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Andy Warhol

Jacqueline Kennedy (Jackie I), 1966

Andy Warhol, whose name is synonymous with Pop Art, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and grew up in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Andy Warhol studied art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology from 1945 to 1949. He then went to New York City where he became an illustrator until 1960 when Andy Warhol began making paintings based on comic strip characters such as Popeye, Dick Tracy, and Superman.

Andy Warhol turned from the prevailing Abstract-Expressionist styles and the emphasis on the artist’s emotion to a hard-line Realism, using many common images associated with the popular media such as a Campbell Soup can or a Coca-Cola bottle or Brillo pad. The first images were handpainted, but many were reproduced with a silk-screen process. Andy Warhol became the “first artist to utlize the screenprint medium to elevate both common and famous photographic images from popular culture to fine art status.” (Falk Vol III, p. 3465)

In May, 1999, ARTNews magazine named him one of the twenty-five most influential artists-ever. About Andy Warhol it was written: . . . “it all began with the first Campbell’s soup can in 1962. . . With this simple image, the concepts of appropriation and commodification were let loose for good. The celebration by Andy Warhol of his screen sirens, hustler hunks and cafe-society wanna-bees . . .had an equally dramatic effect.”

In 1964, Andy Warhol began making sculpture, often with labels from supermarkets, and in the 1970′s, he turned to portraits, some of the most famous being Jackie Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Mao Tse Tung and Marilyn Monroe. These images reflected the artist’s fascination with the topic of death, something Andy Warhol carried into a series called Death and Disaster, that included depictions of car crashes and gang warfare. Many celebrities and socialites regarded it as a notch ‘up-the-ladder’ of social recognition to be painted by Andy Warhol.

Andy Warhol died in New York City in 1987 from gall bladder surgery that no one expected to be complicated.

Sources include:
Matthew Baigell, “Dictionary of American Art”
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art
ArtNews, May 1999

Biography from the Archives of AskART.