born Andrew Warhola;
August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) was an American artist, film director, and producer who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. 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).
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Warhol initially pursued a successful career as a commercial illustrator. After exhibiting his work in several galleries in the late 1950s, he began to receive recognition as an influential and controversial artist. His New York studio, The Factory, became a well-known gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywoodcelebrities, and wealthy patrons. He promoted a collection of personalities known as Warhol superstars, and is credited with inspiring the widely used expression "15 minutes of fame". In the late 1960s he managed and produced the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground and founded Interview magazine. He authored numerous books, including The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and Popism: The Warhol Sixties. He lived openly as a gay man before the gay liberation movement. In June 1968, he was almost killed by radical feminist Valerie Solanas who shot him inside his studio.
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. Many of his creations are very collectible and highly valuable. The highest price ever paid for a Warhol painting is US$105 million for a 1963 canvas titled Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster); his works include some of the most expensive paintings ever sold. A 2009 article in The Economist described Warhol as the "bellwetherof the art market".
Warhol's early career was dedicated to commercial and advertising art, where his first commission had been to draw shoes for Glamour magazine in the late 1940s. In the 1950s, Warhol worked as a designer for shoe manufacturer Israel Miller.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.
Warhol was an early adopter of the silk screen printmaking process as a technique for making paintings. A young Warhol was taught silk screen printmaking techniques by Max Arthur Cohn at his graphic arts business in Manhattan. 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, a method that prefigures his 1960s silk-screen canvas. In his book Popism: The Warhol Sixties, Warhol writes: "When you do something exactly wrong, you always turn up something."
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 dollar bill series, and for Big Campbell's Soup Can with Can Opener (Vegetable), of 1962 which initiated Warhol's most sustained motif, the soup can.
He began exhibiting his work during the 1950s. He held exhibitions at the Hugo Gallery and the Bodley Gallery in New York City; in California, his first West Coast gallery exhibition was on July 9, 1962, in the Ferus Gallery of Los Angeles with Campbell's Soup Cans. The exhibition marked his West Coast debut of pop art. Andy Warhol's first New York solo pop art exhibition was hosted at Eleanor Ward's Stable GalleryNovember 6–24, 1962. The exhibit included the works Marilyn Diptych, 100 Soup Cans, 100 Coke Bottles, and 100 Dollar Bills. At the Stable Gallery exhibit, the artist met for the first time poet John Giorno who would star in Warhol's first film, Sleep, in 1963.
It was during the 1960s that Warhol began to make paintings of iconic American objects such as dollar bills, mushroom clouds, electric chairs, Campbell's Soup Cans, Coca-Cola bottles, celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando, Troy Donahue, Muhammad Ali, and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as newspaper headlines or photographs of police dogs attacking African-American protesters during the Birmingham campaign in the civil rights movement. During these years, he founded his studio, "The Factory" and gathered about him a wide range of artists, writers, musicians, and underground celebrities. His work became popular and controversial. Warhol had this to say about Coca-Cola:
What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca-Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca-Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca-Cola, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.
Campbell's Soup I (1968)
New York City's Museum of Modern Art hosted a symposium on pop art in December 1962 during which artists such as Warhol were attacked for "capitulating" to consumerism. Critics were scandalized by Warhol's open embrace of market culture. This symposium set the tone for Warhol's reception.
A pivotal event was the 1964 exhibit The American Supermarket, a show held in Paul Bianchini's Upper East Side gallery. The show was presented as a typical small supermarket environment, except that everything in it—from the produce, canned goods, meat, posters on the wall, etc.—was created by prominent pop artists of the time, among them were sculpture Claes Oldenburg, Mary Inman and Bob Watts. Warhol designed a $12 paper shopping bag—plain white with a red Campbell's soup can. His painting of a can of a Campbell's soup cost $1,500 while each autographed can sold for 3 for $18, $6.50 each. The exhibit was one of the first mass events that directly confronted the general public with both pop art and the perennial question of what art is.
Warhol between 1966 and 1977, 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, sculpture, 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 film-maker 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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