Even those unfamiliar with contemporary or modern artists have usually heard of Andy Warhol (B. 1928). Andy Warhol is a pop art visual art sensation, film director and producer. As regular readers of the Imitate Modern Diary will know, we often publish our short biographies to highlight the lives of some key names in art over the last century and in today’s article we offer a very brief biography of the father of pop art.
Who is Andy Warhol?
Warhol is an American artist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, aka ‘the Steel City’, to become a key figure in the world of pop art (aka popular art) and contemporary art. Born as Andrew Warhola to immigrant parents in a working-class neighbourhood, Andy Warhol used his talent and dedication for changing art to rise to fame from his humble background.
Andy Warhol Background
Warhol started his professional career in art when he attended Carnegie Mellon University of Art and Design in his hometown of Pittsburgh. However, like many aspiring artists his age, he yearned for a more vibrant home with greater opportunities; this led Warhol to take a job as an illustrator in NYC. You can view some of his early illustration work on the Tate Modern website.
Another artist who escaped their hometown to pursue a career creating vibrant art using everyday objects and the human form is Nana del Riego, who we are proud to represent at the Imitate Modern.
Andy Warhol Artwork
Warhol’s early works were mainly drawings and paintings that celebrated the everyday objects of American life. He took these ‘regular’ items, such as Coca-Cola bottles, Campbell’s soup cans, and Brillo boxes, that could be found on the shelves of most convenience and grocery stores and turned them into art, creating beauty from everyday items.
Andy Warhol’s art was accessible and spoke to the average person, something that had not been seen before. Andy Warhol’s artworks were also a radical deviation from the more traditional art of the time, of which the style pre-1950s had not been challenged to this extent in several decades.
Andy Warhol Arts Studio
In the 1960s, Warhol’s career skyrocketed, alongside other pop legends including Roy Lichtenstein, allowing him to open his studio, The Factory. Warhol produced many pieces at The Factory, including his most famous piece of work which our gallerists have discussed later in this article.
Andy Warhol’s Art in Film
As if his contribution to pop art wasn’t enough, Warhol also produced and directed several experimental films, including Sleep (1963), Empire (1964), Vinyl (1965), and Outer and Inner Space (1965), which were known for their long runtimes – for example, Empire (1964) runs at around 8 hours and Sleep (1963) which is over 5 hours! However, he did also co-direct some shorter, more digestible films, such as Match Girl (1966) which is a modest 26 minutes.
Who Was Andy Warhol In Private?
Despite his fame, Warhol was a notoriously private person. It is believed that Warhol was Dyslexic, which may contribute to some part of his creative mind. Not much is known about his personal life, as Warhol kept his art and private life separate.
He rarely gave interviews and was known for his enigmatic persona. However, we can’t overstate his influence on art and popular culture. He paved the way for future generations of artists following in his footsteps and embracing everyday objects as a focal point.
Andy Warhol Exhibitions and Museum Appearances
- The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City opened an exhibition in 1989, which featured a staggering 400 works by the artist.
- 25 years after Warhol’s untimely death, the Metropolitan Museum of Art held an exhibition to remind the public of Warhol’s expansive influence on contemporary art. The exhibition was also unique as it featured works by over 50 artists who Warhol influenced in some way. Artists globally are continually inspired by Warhol’s work, including some of our represented contemporary artists at the Imitate Modern Gallery in London, including David LaChapelle, who worked under Andy Warhol before carving out his career in contemporary and fashion photography.
- More recently (2019), the Whitney Museum of American Art organised an expansive exhibition with over 350 works by Andy Warhol to showcase his most famous and lesser-known work in one venue.
- Finally, we couldn’t fail to mention The Andy Warhol Museum. If you get the chance to explore this museum in Pittsburgh, you can spend hours marvelling at the extensive collection of his art, films, and personal belongings.
What is the Most Famous of Andy Warhol’s Work?
There are dozens of pieces by Andy Warhol that could be classed as his most famous contributions to pop art, depending on who you ask or what Google decides to throw at you on an image search. For example his silkscreen print of Marilyn Monroe is an iconic piece, especially as it was released to the public not long after Monroe’s tragic death. And the vibrant work featuring the iconic model and actress remains as relevant today as when Warhol created it over 60 years ago.
Pop artist Andy Warhol was a true visionary who impacted the art world and popular culture. His groundbreaking works celebrated the mundane and challenged the traditional notions of what art could be while leading a truly extraordinary life moving across the US and travelling internationally to share his talent with the world.
For more information on other contemporary artists who have shaken the industry or to buy a piece of pop art history from another acclaimed artist, head to the artist directory on the Imitate Modern website, where you’ll find biographies and collections from artists such as Henry Hate, Romero Britto, and Metin Salah.