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Andy Warhol, The King of Pop Art: Biography and Curiosities

Andy Warhol, su biografía, obra y estilo artístico.

American artist and filmmaker Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in 1928. For years there has been quite a bit of confusion about where and when Andy Warhol was born, but according to Andy’s two older brothers and the birth certificate filed in Pittsburgh in 1945, he was born on August 6 in Pittsburgh.

His childhood

Andy was the third child of Czechoslovakian immigrant parents, Ondrej and Ulja (Julia) Warhola, in a working class neighborhood in Pittsburgh. He had two older brothers, John and Paul. As a child, Andy was intelligent and creative. His mother, an occasional artist, encouraged his artistic impulses by giving him his first camera at the age of nine.

Warhol was known to suffer from a nervous disorder that often kept him at home and, during these long periods, he would listen to the radio and collect pictures of movie stars around his bed. It was this exposure to current events at a young age that, he later said, shaped his obsession with pop culture and celebrities.

When he was 14 years old, his father passed away and left the family money for one of the boys to use for his higher education. The family decided that Andy would benefit the most from a college education.

His beginnings in the art world

After graduating from high school at the age of 16 in 1945, Warhol attended Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), where he received formal training in pictorial design. Shortly after graduating in 1949, he moved to New York, where he worked as a commercial illustrator.

His first project was for Glamour magazine for an article entitled “Success is a New York Job”. Throughout the 1950s, Warhol continued his successful career in commercial illustration, working for several well-known magazines, including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and The New Yorker. He also did advertising and window displays for local New York stores.

His work with I. Miller & Sons, for which his whimsical blurred-line advertisements attracted particular attention, earned him some local notoriety, winning several awards from the Art Director’s Club and the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

In the early 1950s, Andy shortened his name from Warhola to Warhol, and decided to strike out on his own as a serious artist. His experience and expertise in commercial art, combined with his immersion in American popular culture, influenced his most notable work.

In 1952, he exhibited Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote in his first solo exhibition at the Hugo Gallery in New York. Although he exhibited at various venues in New York City, the highlight was his participation at the Museum of Modern Art, where he participated in his first group exhibition in 1956. Warhol took notice of emerging new artists, greatly admiring the work of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, which inspired him to expand his own artistic experimentation.

In 1960, Warhol began using advertisements and comic strips in his paintings. These works, examples of early pop art, were characterized by a more expressive, painterly style that included clearly recognizable brushstrokes, and were slightly influenced by abstract expressionism.

However, later works, such as his Brillo Boxes (1964), would mark a direct rebellion against abstract expressionism by almost completely eliminating any trace of the artist’s hand.

His period of artistic maturity

In 1962 he offered the Department of Real Estate $150 per month to rent a nearby obsolete firehouse on East 87th Street. He was granted permission and used this space along with the Lexington Avenue space until 1964.

In keeping with the theme of advertisements and comics, his paintings from the early part of the 1960s were based primarily on illustrated images from print media and graphic design. To create his large-scale graphic canvases, Warhol used an opaque projector to enlarge the images on a large canvas on the wall. Then, working freehand, he would trace the image with paint directly onto the canvas, with no pencil to trace underneath.

As a result, Warhol’s early 1961 works are generally more painterly.

In late 1961, Warhol began painting Campbell’s soup cans. The series employed many different techniques, but most were created by projecting the original images onto canvas, tracing them with a pencil and then applying the paint. In this way, Warhol eliminated most signs of the artist’s hand.

In 1962 Warhol began to explore silkscreen printing. This silkscreen process involved transferring an image onto a porous screen and then applying paint or ink with a squeegee. This involved another way of painting by removing traces of his hand; like the stenciling processes he had used to create the Campbell’s soup can paintings, it also allowed him to repeat the motif several times on the same image, producing a serial image suggestive of mass production. Often, he would first lay down a layer of colors that complemented the screen-printed image after applying it.

His early screen-printed paintings were based on the front and back of dollar bills, and he later created several series of images of various consumer goods and commercial items using this method.

He depicted shipping and handling labels, Coca-Cola bottles, coffee can labels, Brillo soap box labels, matchbook covers and cars. Beginning in the fall of 1962 he also began to produce works in photographic silkscreen, which consisted of transferring a photographic image onto porous silkscreens.

His first work was Baseball (1962), and those that followed often employed banal or shocking images derived from tabloid newspaper photographs of traffic accidents and civil rights riots, money and domestic consumer products.

In 1964 Warhol moved to 231 East 47th Street, calling it “The Factory.” After achieving moderate success as an artist, he was able to hire several assistants to help him make his works. This marked a turning point in his career. Now, with the help of his assistants, he could take his hand off the canvas more decisively and create repetitive, mass-produced images that seemed empty of meaning and begged the question, “What makes art art art?” This was an idea first introduced by Marcel Duchamp, whom Warhol admired.

Warhol had a lifelong fascination with Hollywood, as evidenced by his series of iconic images of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. He also expanded his medium to installations, most notably at the Stable Gallery in New York in 1964, replicating Brillo boxes in their actual size and then screen-printing his label designs on blocks made of plywood.

Wanting to continue exploring different media, Warhol began experimenting with film in 1963. Two years later, after a trip to Paris for an exhibition of his work, he announced that he would retire from painting to focus exclusively on film.

Although he never quite fulfilled this intention, he produced many films, mostly starring what he called the Warholstars, an eccentric and eclectic group of friends who frequented the Factory and were known for their unconventional lifestyle.

He created approximately 600 films between 1963 and 1976, ranging in length from a few minutes to 24 hours. He also developed a project called The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, or EPI, in 1967. The EPI was a multimedia production that combined the rock band The Velvet Underground with film projections, light and dance, culminating in a sensory performance art experience.

Warhol had also self-published artist’s books since the 1950s, but his first mass-produced book, Andy Warhol’s Index, was published in 1967. He subsequently published other books and founded Interview magazine with his friend Gerard Malanga in 1969. The magazine is dedicated to celebrities and is still in production today.

After an attempt on her life in 1968 by a well-known radical feminist, Valerie Solanas, she decided to distance herself from her unconventional environment. This marked the end of the Factory scene of the 1960s.

Warhol subsequently sought company in New York high society, and for most of the 1970s his work consisted of commissioned portraits derived from printed Polaroid photographs. The most notable exception is his famous Mao series, made as a commentary on President Richard Nixon’s visit to China.

Lacking the glamour and commercial appeal of his early portraits, critics felt that Warhol was prostituting his artistic talent and considered this later period as one of decline. However, Warhol considered financial success an important goal. By this time, he had made the successful shift from commercial artist to business artist.

Andy Warhol’s last years and death

In the late 1970s and 1980s, Warhol returned to painting and produced works that often bordered on abstraction.

His serie called Oxidation Painting, made by urinating on a copper paint canvas, recalled the immediacy of the Abstract Expressionists and the rawness of Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings.

By the 1980s, Warhol had regained much of his critical notoriety, due in part to his collaboration with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Francesco Clemente, two much younger, avant-garde artists. And, in the last years of his life, Warhol turned to religious themes; his version of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper is especially well known. In these works, Warhol fused the sacred and the irreverent by juxtaposing enlarged brand logos with images of Christ and his Apostles.

After suffering post-operative complications from a routine gall bladder operation, Warhol died on February 22, 1987 at the age of 58 and was buried in his hometown of Pittsburgh. His funeral was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and was attended by more than 2,000 people.

Andy Warhol’s artistic legacy

Andy Warhol was one of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century, creating some of the most recognizable images ever produced.

Challenging the idealistic visions and personal emotions conveyed by abstraction, Warhol embraced popular culture and commercial processes to produce works that appealed to the general public. He was one of the founding fathers of the Pop Art movement, expanding on Duchamp’s ideas by challenging the very definition of art.

His artistic risks and constant experimentation with subject matter and media made him a pioneer in almost every form of visual art. His unconventional sense of style and celebrity milieu helped him achieve the megastar status to which he aspired.

Warhol’s will provided for his estate to fund the Warhol Foundation for the Advancement of the Visual Arts, which was created that same year. Through the joint efforts of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Institution and the Dia Center for the Arts, the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, opened in 1994, housing an extensive collection of Warhol’s works.

Interior del Museo de Andy Warhol en Pensilvania
Interior del Museo de Andy Warhol

FAQ about Andy Warhol

Who was Andy Warhol?

Andy Warhol was part of the pop art movement. He was born Andrew Warhola in 1928 in Pennsylvania. His parents were from a part of Europe that is now part of Slovakia. They moved to New York in the 1920s.

His first job was illustrating advertisements in fashion magazines. He is now known as one of the most influential artists in history.

Warhol was gay and expressed his identity through his life and art. During his lifetime, being gay was illegal in the United States.

What is Warhol famous for?

He is famous for exploring popular culture in his work. Popular culture is anything from Coca Cola to pop stars to clothes that people like.

He did a print of Campbell’s soup, a very popular soup brand in the United States. He said he ate Campbell’s tomato soup every day for lunch for 20 years.

What is Pop Art or Pop Art?

Pop art consists of making art inspired by things from popular culture.

What techniques did Andy Warhol use in his works?

Warhol liked to make prints because it allowed him to create multiple copies of the same image. Screen printing is a printing process that allows you to create many works of art with the same look.

Sometimes Warhol would change the colors and present a group of prints with contrasting colors together.


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