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Andrew Warhola Biography

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Andrew Warhola Biography

Andrew Warhola (August 6, 1928–February 22, 1987), better known as Andy Warhol, was an American artist and a central figure in the movement known as pop art. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became famous worldwide for his work as a painter, an avant-garde filmmaker, a record producer, an author, and a public figure known for his membership in wildly diverse social circles that included bohemian street people, distinguished intellectuals, Hollywood celebrities and ....

Childhood and early career
Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Andy was the third child of his parents, Ondrej (Andrew) Warhola (the surname was spelled Varchola in Europe, and was modified after immigrating to America) and Julia Warhola, née Ulja (Julia) Justyna Zavacky. His parents were working-class immigrants of Lemkos-Rusyns (Ruthenian) ethnicity from Mez
In third grade Warhol had St. Vitus' dance, a nervous system disease causing involuntary movements which is believed to be a complication of scarlet fever, and which causes blotchiness in skin pigmentation of his skin. He became somewhat of a hypochondriac, developing a fear of hospitals and doctors. Often bed-ridden as a child, he became an outcast among his school-mates and bonded with his mother very strongly (Guiles, 1989). When in bed he drew, listened to the radio and collected pictures of movie stars around his bed. Warhol later described this period as very important in the development of his personality, skill-set and preferences.

Warhol showed an early artistic talent and studied commercial art at the School of Fine Arts at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh (now Carnegie Mellon University).
In 1949, he moved to New York City and began a successful career in magazine illustration and advertising. During the 1950s, he gained fame for his whimsical ink drawings of shoe advertisements. These were done in a loose, blotted ink style, and figured in some of his earliest showings in New York at the Bodley Gallery. With the concurrent rapid expansion of the record industry and the introduction of the vinyl record, Hi-Fi, and stereophonic recordings, RCA Records hired Warhol, along with another freelance artist, Sid Maurer, to design album covers and promotional materials.
The 1960s
It was during the 1960s that Warhol began to make paintings of famous American products such as "Campbell's Soup Cans" from the Campbell Soup Company and Coca-Cola, as well as paintings of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Troy Donahue, and Elizabeth Taylor. He founded "The Factory", his studio during these years and gathered around himself a wide range of artists, writers, musicians, and underground celebrities. He switched to silkscreen prints which he produced serially, seeking not only to make art of mass-produced items but to mass produce the art itself. By minimizing the role of his own hand in the production of his work and declaring that he wanted to be "a machine", Warhol sparked a revolution in art. His work quickly became very controversial and popular.

Warhol's work from this period revolves around American Pop (Popular) culture. He painted dollar bills, celebrities, brand name products and images from newspaper clippings - many of the latter were iconic images from headline stories of the decade (e.g. photographs of mushroom clouds, and police dogs attacking civil rights protesters). His subjects were instantly recognizable and often had a mass appeal. This aspect interested him most and it unifies his paintings from this period. Take for example Warhol's comments on the appeal of Coke:

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 know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.
This quotation both expresses his affection for popular culture, and evidences an ambiguity of perspective that cuts across nearly all of the artist's statements about his own work.

New York's Museum of Modern Art hosted a Symposium on pop art in December 1962 during which artists like Warhol were attacked for "capitulating" to consumerism. Critics were scandalized by Warhol's open embrace of market culture. This symposium set the tone for Warhol's reception. Throughout the decade it became more and more clear that there had been a profound change in the culture of the art world, and that Warhol was at the center of that shift.

A pivotal event was the 1964 exhibit "The American Supermarket" a show held in Paul Bianchini's Upper East Side gallery. The show was presented as a typical small supermarket environment, except that everything in it from the produce, canned goods, meat, posters on the wall, etc. were created by six prominent pop artists of the time including the controversial (and like-minded) Billy Apple, Mary Inman, and Robert Watts. Warhol's painting of a can of Campbell's soup cost $1,500 while each autographed can sold for $6. The exhibit was one of the first mass events that directly confronted the general public with both Pop Art and the perennial question of what is art.

Andy Warhol and fellow pop artist Billy Apple show their "products" during the 1964 show The American Supermarket. His Brillo boxes sold for $350 each.

Andy Warhol and fellow pop artist Billy Apple show their "products" during the 1964 show The American Supermarket. His Brillo boxes sold for $350 each.

As an advertisement illustrator in the 1950s, Warhol used assistants to increase his productivity. Collaboration would remain a defining (and controversial) aspect of his working methods throughout his career; in the 1960s, however, this was particularly true. One of the most important collaborators during this period was Gerard Malanga. Malanga assisted the artist with producing silkscreens, films, sculpture, and other works at "The Factory", Warhol's aluminum foil-and-silver-paint-lined studio on 47th Street (later moved to Broadway). Other members of Warhol's Factory crowd included Freddie Herko, Ondine, Ronald Tavel, Mary Woronov, Pietro Psaier, Billy Name, and Brigid Berlin (from whom he apparently got the idea to tape record his phone conversations). During this decade, Warhol also groomed a retinue of bohemian eccentrics upon whom he bestowed the designation "Superstars", including Edie Sedgwick, Viva, and Ultra Violet. These people all participated in the Factory films, and some, like Berlin, remained friends with Warhol until his death. Important figures in the New York underground art/cinema world (e.g. writer John Giorno, film-maker Jack Smith) also appear in Warhol films of the 1960s, revealing Warhol's connections to a diverse range of artistic scenes during this period. By the end of the decade, Andy Warhol was himself a celebrity, appearing frequently in newspapers and magazines alongside Factory cohorts like Sedgwick.
On June 3, 1968, Valerie Solanas shot Warhol and art critic and curator Mario Amaya at Warhol's studio.

Before the shooting, Solanas had been a marginal figure in the Factory scene. She founded a "group" called S.C.U.M. (Society for Cutting up Men) and authored the S.C.U.M. Manifesto, a separatist feminist attack on patriarchy. Solanas appears in the 1968 Warhol film, I, A Man. Earlier on the day of the attack, Solanas had been turned away from the Factory after asking for the return of a script she had given to Warhol. The script, apparently, had been misplaced.
Amaya received only minor injuries and was released from the hospital later the same day. Warhol however, was seriously wounded by the attack and barely survived (doctors opened his chest and massaged his heart to help stimulate its movement again). He suffered physical effects for the rest of his life. The shooting had a profound effect on Warhol's life and art.

Solanas was arrested the day after the assault. By way of explanation, she said that "He had too much control over my life." After the shooting, the Factory scene became much more tightly controlled, and for many this event brought the "Factory 60s" to an end.

The shooting was mostly overshadowed in the media due to the murder of Robert F. Kennedy two days later. On recalling the event of the shooting Warhol stated, "Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there. I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life."
The 1970s
Compared to the success and scandal of Warhol's work in the 1960s, the 1970s would prove a much quieter decade. This period, however, saw Warhol becoming more entrepreneurial. According to Bob Colacello, Warhol devoted much of his time to rounding up new, rich patrons for portrait commissions—including Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli, John Lennon, Diana Ross, Brigitte Bardot, and Michael Jackson. Warhol's famous portrait of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong was created in 1973. He also founded, with Gerard Malanga, Interview magazine, and published The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (1975). In this book, he presents his ideas on the nature of art: "Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art."

Warhol used to socialize at Serendipity 3 and, later in the 70s, Studio 54, nightspots in New York City. He was generally regarded as quiet, shy, and as a meticulous observer. Art critic Robert Hughes called him "the white mole of Union Square".

The 1980s
Warhol had a re-emergence of critical and financial success in the 1980s, partially due to his affiliation and friendships with a number of prolific younger artists, who were dominating the "bull market" of '80s New York art: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, David Salle and the so-called Neo-Expressionists, as well as Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi and members of the Transavantguardia movement, which had become influential.

By this period, Warhol's work had engendered controversy as to whether he had merely become a "business artist". In 1979 unfavorable reviews met his exhibits of portraits of 1970s personalities and celebrities, calling them superficial, facile and commercial, with no depth or indication of the significance of the subjects. This criticism was echoed for his 1980 exhibit of ten portraits at the Jewish Museum in New York, entitled "Jewish Geniuses", which Warhol, who exhibited no interest in Judaism or matters of interest to Jews, had described in his diary as "They're going to sell."

In hindsight, however, some critics have come to the realization that Warhol's superficiality and commerciality was in fact "the most brilliant mirror of our times", and that "Warhol had captured something irresistible about the zeitgeist of American culture in the 1970s."

Warhol also had an appreciation for intense Hollywood glamour. He once said: "I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They're so beautiful. Everything's plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic."

őlaborc, now Medzilaborce, of Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in northeast Slovakia). Warhol's father migrated to the USA in 1914, while his mother joined him in 1921, after the death of Andy Warhol's grandparents. Warhol's father worked in a coal mine. The family lived at 55 Beelen Street and later at 3252 Dawson Street in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The family was Byzantine Catholic and attended St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church. Andy Warhol has two older brothers John and Paul.