Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

Ubiquitous American artist Andy Warhol was an initiator and leader of the Pop Art movement of the 1960s. Warhol s mass-produced art apotheosized the supposed banality of the commercial culture of the United States. An adroit self-publicist, Warhol 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 Slovak immigrants, Andy Warhol was born in Pennsylvania in 1928. He spent most of his childhood bedridden by chronic illness, where he didn t have much social interaction except with his mother. In retrospect, Warhol said these times of solitude were formative to his personality and eventual art. Warhol graduated in 1949 form the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh with a degree in pictorial design. Soon moving to New York City, Warhol worked as a commercial illustrator and began painting in the late 1950s. He 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, Warhol was producing many images of consumer goods and variations of portraits of celebrities, including Jackie Kennedy, and infamously, his silk-screen depictions of Marilyn Monroe, such as Shot Orange Marilyn. Warhol also founded The Factory, which was not only his studio, but also a breeding ground for underground celebrities, artists, writers, musicians and avant-garde filmmakers.

Warhol quickly became controversial, saying that he wanted to be like a machine in his art, minimizing the role of his own creative input in the production of his work and thus revolutionizing art.

Andy Warhol, the Pope of Pop, suffered a fatal heart attack in 1987 at the relatively young age of 57. In many ways, Andy Warhol reinvented what it meant to be an artist, and his works still remain relevant in American culture.

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