Biography of Andy Warhol
With his uncanny ability to tap into the Zeitgeist, Andy Warhol changed the course of art history forever and altered the way contemporary life is perceived. Using mass-produced techniques to fabricate his work, the artist challenged long established beliefs about the nature of art and abolished the distinction between popular culture and high art. The child of Czechoslovakian migrants, Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh in 1928 and studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology before moving to New York in 1949. He quickly made a name for himself as a highly successful commercial artist, working for Glamour Magazine where his talent as a draughtsman and stylist was plain to see.
Andy Warhol’s actual rise to fame began with the opening in 1962 of his now legendary studio, The Factory—a landmark meeting point for iconic actors, musicians (such as the Velvet Underground), and bizarre characters. His first paintings of duplicated banal subjects such as soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles were followed by his paintings of celebrities. By 1962 Andy Warhol realized that screenprinting—which up until then had been viewed with skepticism because of its utilization of industrial techniques—could be harnessed to produce prints and be used as an art form in its own right. With the help of assistants Andy Warhol produced series of flowers, cows, portraits, and cartons of well-known household products. Later he would turn his focus on video art, producing over 60 films, one of which shows a man eating a mushroom for 45 minutes.
Andy Warhol’s achievement was in both celebrating and satirizing consumerism and pop culture. He thoroughly enjoyed the trappings of his celebrity status, attending trendy nightclubs like Studio 54 and reveling in the fame, wealth, and commercial drive of American life. Yet his work revealed an evident contradiction as his images of tainted pop icons and brand images portrayed a society obsessed with money and celebrity. This dichotomy existed throughout his life and work.
Andy Warhol, who died in 1987 in Manhattan, is considered the “bellwether” for the art market. His painting Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster), 1963, sold for a staggering $105 million in 2013, and his works often make headlines for breaking auction records. He is a mainstay of every major collection around the world and features in the permanent collections of all prominent contemporary art museums. Recent exhibitions of his works have been held at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the Gagosian Gallery in New York. The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania holds the largest collection of Andy Warhol’s artworks and archival materials.