Andy Warhol

Biography of Andy Warhol
Photo: Jack Mitchell / CC BY-SA 2.0

Andy Warhol Biography

Andrew Warhola, widely recognized as Andy Warhol, was a famous and controversial cartoonist, painter, plastic artist, film director, and American publicist. He was born on August 6, 1928, in Pittsburgh and died in New York, on February 22, 1987, at 58 years of age.

Warhol was a participant in the consolidation of modern art, for his contributions to pop art, identified by representing images of popular culture. He always tried to capture the characteristics of everyday objects and thus expose the essence of his country, for example, a bottle of Coca-Cola or the paint of a can of Campbell Soup (1962). However, his work was rejected by critics repeatedly and judged negatively by mixing in excess the world of business, consumerism, and commercial, with the art world. Despite so many reproaches, Warhol’s work kept alive the question about what art is and who should decide it.

Warhol started as an illustrator. Then he went into pop art, using painting as a means of expression. He then devoted himself to painting completely everyday objects that can represent the consumerist and capitalist American environment, where the personal became public and adopted an expressionless character. He also dedicated himself to portray celebrities.

At that time the cinema appeared, and Warhol decided to be a director. His works exposed an experimental character, with a point of view located in the marginalized belonging to the subcultures of the moment; they are too long films, with irreverent and unconventional themes and arguments. Sleep, for example, where the actor slept for six hours; or Empire, eight hours, where the view from the Empire State is shown. After the attack that would experience, Warhol, moved away from the film production.

Andy Warhol was the third son of Andrej and Julia Warhola, both of Slovak origin. In his childhood, he suffered from Sydenham’s chorea, a disease that affects the nervous system and causes involuntary movements. He was also a hypochondriac. For long periods he could not leave his bed, he was just drawing. Sometime later, he would enter the Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, to study commercial art. Then, he would travel to New York City, to work as an illustrator and designer of album covers and other commercial items, such as shoe advertisements. In relation to this job, later, at the beginning of the 70s, he would work on the covers of the Sticky finger and Love you live of the Rolling Stones.

Between November 6 and 24, 1962, Warhol presented his first exhibition in New York, at the Stable Gallery. Then, he created a studio or workshop called The Factory which began to become popular. In 1965, Warhol became manager of the group The Velvet Underground but only lasted a few months. On the musical level, apart from his closeness to renowned singers, Warhol caught the attention of David Bowie, it can even be considered as an influence for him; in 1971 one of Bowie’s songs would be titled, Andy Warhol.

On the other hand, the decade of the 60s would conclude with a not so lucky event. On June 3, 1968, the writer Valerie Solanas shot him. She was a member of The Factory and the publicist would produce one of her plays but lost the draft. Warhol received two shots that caused serious injuries, despite this, he refused to testify against Solanas. She was admitted to a mental clinic. It is likely that the incident had other reasons.

In 1969, Warhol launched his fashion magazine Interview. In the decade of 1970, he was dedicated to portraying artists of the stature of Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Elizabeth Taylor or Michael Jackson. Warhol also worked for BMW, painted the company’s vehicles that would be exhibited in exhibitions of a line called BMW Art Car. In 1975, he published the book the philosophy of Andy Warhol: from A to B and from B to A. Most of the texts that he edited, when they were not collections of images, approximate the format of his personal diary; he also approached the editing and transcription of fragments of telephone conversations. Warhol used to record his conversations, including those made in person; he was always accompanied by a portable recorder.

In the 1980s, he strengthened ties with some neo-expressionist groups and movements of the trans-avant-garde. He also participated in several productions with Miguel Bosé, a portrait and an appearance in one of his music videos. However, the sales of their exposures decreased. Warhol continued to portray various personalities from the political and economic world.

As an artist, he always refused to comment on his work. Most of his audiovisual and plastic creations addressed the subject of sexuality. However, Warhol did not make any personal comments about his inclinations; Regarding his religious beliefs, he always was considered a member of the Byzantine Roman Catholic Church, he even went to church quite frequently.

On February 22, 1987, Andy Warhol died of a postoperative arrhythmia after a gallbladder procedure. After the respective ceremony, the coffin was left in the Byzantine Catholic Cemetery of San Juan Bautista, in Pittsburgh. The coffin was buried next to a edition of the magazine Interview. That same year the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts was created. In his hometown, there is a space dedicated to commemorating his life and work: the Andy Warhol Museum.

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