August 6, 1928

Death date:

February 22, 1987 (age 58)

Zodiac Sign:

Leo

Height:

5' 10"

Net Worth:

$220 million

Background

Andy Warhol was born on August 6, 1928, in a working-class area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Czechoslovakian immigrant parents Ondrej and Ulja (Julia) Warhola. John and Paul were his two older brothers. Andy was a bright and inventive child. At the age of nine, his mother, a casual artist herself, fostered his artistic desires by giving him his first camera. Warhol was known to suffer from a neurological ailment that kept him at home for lengthy periods, and he would listen to the radio and collect images of movie stars surrounding his bed during these times. He later said that his early exposure to current events impacted his fascination with pop culture and celebrities. When he was 14, his father died, leaving the family money to be used exclusively for higher education for one of the boys. The family thought that Andy would gain the most from a college education.

Warhol joined the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) after graduating from high school at the age of 16 in 1945. He traveled to New York City shortly after graduation, in 1949, to work as a commercial illustrator. His first assignment was for “Glamour Magazine,” where he wrote an article headlined “Success is a Job in New York.” Throughout the 1950s, Warhol maintained a successful commercial illustration career. With Fifteen Drawings Based on Truman Capote’s Writings, he had his first solo exhibition at the Hugo Gallery in New York in 1952. He presented his work at a variety of venues in New York City, most notably at the Museum of Modern Art, where he took part in his first group show in 1956. Warhol took notice of new rising artists, particularly Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, whose work motivated him to broaden his artistic experimentation. He began his most prolific era in September 1960, after relocating to a townhouse at 1342 Lexington Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He had no specific studio space in his former apartment, which he shared with his mother, but now he had plenty of space to work. In 1962, he proposed to the Department of Real Estate $150 per month to rent a neighboring decommissioned fire station on East 87th Street. He was granted permission and operated this room alongside his Lexington Avenue site until 1964.

Keeping with the topic of commercials and comic strips, his paintings in the early 1960s were mostly based on illustrated imagery from printed media and graphic design. Warhol used an opaque projector to extend the images onto a big canvas on the wall to produce his enormous-scale graphic canvases. Working freehand, he would then outline the image with paint directly onto the canvas, without a pencil drawing underneath. As a result, Warhol’s early 1961 pieces are often more painterly. He began work on his Campbell’s Soup Can paintings in late 1961. The series used a variety of techniques, but the majority were created by projecting source photos onto canvas, outlining them with a pencil, and then painting over them. In this method, Warhol was able to conceal the majority of the artist’s hands.

In 1962, Warhol began experimenting with silkscreening. Transferring an image onto a permeable screen, then applying paint or ink using a rubber squeegee, was the stencil method. This was another method of painting while erasing signs of his hand; similarly to the stencil procedures he used to make the Campbell’s Soup Can images, this also allowed him to repeat the theme numerous times across the same image, producing a serial image reminiscent of mass production. His early silkscreen paintings were inspired by the front and back faces of dollar bills, and he went on to use this technique to produce several series of representations of various consumer goods and commercial items. In the autumn of 1962, he began making photo-silkscreen works, which involved copying a picture onto porous silkscreens. Baseball (1962) was his first, and the ones after it frequently used commonplace or horrific images culled from tabloid newspaper photographs of vehicle collisions and civil rights protests, as well as money and consumer household products. Warhol’s fascination with Hollywood lasted his entire life, as evidenced by his renowned portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. He also experimented with installations, most famously at the Stable Gallery in New York in 1964, where he re-created Brillo boxes in their original size and then screen printed their label designs onto plywood blocks. In 1963, Warhol began working with film to continue his research of many mediums.

After an assassination attempt on his life by Valerie Solanas, a friend, and radical feminist, in 1968, he chose to separate himself from his unorthodox entourage. At this point, the Factory scene of the 1960s came to an end. Following that, Warhol sought company among New York’s upper crust, and for most of the 1970s, his work consisted of commissioned portraits based on Polaroid prints. His Mao series, which was developed in response to President Richard Nixon’s visit to China, is the most notable exception. Critics perceived Warhol as pimping his artistic talent, and his later phases as one of decline because his portraits lacked the beauty and commercial appeal of his earlier works. Warhol, on the other hand, considered financial success as a key goal.

Career timeline

1962
He Painted the Campbell's Soup Can

When Muriel Latow, a gallery owner and interior designer, recommends that Warhol paint items that people use every day, he came up with the idea of painting soup cans.

1963
He Made His First Film

“Sleep” is one of his early films and his first attempt at durational filmmaking, which would become one of his trademark styles.

1966
The Velvet Underground

In 1966, he produced and art directed the Velvet Underground's first album, "The Velvet Underground & Nico."

1973
Time Capsule

In 1973, Warhol began storing material from his daily life in plain cardboard boxes dubbed Time Capsules, including correspondence, newspapers, mementos, childhood things, and even old plane tickets and food.

Why We Love Andy Warhol

  1. He was exceptional at his work

    Andy Warhol was at the front of the list. Although similar work was being done by artists such as Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein, Warhol went further. His work grew increasingly technical as a result of his approach and style, to the point that practically every detail of his art and process resembled the hardware-like world surrounding him in New York.

  2. He was a huge revolution in the art world

    Warhol grasped the media's ideology and capitalized on it through his extraordinary ability to draw attention, or by being "in all the right places at all the right times," in the words of curator Kynaston McShine. Furthermore, Warhol was with the right people at the right times, and he spoke the ideal, snappy thing at the appropriate times.

  3. His works were daring and ahead of their time

    Being gay was outlawed and unspoken of in many parts of the country during the time Warhol made his homoerotic sketches, paintings, and films. For the younger museum audience, some of the gay imagery may not register how "out there" it would have been in its own time. People are now accustomed to seeing gay celebrities, including presidential contenders.

5 Surprising Facts

  1. He had three factories

    Warhol's 'Factory' is well-known, yet between 1962 and 1984, his New York City studio was relocated three times.

  2. He almost got assasinated

    A radical feminist named Valeria Jean Solanas entered the Factory on June 3, 1968, and shot Warhol, eventually turning herself in and being diagnosed with paranoid Schizophrenia.

  3. The Warhol Diaries

    Following his near-death experience in 1968, he began the laborious task of transcribing minor details from his life: the ordinary, the semi-important, and the completely trivial.

  4. The Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Art

    the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts was founded to promote the growth and development of the creative arts.

  5. Drag Culture

    Drag queens were frequent visitors to his Factory and were an essential part of his art machine.

Andy Warhol FAQs

What disorder did And Warhol have?

Warhol suffered from Sydenham chorea as a youngster, a neurological illness characterized by uncontrollable movements known as St. Vitus dance.

What is Andy Warhol's style of art?

His artistic styles include Pop art and Modern art.

What inspired Andy Warhol’s work?

Andy changed his name from Warhola to Warhol in the early 1950s and chose to break out on his own as a serious artist. His commercial art experience and expertise, mixed with his absorption in American popular culture, impacted his most noteworthy work.

Andy Warhol’s birthday dates

YearDateDay
2022August 6Saturday
2023August 6Sunday
2024August 6Tuesday
2025August 6Wednesday
2026August 6Thursday

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