Born August 6, 1928 in Pittsburgh, PA.
† February 22, 1987 in New York City.
Andy Warhol was an American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement that flourished by the 1960s. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist.
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. Warhol also started his series of “death and disaster” paintings at that time.
Between 1963 and 1968 Warhol worked with his Superstar performers and various other people to create hundreds of films. These films were scripted and improvised, ranging from conceptual experiments and simple narratives to short portraits and sexploitation features. His works include Empire (1964), The Chelsea Girls (1966), and the Screen Tests (1964-66).
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”. It quickly became “the” place to be in New York; parties held there were mentioned in gossip columns throughout the country. Warhol held court at Max’s Kansas City, a nightclub that was a popular hangout among artists and celebrities. By the mid-1960s he was a frequent presence in magazines and the media.
Warhol expanded into the realm of performance art with a traveling multimedia show called The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, which featured The Velvet Underground, a rock band. In 1966 Warhol exhibited Cow Wallpaper and Silver Clouds at the Leo Castelli Gallery.
In the mid-1980s his television shows, Andy Warhol’s T.V. and Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes were broadcast on New York cable television and nationally on MTV. He created work for Saturday Night Live, appeared in an episode of The Love Boat and produced music videos for rock bands such as The Cars. Warhol also signed with a few modeling agencies, appearing in fashion shows and numerous print and television ads.
Warhol was a prolific artist, producing numerous works through the 1970s and 1980s. 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. 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.
The Andy Warhol Museum in his native city, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, holds an extensive permanent collection of art and archives. It is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist.