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Andy Warhol Biography

    Birth Year : 1928
    Death Year : 1987
    Country : United States

Andy Warhol began his artistic endeavors as a child. He was often bedridden from the movement disorder Sydenham's chorea. This period of his life was crucial to his development. Outcast from other children, he became close to his mother, listened to the radio and collected pictures of movie stars (who would become his life-long obsession). It was also during this period that he found a talent and a love of drawing. When he graduated high school he entered the Carnegie Institute of Technology's Fine Art College.

After college, Warhol became a successful commercial illustrator. He was famous for his "blotted ink" drawings. He soon began to blend his commercial art and the rest of his art and became part of the Pop Art movement. It was at this time that he did such works as "Campbell's Soup Cans" and paintings of celebrities. He wanted to mass produce his art of mass produced items, an act which could make a statement in itself. He used assistants and switched to silkscreen prints so that he could produce his work serially.

At this time Warhol was frequently attacked by other modern artists who thought him nothing but consumerist. These critics thought that Warhol's work did not qualify as art. His art brought a renewed ferocity to the constantly asked question, "What is art?" This question was really brought public in 1964 during the "American Supermarket" exhibit held in Paul Bianchini's Upper East Side Gallery. Six pop artists were featured and together they created a fake small supermarket environment filled with their art. Among the items sold were Warhol's painting of a can of Campbell's Soup, bronze Brillo boxes, Bronze watermelons (Billy Apple), and signed Campbell's cans.

Warhol did not limit himself to the painting; he was also a photographer, sculptor, author, and filmmaker. His films were, like his other media forms, very modern. He produced films like Sleep (a poet sleeping, six hours), Eat (a man eating a mushroom, 45 minutes), Batman Dracula (campy Batman, no permission obtained from DC comics), Chelsea Girls (two films projected at the same time with two different stories), Lonesome Cowboys (think Brokeback Mountain), and others. This is just a small sampling of his movies as he was quite prolific.

On June 3, 1968 (two days before the Kennedy assassination), Warhol and the curator for the Art Gallery of Ontario, Mario Amaya, were shot at the Factory (Warhol's studio) by Valerie Solanas. Neither of them were killed. However, his close friends said that Andy Warhol was never quite the same.

Through the 1970's Warhol became more of an entrepreneur. He put more time into work for rich clientele (including Mao Zedong) and co-founded Interview. He described business as being a form of art. He also had an appreciation for celebrity glamour. He said, "I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They're so beautiful. Everything's plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic."1 He described himself as "deeply superficial."1

The 1980's brought a return of both critical and financial success. However, many believed that he had become merely a capitalist, a business artist and nothing more. They believed that his images represented nothing, that they were shallow and people saw fake depth to them because of his fame or previous genius. It was during this time that he wrote a memoir titled POPism: The Warhol Sixties with Pat Hackett, his secretary.

Warhol died on February 22, 1987 at 6:32 a.m. He was 58 years old. He died in his sleep of a heart attack. It was reported that the hospital staff had overloaded him with fluids after his gallbladder surgery and he died of water intoxication (which caused the heart attack), his lawyers sued for negligence. This matter was settled out of court for three million dollars. He was buried next to his parents in Pennsylvania. His estate was valued at much more than half a billion dollars.

People are always kinder to deceased artists than to living ones. Now most critics agree that Warhol showed a side of our Western culture that art had previously ignored. He showed the reality of the 1970s in his art.

Source: 1. Andy Warhol Quotes,