Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987)
Andy Warhol was a legendary man and the artist who turned the world of modern art upside down. His works and the artistic heritage is highly appreciated by critics and masters of art all over the world. Nowadays, the name of this outstanding master has become a true symbol of the popular trend, which is called “pop art.” What did allow Andy Warhol to achieve such a huge success? The one can figure out this only by looking through the life of a great artist.
Andy Warhol was born in the city of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) and was the fourth child in a large family of immigrants from Eastern Europe. According to the most reliable data, the birthplace of his family was Slovakia; however, some other sources provide references to the Ukrainian roots of the artist.
The parents of the future artist moved to the USA at the beginning of 20th century. Andy’s father worked in a coal mine, and his mother was a housewife. During his childhood, Andy enjoyed drawing and was interested in fine arts. When Andy was at school, the future famous painter contracted Sydenham’s chorea and remained bedridden for about a year. This syndrome affected the muscles and led to uncontrolled limb movements. During this period, he started to draw various portraits, landscapes and making collages from old newspaper clippings.
It is likely that in those days Warhol was drawing ordinary objects that surrounded him: lighted lamps, cigarette packs, key chains and much more. Subsequently, the artist said that this period of life shaped his unique style. This style remained the major one until the end of his life and brought him great success and fame. After graduating from high school, Andy entered the Carnegie Mellon Institute of Technology, where he studied graphics and the basics of commercial illustrations. According to the trustworthy sources, Andy was one of the most talented students in his group. Despite his success in study, it was quite complicated for him to communicate with peers and teachers.
After graduating from college, young Andy moved to New York to pursue a career as a commercial artist. His first job was a window dresser. He drew advertising posters, holiday cards, and also decorated the stands. Later he started a successful cooperation with well-known glossy publications, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. He worked as an illustrator.
The first success came to the young artist in 1950. When working on the commercial for designer shoes, he used artistic blots, and it led to the immediate success. After that, he had tons of profitable contracts and lots of money.
In 1952, Andy held his first full-scale exhibition, which instantly brought him great success. Three years later, he created his first paintings, based on the method of screen printing. By this time, the talented artist remains one of the most successful painters of that time.
In the late 50s, he decided to work with photography, which was a bit different direction of his usual artistic style. In 1960, Andy Warhol created a design for Coca-Cola cans, which brought him a few more large checks. He also created a series of paintings about the products of mass culture, which became his signature.
A year later, the artist presented a series of works where he depicted Campbell soup jars and green Coca-Cola bottles. The works of the early sixties were exhibited in the gallery and became very popular. The artist’s paintings were called a reflection of the mass consumption culture. Generally, Andy had an outstanding ability to find aesthetics in ordinary things.
In 1963, Andy Warhol bought an old abandoned building in New York and organized his own workshop. Soon this place became a springboard for the creation and presentation of his works. By hiring a team of young artists, the recognized master taught them to recreate his own works and made his art a product of mass consumption. In the mid-sixties, Warhol was interested in alternative art. He created different artworks from cardboard, old cans, and packs. In addition, Warhol began to shoot his movies. However, these works did not belong to the field of cinematography. Short cinematographic sketches of the artist were more likely to belong to the sphere of the alternative art since many of his films did not have a clear plot.
On June 3, 1968, the painter was shot by the feminist and former Warhol model Valerie Solanas. She was arrested the next day, explaining: “He had too much control over my life.” The artist had a clinical death and a long operation, which helped to save his life. Recovering from injuries, he refused to testify against his former model. Thus, Valerie was sentenced only to three years in the colony.
After the assassination, Andy Warhol changed. He started to paint works connected with death. He was pretty disappointed with the death of Marilyn Monroe and even created a picture dedicated to the actress. Subsequently, the works of this period were considered as those belonging to the separate stage of his artistic life. Warhol devoted the next 16 years to making money rather than art. He said: “Being good in business is a fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working are art, and good business is the best art.”
Throughout the 1970s and early 80s, his notoriety earned him huge fees for portraits of wealthy patrons, who included John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Diana Ross, Brigitte Bardot, Liza Minnelli, Michael Jackson, the Shah of Iran, his wife Empress Farah Pahlavi, and his sister Princess Ashraf Pahlavi. In 1979, he started painting the car, and in 1983, at the request of the defenders of wild animals, created a series of silk-screenings called “Endangered Species.” This includes images of an Amur tiger, a tree frog, a black rhino, a Grevy’s zebra, a giant panda and other endangered species.
What did Andy Warhol die from? This question worries many of his fans. The artist died at the age of 58 in a hospital, after an operation on the gallbladder. The official cause of death is cardiac arrest.