Andy Warhol – Icon of the Pop Art Movement

Andy Warhol was the most popular figure in the pop art movement that came up in the 1950s in the United States and Great Britain. During his career he produced paintings, films, commercials, print ads and other works of art.

Andy Warhol’s parents came to America from Czechoslovakia at the beginning of the 20th century. As a boy Andy liked to draw and cut up pictures. The family lived in Pittsburgh, where Warhol’s father worked in a coal mine. While in high school Warhol took art classes and drew sketches at the Carnegie Museum. He liked to go to the movies and started collecting fan articles of famous movies and stars. These objects appeared later on in Warhol’s works.

Warhol studied art in Pittsburgh and after moving to New York in 1949 he began work as an illustrator for magazines such as the New Yorker or Vogue. During this time he started using a special technique to draw images for ads. Andy Warhol became unsatisfied with this job and wanted to have his pictures shown in art galleries.

Andy Warhol
Image:Bernard Gotfryd, Public domain,
via Wikimedia Commons

During the 1960s Andy Warhol concentrated on painting realistic pictures of everyday items. This style became known as pop art. Among his most famous paintings were comic strips, images of Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, Coca Cola bottles and the electric chair. His probably best known painting is the famous Campbell soup can. In his drawings Warhol simplified objects and portraits, and painted them in many different colors.

The center of Warhol’s life was his art studio, called the Factory. There he met many other famous artists and celebrities. The Factory was also used as a film studio in which Andy Warhol produced many of his famous underground films. They usually had no special plot but were very long. In one of them he shows a man sleeping for five hours.

In 1968 a frustrated actress, Valerie Solanas, walked into Warhol’s studio and shot the artist. Although he had already been pronounced dead, doctors managed to reanimate him and save his life. Warhol never fully recovered from this incident.

During the 1970s and 80s Warhol continued to paint with the same silk screen technique that had made him popular but, in some way, his career was declining. In 1987 Warhol died at the age of 58 during a routine gall bladder operation.

Andy Warhol had a unique personality. He was a declared homosexual who liked to be famous and stand in the spotlights. He liked to be surrounded by flashy characters like Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison. The Andy Warhol Museum, in Pittsburgh is the largest art museum dedicated to one single artist. It holds more than 12,000 works of the icon of pop art. The highest-priced painting is Eight Elvises , images of Elvis Presley, which was sold for over 100 million dollars.


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