Popularly known as Andy Warhol, Andrew Warhola was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Andy was the youngest of three children. Both of his parents were immigrants from Czechoslovakia. As a child, Andy was very artistic and creative which was encouraged greatly by his mother (TheArtStory.org). He had social issues which kept Andy at home most of his childhood, but he graduated high school at the age of sixteen. When Warhol’s father died, he knew he saw talent in his son so he started a fund to save money so that Andy could get the education he needed to pursue his career in art. He attended Carnegie Mellon University and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in nineteen forty-five. Warhol started his career in New York City shortly after he graduated from college. After Warhol’s career began, his work became known worldwide. His artwork was exhibited in many different places around New York City. Charles Lisanby, one of Warhol’s closest friends, accompanied Warhol on a trip around the world (Warhol.org). In nineteen sixty-four, Warhol’s exhibition in his studio “The Factory” became known as the place to be in New York City. Warhol’s life changed drastically in nineteen sixty-eight when he was shot by a women’s rights activist, Valerie Solanas. After being shot in the lung, Warhol was pronounced clinically dead when he arrived at the hospital and was operated on for five and a half hours and was revived (Warholstars.org). This incident is known as Andy’s “first death” before his actual death in nineteen eighty-seven. Andy eventually died from complications after gull bladder surgery.
Andy Warhol’s work began to become big in the age of pop culture. His work was a major contribution to the movement of pop art in the nineteen fifties. An example of one of Warhol’s contributions is his work of the Campbells soup can. He embraced pop culture into his artwork so that it would seem more appealing to the public. Another well-known painting from Warhol is his painting of Marilyn Monroe. He created this piece by screen printing because he wanted to be able to create paintings quicker (Shilling). In the beginning of his career, Warhol worked for magazines such as Vogue and The New Yorker. He also created advertisements and window displays for well-known brands like Tiffany & Co. Working for these major companies helped Andy create a name for himself and gave him the exposure he needed to win awards from the Art Directors Club. Warhol loved celebrities and had many influential people always around him. This helped him achieve the public status he desired. Andy was highly influenced by the pop culture around him. Much of his work is representative of the famous celebrities and politicians from his time. When incorporating celebrities into his work, Andy worked like a plastic surgeon, tightening skins, straightening noses, and smoothing out wrinkles (Hackett). Warhol used his artwork to express what he thought about politics. He painted a picture of Chinese dictator Mao Zedong in response to the communist government in China. Richard Nixon was president during Andy’s time so he created a painting of Nixon depicting him as someone people would not want to be their president. At the bottom of the painting, Andy wrote “Vote McGovern”. This gave the whole world a look into Andy’s personal political views and since he was very influential during this time, his work had a large impact on society.
Andy Warhol was one of the first artists to use screen printing. He started this process to make it easier to create mass media. He liked this technique because he could create the same image over and over in different colors. In silk-screening a stencil is placed on a sheet of silk and ink is pushed through to create the image. Over the years, different materials have been switched in and out of this process for improvement. The materials that Warhol used for his silk-screening were acrylic paint and silk-screen ink on a canvas. Many of Warhol’s screen-printings were everyday objects. For much of his life, Andy did not have much space to produce these images on large canvas’ because he lived in small apartments or with his mother. Eventually he got his own studio which made producing his work much easier. Along with screen-printing Warhol was also known for his paintings and films. In his paintings, Warhol used abstract expressionism but then later switched to the opposite where the strokes from the paintbrush were not visible. In nineteen sixty-five, Warhol decided to stop painting, even though he still created some paintings throughout the rest of his life, and focus on his film career (TheArtStory.org). Along with his paintings, screenings, and films, Warhol also published many books and founded a magazine.
Warhol loved living a glamourous life and befriended many celebrities which are depicted in his works. He painted the people he admired the most such as Elvis, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe. When Andy began screen-printing, he used this technique to recreate and mass produce the same pictures, in different colors, of a Campbells soup can, Coca-Cola bottles, and match boxes. He used everyday objects but made society view them as art. It is rumored that Warhol chose the Campbells soup can because that is what he ate every single day (TheArtStory.org). At the end of his life Andy recreated The Last Supper originally painted by Leonardo da Vinci. During his life time Warhol was so successful because he painted abstract objects that he knew would appeal to the popular culture and would appeal to the audience he was aiming to reach. He believed that art was meant to be for everyone not just a specific class of people.
One of Andy Warhol’s most famous pieces of art is his painting of Campbells soup cans. This is a painting of thirty-two Campbells soup cans lined up in rows and columns as if they were on a shelf in a grocery store. This piece was inspired by one of Warhol’s close friends who gave him the advice to paint something that was recognizable. The soup cans were all created as separate works but Warhol soon realized that the cans functioned better together as one piece of work. A principle of design that is illustrated in this painting is repetition. This creates rhythm and movement in the painting. The viewers eye travels from one can to the next. Andy used the principle of design repetition in a large number of his other paintings also like “Triple Elvis”, “Green Coca-Cola Bottles”, and “Marilyn Diptych”. These are all one image repeated over and over. If you look closely at the soup cans in the painting in Campbell’s Soup Cans they are not exactly the same because he painted thirty-two different flavors on the cans. An element of design that is illustrated in the Campbells soup painting is line. Each box contains a can and is outlined in a perfect square created by lines. This painting does not have any emotional content in my opinion. People liked this painting because it was unique but made from a common object that they saw every day but never thought about as being art.
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