Photo: Marie Cosindas1966
A close up of the sculpture
showing Warhol (the compulsive shopper), carrying
Bloomingdale's shopping bag
as he did so often in real life
The Andy Warhol Museum
The Andy Warhol Museum of
Modern Art in Medzilaborce
Women and Produce Truck 1946
Ink and graphite on Manila paper
The Andy Warhol Museum Pittsburgh
Campbells Soup Cans (1962)
Museum of Modern Art, New York
210 Coke Bottles 1962
Daros Collection, Switzerland &
The Andy Warhol Foundation
The reason I’m painting this way is that I want to be a machine, and I feel that whatever I do and do machine-like is what I want to do".
Daisy (Blue on Blue) 1982
"I'd asked around 10 or 15 people for suggestions. Finally one lady friend asked the right question,
'Well, what do you love most?'
That's how I started painting money."
- ANDY WARHOL, in his own words
25 Cats Name Sam and
One Blue Pussy
Printed in 1954
This is a limited edition artist's book which actually features only 16 lithographs of a cat titled Sam plus an additional lithograph of a blue cat titled One Blue Pussy.
Warhol's mother did the calligraphy for the book and left out the letter "d" in "Name" but he decided not to correct the error because he rather liked indiscriminate imperfections in his work.
Warhol's work depicting images of cats reflects his passion for cats
Detail of The Last Supper 1986
“I never understood why when you died, you didn't just vanish, everything should just keep going on the way it was only you just wouldn't be there. I always thought I'd like my own tombstone to be blank. No epitaph, and no name. Well, actually, I'd like it to say 'figment'.”
Born in 1928 in Pittsburgh, Andy Warhol (nicknamed Drella) made his way from a Pittsburgh working class family to becoming an American legend. He was a sensitive child and, for this reason, he was home schooled by his mother. During this time, his interest lay in cutting up magazines to produce scrapbooks with great panache, demonstrating his considerable talent for art. He enrolled at The Carnegie School of Art when he was just 9 and later pursued his interests by studying commercial art, graduating from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh.
After graduating at the age of 21, he moved to New York, worked for advertising agencies and magazines like Glamour, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar which soon made him one of the most sought-after commercial illustrators.
He also designed book covers and greeting cards and then started illustrating books, beginning with Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette
Popularly known as The Prince of Pop, a title which was later elevated to Pope of Pop, he was a man of many talents .... painter, printmaker, sculptor, record producer, film maker, illustrator, draughtsman, author and collector ... and varied interests, judging by the social circles in which he mixed. His circle included not just distinguished intellectuals, affluent aristocrats and Hollywood celebrities, but avant-garde street people and bohemian eccentrics as well.
There have been vague stories about the "cult" he encouraged, the drugs etc. but there is no real evidence of him ever being anything other than a model citizen, with strong moral values. Perhaps it was his appearance which gave people the wrong idea. His skin was pale as a result of an illness which caused him to lose his pigmentation. Then when he was 23 or 24, he decided to go gray, one of the reasons being that people wouldn't know how old he was and might also think how good he looked. And later, he often wore gray wigs in weird styles all of which gave him an unusual appearance. For someone who was painfully shy, what he did to his appearance only brought more attention to himself.
"If you want to know all about Andy Warhol,
just look at the surface; of my paintings and films
and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it ...
I see everything that way, the surface of things,
a kind of mental Braille. I just pass my hands
over the surface of things."
Because his health was always delicate, his mother moved to New York when he did, to look after him. She lived with him in his Lexington Ave apartment until her
death in 1972.
The Andy Monument
The sculpture by Rob Pruitt, which was commissioned by the Public Art Fund, was unveiled on 30 March 2011 in front of "The Factory", the building which housed his legendary studio (1973 - 1984), at the north end of Union Square, New York City.
Andy Warhol died on February 22, 1987 at the age of 59 from complications after a gall bladder operation.
In 1987, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts was established in accordance with his will. It serves as the official Estate of Andy Warhol, but also has a mission ... "to foster innovative artistic expression and the creative process" and is "focused primarily on supporting work of a challenging and often experimental nature."
While Warhol was being criticized for becoming a "business artist" and some reviewers expressed their dislike for his portraits which they claimed were "superficial, facile and commercial, with no depth or indication of the significance of the subjects", other critics have come to view his apparent commercialism as "the most brilliant mirror of our times," saying that Warhol had "captured something irresistible about the spirit of American culture in the 1970s."
Andy Warhol's work may not have been considered to be "art" by the purists who perceived art in their single-minded way, but his work tells a different story today.
