Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol was a famous American painter, commercial illustrator and filmmaker who was a leading figure in the pop art movement. Warhol also became famous as an avant-garde filmmaker, record producer, author. Warhol paintings are still fresh even today, and many choose to add them to their bedroom or lounge walls. Many Warhol paintings suit the modern contemporary style of 21st century homes, and his work goes from strength to strength.

Andy Warhol
This photograph is courtesy of Wikipedia.

After Marilyn Monroe’s death Andy Warhol produced several series of paintings of her, based on the same original photo. Warhol enjoyed her connection between death and celebrity cult and so chose her as a Warhol Star. Warhol tried out many varieties of color combinations. Campbell’s Soup brand was also linked closely to Warhol after his series of paintings which spanned much of Warhol’s career, as he commonly came back to the Soup Can image as a tool for creativity. These heavily branded themes brought in young people and gave importance and relevance to the pop art movement.

The attack on Warhol, which nearly claimed his life affected him for the rest of his years, making him somewhat shy and perhaps less ambitious than before. The mark of Warhol paintings has never been lost, though.

In the early 1960s, Warhol tried to exhibit some of his drawings using these techniques in a gallery, only to be turned down. He began to rethink the relationship between his commercial work and the rest of his art. Instead of treating these things as opposites, he merged them, and began to take commercial and popular culture more explicitly as his topic. Pop Art was an experimental form that several artists were independently adopting; some of these pioneers, such as Roy Lichtenstein, would later become synonymous with the movement.

Warhol, who would become famous as the “Pope of Pop”, turned to this new style, where popular subjects could be part of the artist’s palette. His early paintings show images taken from cartoons and advertisements, hand-painted with paint drips. Those drips emulated the style of successful abstract expressionists (such as Robert Rauschenberg). Eventually, Warhol simplified his image vocabulary down to the icon itself – to brand names, celebrities, dollar signs – and removed all traces of the artist’s “hand” in the production of his paintings.

Warhol’s bold style is shown best in his Cow wallpaper series which remains a popular choice with Warhol Art lovers around the world. Psychedelic yellow combined with pinks to dazzle art lovers and attract young followers towards the Pop Art movement, of which Warhol was one of the figureheads. The cow photo came from an agricultural print which later was repeated into real wallpaper by obsessed Warhol.

The full length of Warhol’s career is littered with interesting self-portraits which help art fans to see into Warhol’s mind and discover how he saw himself. Some were also less than happy portrayals and showed a typical artist at odds with himself, so common amongst many of the greatest artists.

Mainstream art fans tend to be knowledgeable on the screen prints of Warhol, but maybe unaware of some of the other mediums in which he was involved. A true creative, he was an artist who wanted to use his talents in as wide a range as possible, taking in countless films, sculpture and photography. There was even two TV series on MTV entitled Andy Warhol’s TV and Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes.

The artist even became involved with computer generated images just as this techonology was becoming possible. Right up to his death, he was continuing to inovate and one can only guess as how he would have utilised the modern technology that has developed since.

Warhol also managed and produced a Punk rock band called the Velvet Underground and was involved in designs for many of their albums.

Warhol Stars is a term commonly used to describe a series of prints created by the artist which captured some of the most famous personalities of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Some of these portraits will be instantly recognisable, with portraits of Muhammed Ali, Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor being amongst the best known.

China’s revolutionary leader, Chairman Mao, always inspired a series of portraits, with Warhol seeing his image in China as akin to a major brand in the West, such as Coca Cola or McDonalds.

The art world has always been a relatively more liberal part of society and sexuality has often been more open and free, with new ideas more readily received. Warhol was openly gay at a time when it was still a taboo subject, much more than it is today. His openness is likely to have helped society to modernise along those lines because of his high profile in the media. Many famous gay artists in more recent years have been comfortable in discussing their sexuality thanks to the impact made by the likes of Warhol.

Famous Andy Warhol Quotes

In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke. Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too.

I’m for mechanical art. When I took up silk screening, it was to more fully exploit the preconceived image through the commercial techniques of multiple reproduction.

I love Los Angeles, and I love Hollywood. They’re beautiful. Everybody’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.

Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.

Famous Andy Warhol Artworks

This short biography is just a summary of the work of Warhol, and the list below highlights some of his career highlights. Detailed study of the artistic techniques involved with the following as well as the artist’s thoughts behind them, will provide a good starting point for discovering Warhol’s career.

  • Campbell’s Soup Cans
  • Marilyn Diptych
  • Green Coca Cola Bottles
  • Mao
  • Red Liz
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Elvis Presley
  • Marlon Brando
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Elizabeth Taylor
  • Daisy
  • Sunset
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Flowers
  • Jackie Kennedy

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