Pop artist and cultural icon, Andy Warhol was recognized for his creative talent during his storied life and continues to be part of our current cultural dialogue.
His experimental approach to art led him, and his illustrious group of followers at The Factory, to change how we look at our contemporary world culturally and from the vantage of fine art.
Andy had the ability to observe, record and reflect. His omnivorous curiosity resulted in an enormous body of work that spanned every available medium and most importantly contributed to the collapse of boundaries between high and low culture.
The youngest child of three, Andy was born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928 in a working-class neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Stricken at an early age with a rare neurological disorder, the young Andy Warhol found solace and escape in the form of popular celebrity magazines and DC comic books, imagery he would return to years later. Predating the multiple silver wigs and deadpan demeanor of later years, Andy experimented with inventing personae during his college years. He also developed what would one day become his signature drawing style—the blotted line technique—in which he would ink an image in reverse on a vellum-like paper and then tamp it down onto a clean sheet of paper, resulting in a drippy and imperfect line that was highly unique and playful. He signed greeting cards “André” and ultimately he dropped the “a” from his last name. His transformation coincided with his move to New York after graduating in 1949 with a degree in Pictorial Design from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University).
Work came quickly to Warhol in New York, a city where he made his home and studio for the rest of his life. Within a year of arriving, Warhol garnered top assignments as a commercial artist. Publications and clients included Columbia Records, Glamour Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, NBC, Tiffany & Co., Vogue, and others. He also designed window displays for Bonwit Teller and I. Miller department stores. Within a few years, he was established as an acclaimed graphic artist. Warhol turned to painting and drawing during this time, and, in 1952, he had his first solo exhibition at the Hugo Gallery, with Fifteen Drawings based on the Writings of Truman Capote. As he matured, his paintings incorporated photo-based techniques. He had developed the technique as a commercial illustrator. The Museum of Modern Art (among others) took notice, and in 1956 the institution included his work in his first group show.
The turbulent 1960s ignited an impressive and wildly prolific time in Warhol’s life. It is this period, extending into the early 1970s, which saw the production of many of Warhol’s most iconic works. Building on the emerging movement of Pop Art, wherein artists used everyday consumer objects as subjects, Warhol started painting readily found, mass-produced objects, drawing on his extensive advertising background. The humble soup cans would soon take their place among the Marilyn Monroes, Dollar Signs, the "Disaster" series, and Coca Cola Bottles as essential, exemplary works of contemporary art.
More than twenty years after his death, Andy Warhol remains one of the most influential figures in contemporary art and culture.
Warhol’s life and work inspires creative thinkers worldwide thanks to his enduring imagery. A skilled (analog) social networker, Warhol parlayed his fame, one connection at a time, to the status of a globally recognized brand.
Decades before widespread reliance on portable media devices, he documented his daily activities and interactions on his traveling audio tape recorder and beloved Minox 35EL camera. Predating the hyper-personal outlets now provided online, Warhol captured life’s every minute detail in all its messy, ordinary glamour and broadcast it through his work, to a wide and receptive audience. Today, Warhol is often compared to his contemporaries that roamed New York City's art allies and halls. His work is often discussed along the lines of pop art icons like Roy Lichtenstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Herring. From his cultural influence the breadth is often compared to the influence of surrealist Salvador Dali and specifically that of cubist Pablo Picasso.