"The Pop artists did images that anybody walking
down Broadway could recognize in a split second – comics, picnic tables, men’s trousers, celebrities, shower curtains, refrigerators, Coke bottles – all the great modern things that the Abstract Expressionists tried so hard not to notice at all."
Andy Warhol was obsessed with fame and being famous and his work made him more famous than many traditional artists. That fame lives on and he probably achieved it without even realising it. He was able to take a banal object and present it in ways that made one think. What is amazing about his work is the way his mind worked (or perhaps, didn't) and that is where the fascination lies.
The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg is one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburg. It is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist.
In 1991, Warhol's brother, John Warhola, together with the Warhol Foundation in New York and the Slovak Ministry of Culture, established The Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art in Medzilaborce, a small town in Slovakia, from where the Warhola family originated.
In 2009, when his painting titled "Eight Elvises"(1963) sold for US$100 million, it put him amongst the likes of Pollock, Kooning, Klimt, van Gogh, Renoir and Picasso (in that order) who were able to command prices in this range for their work.
Andy Warhol at the National Gallery of Scotland
August - October 2007
In 2007, the National Gallery of Scotland exhibited the works of Andy Warhol to coincide with his 20th death anniversary. During this time, the columns of the gallery were wrapped in images of Campbell soup cans.
This review of the Warhol exhibition at Tate Modern, London captures the "feeling" experienced by many.
"His art is a complete imaginative anthropolog of
the US in the decades after the Second World War,
to the extent that walking through the show is both chilling and overpoweringly sentimental.
Here are the everyday objects, the gods and the goddesses: soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles, Elvis and Marilyn, the atom bomb and the FBI’s Most Wanted Men, a fireman cradling a dying person and a suicide plummeting out of a window, Liza Minelli caught in the flashlight and the electric chair. It is larger than life, the world of Warhol’s paintings, and ecstatic."
JONATHAN JONES, The Guardian Weekend
In late 1969, Warhol founded "Interview", a monthly magazine nicknamed "The Crystal Ball of Pop" which features conversations between some of the world's best known people. The magazine is still in publication and, surprisingly, the format has remained consistent.
Fold-out cover of Architectural Digest (Oct 1981)
In this article, AD visits Lisa Minelli's Manhattan apartment which was designed by Timothy Macdonald of Donghia Associates. The interior spaces feature works by Andy Warhol who was a good freind of Lisa's. The friendship was mutual and she was his favourite portrait subject.
The information on this page was taken from several magazine and newspaper articles and also from the book "The Philospphy of Andy Warhol"by Andy Warhol
15 minutes of fame ...
We often use the phrase "15 minutes of fame" but not everyone knows that the expression is taken from Andy Warhol's words in 1968 when he said "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."
There are so many aspects to this intriguing artist that it is not possible to summarise his life and achievements in a single page. However, his unique and slightly bizarre personality makes it worthwhile to touch upon some aspects briefly although the emergence of the pop art movement in the 60s is more relevant to the products on this Site.
The pop art movement came about after he started painting mass produced brand name products like Campbell Soup cans (Pepper Pot) and Coke bottles, both of which he personally liked. He apparently consumed Campbell's soup every day for 20 years and he had this to say about Coke:
“A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it and you know it."
Itt was during this time that he fused commercial art with fine art when he painted commonplace objects like the soup cans to turn them into museum icons. During the 1960s Warhol also started to paint celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Troy Donahue, Muhammad Ali and Elizabeth Taylor to name a few and founded his studio called "The Factory" which was located at 231E 47th Street". In this studio which was decorated with aluminium foil and silver paint, he gathered together an odd mix of people which included writers, musicians, artists and celebrities, and started to mass produce prints and posters using a silkscreen method which he perfected. They also mass produced shoes designed by him
"Apparently, most people love watching the same basic thing (actions shows on TV, fh), as long as the details are different. But I’m just the opposite: if I’m going to sit and watch the same thing I saw the night before, I don’t want it to be essentially the same – I want it to be exactly the same. Because the more you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away, and the better and emptier you feel."
ANDY WARHOL (1960s)
Warhol made over 300 experimental films at "The Factory", mostly odd ones like the one titled “Sleep” which showed a man sleeping over six hours, and nothing else. His work was popular and controversial.
Andy Warhol & Edie Sedgwick 1960s
Warhol loved television and likened it to life. TV was his constant companion and he contemplated having his own TV show which he wanted to call "Nothing Special.
