Andy Warhol, Response, 1953, Drawing, Edition Unique
Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Slovak immigrants. Warhol's father was a construction worker who died in an accident when Andy was only 13 years old. Warhol showed talent early on for drawing and painting. After high school he studied commercial art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, from which he graduated in 1949. He then went to New York where he worked as an illustrator for such magazines as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, and for commercial advertising. He soon became one of New York's most highly-sought and successful commercial illustrators. In 1952, Warhol had his first one-man show exhibition at the Hugo Gallery in New York. Four years later he was part of an important group exhibition at New York's renowned Museum of Modern Art. Warhol's preferred printmaking technique was the screenprint, more commonly known as the silkscreen. The technique was highly conducive to the artist's idea of the proliferation of art. In the 1960s, Warhol began to paint quotidian, mass-produced objects such as Campbell's Soup cans and Coke bottles. From 1962 forward, he produced silkscreen prints of famous personalities such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. The essence of Andy Warhol's art was to make no distinction between fine art and commercial art used in magazine illustrations, comic books, record albums, or advertising campaigns. Warhol once expressed his thinking in one sentence: "When you think about it, department stores are kind of like museums." The pop artist not only depicted mass-produced products but also wanted to mass-produce his own works of pop art. Consequently, in 1962 Warhol founded The Factory, an art studio where he employed 'art workers,' primarily to mass-produce prints and posters, but also other items such as shoes. The Factory was first located on the 5th floor of 231 East 47th Street in Manhattan's Midtown, and would later relocate to 820 Broadway in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. The Factory also doubled as a filmmaking studio. It was there that Warhol made over 300 experimental films, many of which contained ambiguous or pornographic content. For instance, his earliest film, Sleep, consists entirely of footage of a man sleeping for over six hours. In July of 1968, a woman named Valerie Solanis shot Warhol in the chest multiple times. Solanis had worked occasionally for the artist in The Factory, and had founded a group called SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men), she being the sole member. Upon her arrest, Solanis said: "He [Warhol] had too much control over my life." Warhol never completely recovered from his wounds, and for the rest of his life wore a bandage around his waist. After 1968, Warhol's activities became more and more entrepreneurial. His process of producing art took a radical turn, and he spent most of his time making individual portraits of the rich and affluent such as Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, and Brigitte Bardot. He founded his own night club and also a magazine, Interview. In 1975, Warhol published The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again), wherein he provides the reader with his own broad definition of art: "Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art." In his later years, he promoted other artists such as Keith Haring and Robert Mapplethorpe. Warhol died February 22, 1987, from complications after a gall bladder operation.