Great Artists: Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol was American artist and filmmaker, an initiator and leading exponent of the Pop art movement of the 1960s whose mass-produced art apotheosized the supposed banality of the commercial culture of the United States.

An adroit self-publicist, he projected a concept of the artist as an impersonal, even vacuous, figure who is nevertheless a successful celebrity, businessman, and social climber.

The son of Ruthenian immigrants from what is now eastern Slovakia, whose original name was Warhola, Warhol graduated in 1949 from the Carnegie Institute of Technology(now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh ( link mid Atlantic states) , with a degree in pictorial design. He then went to New York City, ( link New York) where he worked as a commercial illustrator for about a decade.

Warhol began painting in the late 1950s and received sudden notoriety in 1962, when he exhibited paintings of Campbell’s soup cans, Coca-Cola bottles, and wooden replicas of Brillo soap pad boxes.

By 1963 he was mass-producing these purposely banal images of consumer goods by means of photographic silkscreen prints, and he then began printing endless variations of portraits of celebrities in garish colours. The silkscreen technique was ideally suited to Warhol, for the repeated image was reduced to an insipid and dehumanized cultural icon that reflected both the supposed emptiness of American material culture, awash in consumerism and brand marketing, and the artist’s emotional noninvolvement with the practice of his art. Warhol’s work placed him in the forefront of the emerging Pop art movement in America.

Throughout his career, Warhol frequently collaborated with artists, and in 1984 he worked with young artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, and Keith Haring. When working with Basquiat and Clemente, each artist worked independently on the canvas before passing it along, the artist’s individual marks remaining distinct and recognizable signs and logos becoming part of the compositions. Warhol also returned to hand painting with a brush in the 1980s, something he had set aside in the 1960s in favor of the silkscreen.

On February 22, 1987, Warhol died aged 59  in Manhattan( link New York)  due to complications following a surgery to remove his gall bladder. Warhol is buried next to his mother and father at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery in Bethel Park, a suburb south of Pittsburgh.

Destination – New York and Mid Atlantic States