In 1964, Paul Bianchini hosted an exhibit titled "The American Supermarket" in his Upper East Side gallery. It was different and interesting in that it depicted a small American supermarket with absolutely everything in it being the work of six prominent pop artists of the time. Warhol's can of Campbell's soup cost $1500 and an autographed can sold at $6 a piece. This was probably the initial event which introduced the public to pop art and to question "art" ... what it is or is not.
The 70s were quiet compared to the previous decade and during this time Warhol painted portraits of the rich and famous ... celebrities and notable people like the Shah and Empress of Iran, Chairman Mao Tse-tung, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Diana Ross, Brigitte Bardot, Lisa Minelli etc. In late 1979, he co-founded the New York Academy of Art, also known as the Graduate School of Figurative Art, a not-for-profit private art university.
In 1979, Warhol was commissioned to paint a Group 4 race version of the BMW M1 for the BMW Art Car Project, an assignment introduced by Hervé Poulain, where artists were invited to create a canvas on a car. Warhol, who was the fourth artist in the project, decided not to use a smal-scale practice model, like his three predecessors did, but instead, painted directly on the full scale car, taking a total of just 23 minutes to complete the project.
During the 80s, Warhol re-emerged in the art world through his connections with other artists who were dominating the scene at the time. It was during this time that Warhol painted Michael Jackson following the singer's best-selling album "Thriller".
Although he had started exhibiting during the fifties, his first gallery exhibition (which marked his pop art debut) was held at the contemporary Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles in July 1962. This was followed shortly after with his solo pop art exhibition held at the Stable Gallery, New York in November 1962. His exhibits included 100 Soup Cans, 100 Coke Bottles and 100 Dollar Bills.
In December 1962, The Museum of Modern Art in New York hosted a Symposium on pop art at which artists were attacked for "capitulating" to consumerism. Warhol's blatant endorsement and promotion of market culture were met with horror and outrage. This event actually set the stage for the shift in the culture of the art world, a shift in which Warhol took centre stage.
Since then, numerous Andy Warhol exhibitions have been held all over the world and they continue to attract large crowds.
Warhol's critics tended to belittle him and his work and were often insulting in their comments. One critic referred to him as 'Nothingness Himself' which he says, "hurt his sense of existence" ("The Philosophy of Andy Warhol")
MY PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS & COMMENTS
I had the privilege of being taken to some of Andy Warhol's exhibitions when I was a student in America and at the time, people still referred to his Campbell Soup Cans, the mass produced commercialism and were emphatic in their opinion that it wasn't "art". Unfortunately, I was just a teenager and, besides not knowing very much about art, I was too young to understand the phenomenon that was Andy Warhol and therefore, to form my own opinion.
I have since attended Warhol exhibitions, the most recent one being "Andy Warhol's Time Capsules" at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne in 2005 where the contents of 15 Time Capsules were exhibited.
The Time Capsules are boxes of his possessions which documents his life, to a degree. He was a hoarder and rarely threw anything away. He saved just about everything he could from scrapbooks, press clippings, taxi cab receipts, ticket stubs, audios, photos, telephone messages, letters clothing etc. At the time of his death, his 4-storey Manhattan townhouse was packed with stuff ... and that was after he had boxed, labelled, dated, sealed and stored much of his collection starting from the mid-70s.
The material contained in these boxes, spans from the early 60s to the time of his death in 1987, and comprises 612 boxes.
The contents of each box may seem mundane to us but obviously they take on added meaning, a different dimension, when we try to see them through Andy Warhol's eyes ... if indeed we can!'
Time Capsules in storage Typical Contentd
The fact remains that, regardless of how vast the information contained in these boxes, it would not be enough to even adequately explain the man, his work and his life.
Now when I study his work and his philosophy, I find the candour, honesty and truth of his words particularly refreshing. He analysed every single aspect of life, gave meaning to ordinary, everyday events and already knew what "visionaries" are proclaiming today. For instance,
"As soon as you stop wanting something you get it." ANDY WARHOL, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol
Life is simple or should be. We are the ones who complicate it. Unnecessarily. Andy Warhol saw life as it was meant to be. Simple. Uncomplicated.
I find myself agreeing with the Warhol philosophy in more ways than I thought I would. He often uses reverse psychology to plot his path which he seems to do with meticulous precision and he has a way of analysing everyday events which makes one think.
I am certainly no art critic and certainly, no authority on life, so my comments, simplistic in their words, merely reflect my thoughts and the way I feel.
I know I cannot turn back the clock but the regret remains ... to have been there and not appreciated it (as I do now), is worse than not having been there at all.
If only ...