Biography of Andy Warhol
“Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.” – Andy Warhol. Following these words, one of the best known artists of America pursued his dreams and lived his life the way he intended. Andy Warhol born an outsider used his talents to create works of art that moved society in every way possible.
His adventures to New York sparked new ideas which contributed to his popularity. Becoming well-known with other celebrities was a huge achievement for Andy. The catalyst of the Pop Art movement and founder of Interview magazine, Andy Warhol, changed the world’s views on art forever. Born Andrew Warhola August 6, 1928 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, this peculiar boy was different from the very beginning. He was an outsider in grade school mainly for the things he did. “Most of his peers from Holmes Elementary School looked up to athletes like Joe DiMaggio and played basketball themselves, but Andy’s idol was Shirley Temple” (Lowmiller 1).
Andy showed a wonderful talent for drawing at an early age. It was not a surprise that his favorite pastime was drawing flowers. After becoming ill at 6 years old, Andy was confined to his bed. His family took their time to entertain him for hours by showing him how to draw, trace and print images. The love for drawing grew greater as Andy got older.
Extremely smart for his age, Andy graduated Schenely High School early, at 16 years old, and in 1945, finished 51st in his class of 278 graduates. Later, after his father passed away in 1942, Andy continued his education and got accepted at Carnegie Institute of Technology three years later. He was the first of his family to ever go beyond high school. During the summer, Andy helped his oldest brother, Paul, sell fruits and vegetables from a truck. Every opportunity Andy had he would do quick on-the-spot sketches of the customers and people who passed by.
Those sketches not only helped improve his drawing skills but also won him a small scholarship. During another summer break, Andy worked at a prestigious department store creating window displays. It was there that he was introduced to the world of high fashion, which would later influence his interest in becoming an illustrator. Andy quickly became popular among his classmates for his unique sense of style in his art. One professor was displeased with his non-conformity and said that, “‘Andy Warhola was last on the list to amount to anything!'” (“The Andy Warhol” 1). Not everyone thought the same way though.
Another one of his teachers said he was “the only student that had a product to sell”‘ (“The Andy Warhol” 1). In 1949, after graduating with a degree in Pictorial Design, Andy and one of his fellow classmates boarded an overnight train to New York City to pursue the world of art. After graduation, Andy moved to New York, a city he made his home and studio for the rest of his life. “Within a year of arriving, Warhol earned top assignments as a commercial artist for a variety of clients including Columbia Records, Glamour magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, NBC, Tiffany ; Co., Vogue, and others” (“Andy Warhol Foundation” 2).
Although Andy started to occasionally drop the “a” from his name, he made it more official by signing his first commissioned illustrations, ‘Andy Warhol’. “Famous works from the period would include the Campbell’s Soup Cans, Coke Bottles, Disaster paintings and pop icon portraits such as Marilyn Monroe” (“Andy Warhol Life” 2). His creativity had blossomed in illustrating fashion ads, books, record albums and many other promotional items. He also worked to create unique advertisements for I.Miller, a popular shoe company. Warhol’s advertising pieces in the 1950s got his foot in the door for later adventures in the art world in the 60s.
Following a decade of enormous success as an illustrator, Warhol looked toward Fine Art as a bigger challenge. He bought a four-story townhouse in 1960 and experimented with using advertising and comic strip images as his art. At the time, the subject matter was new and untraditional. These early Pop paintings had a loose, unfinished look. Andy’s style, over the next several months, evolved into being more flat and graphic. Although his techniques were always changing, one consistence aspect was that the images were known to everyone in everyday life.
In April, 1961 Warhol had his first opportunity to show his new art. He designed a fashion window at Bonwit Teller’s Department Store that used five of his paintings as backdrops for the dressed mannequins. Throughout 1961 Warhol continued trying different techniques and added to his selection of popular pieces. The Campbell’s soup can became his main subject and gained him his greatest infamy. “He and many other artists working on similar themes, but in different styles, were connected together in a new art movement called Pop Art” (“The Andy Warhol” 1).
Andy, without knowing it, changed the future of art for years to come. On July 9, 1962 Warhol had his first major exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, where magazines such as Time, Life and Newsweek ran articles about the show. Today, the complete set of 32 soup can paintings from that exhibit can be seen at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Also, in 1962 Andy Warhol realized that the silkscreen method was the perfect way to repeat his images. Warhol continued to make many new pieces. The early Sixties was his most creative period.
In 1963, he began to experiment as a filmmaker. “He viewed film as another medium to push the limits of his creativity” (“Andy Warhol Life” 2). Like his paintings, his “underground” art films caused quite a stir in the art world by their strange unusual boldness. “Warhol became the manager of the influential New York rock band The Velvet Underground in 1965” (“Andy Warhol Biography” 1). His studio in midtown New York where it was all happening became well-known as “The Factory.” In 1968 Andy Warhol was shot by Valerie Solanis, an unstable individual who visited The Factory.
He was in very critical condition for several days but slowly recovered. This traumatic event marked a major turning point in Warhol’s life. In the following years, The Factory changed significantly. Both of Andy’s assistants had left to pursue their own interests. Warhol’s painting was less risk-oriented and as a result didn’t shake the art world as it had in the 60s.
During this time, Warhol stated his most famous quote which was “in the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes” – Andy Warhol. “In 1969 Warhol worked on several television projects including “Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes” produced for MTV” (“Andy Warhol Life” 2). Also, in 1969 Warhol also began a fashion magazine called Interview which became widely known very quickly and required much of his time. Starting this magazine was one of Warhol’s greatest achievements since it is still in circulation today. Warhol became a part of New York’s celebrity scene and loved attending gatherings with other well known people.
He documented those events with his camera and tape recorder. In 1987 Warhol was hospitalized to have an infected gall bladder removed. Although the operation was successful, he died mysteriously in his townhouse February 22, 1987. He was 58 years old. The Warhol Foundation for the Arts was established from his home and in 1994 the Warhol Museum opened in his childhood city of Pittsburgh. It holds the largest collection of his artwork.
Andy Warhol was an artist, filmmaker, photographer, author, editor, and cultural icon. He was a passionate collector his entire life, viewing beauty and art in everyday objects such as cookie jars, toys, jewelry, watches, and antiques. In the years since his untimely death, his importance grew to enormous proportions. He is now viewed as one of the most major artists of the Twentieth Century. The unique sense of style in his pieces influenced more future artists than he ever would have imagined.