Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987)
Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928 in Pittsburgh. As a child, he took free art classes at Carnegie Institute (now The Carnegie Museum of Art). In addition to drawing, Hollywood movies enraptured Andy and he frequented the local cinema. When he was about nine years old, he received his first camera. Warhol attended Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) from 1945 to 1949. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Pictorial Design with the goal of becoming a commercial illustrator.
Soon after graduating, Warhol moved to New York City to pursue a career as a commercial artist. His work debuted in Glamour magazine in September 1949. Warhol became one of the most successful illustrators of the 1950s, winning numerous awards.
In the late 1950s, Warhol began to devote more energy to painting. He made his first Pop paintings, which he based on comics and ads, in 1961. The following year marked the beginning of Warhol’s celebrity. He debuted his famous Campbell’s Soup Can series, which caused a sensation in the art world. Shortly thereafter he began a large sequence of movie star portraits, including Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Elizabeth Taylor and his series of “death and disasteru paintings.
Warhol’s first exhibition of sculptures was held in 1964. It included hundreds of replicas of large supermarket product boxes, including Brillo Boxes and Heinz Boxes. For this occasion, he premiered his new studio, painted silver and known as “The Factory”. The Factory existed in three locations through 1984 as a hub for his work on visual art, films, magazines, books and as the venue for infamous parties.
Warhol was a prolific artist, producing numerous works until his death. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s he received hundreds of commissions for painted portraits from wealthy socialites, musicians and film stars. Celebrity portraits developed into a significant aspect of his career and a main source of income. His paintings, prints, photographs, and drawings from this period include: Mao, Ladies and Gentlemen, Skulls, Hammer and Sickles, Shadows, Guns, Knives, Crosses, Dollar Signs, Zeitgeist, and Camouflage. In 1984, Warhol collaborated with the young artists Jean-Michel Basquiat,Francesco Clemente, and Keith Haring. Warhol’s final two exhibitions were his series of Last Supper paintings, shown in Milan and his Sewn Photos (multiple prints of identical photos sewn together in a grid), exhibited in New York. Both shows opened in January 1987, one month before his death.