Andy Warhol, one of the most influential artists of the latter part of the 20th century, is born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A frail and diminutive man with a shock of silver-blond hair, Warhol was a major pioneer of the pop art movement of the 1960s but later outgrew that role to become a cultural icon.
Warhol was the son of immigrants from Czechoslovakia, and his father was a coal miner. For years, there was confusion as to his exact date and place of birth because Warhol gave conflicting accounts of these details, probably out of embarrassment of his provincial origins. “I’d prefer to remain a mystery,” he once said. “I never give my background and, anyway, I make it all up different every time I’m asked.” He enrolled in the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) and graduated with a degree in pictorial design in 1949. That year, he moved to New York City, where he found work as a commercial illustrator. After being incorrectly credited as “Warhol” under an early published drawing, he decided to permanently remove the “a” from his last name.
He began painting in the late 1950s and took literally the advice of an art teacher who said he should paint the things he liked. He liked ordinary things, such as comic strips, canned soup, and soft drinks, and so he painted them. In 1962, he received notoriety in the art world when his paintings of Campbell’s soup cans, Coca-Cola bottles, and wooden replicas of Brillo soap-pad boxes were exhibited in Los Angeles and New York.
In 1963, he dispensed with the paintbrush and began mass-producing images of consumer goods and celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy. These prints, accomplished through his use of a silk-screen technique, displayed multiple versions of the same image in garish colors and became his trademark. He was hailed as the leader of the pop art movement, in which Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and others depicted “popular” images such as a soup can or comic strip as a means of fusing high and low culture and commenting on both.
Although shy and soft-spoken, Warhol attracted dozens of followers who were anything but. This mob of underground artists, social curiosities, and hangers-on operated out of the “Factory,” Warhol’s silver-painted studio in Manhattan. In the mid-1960s, Warhol began making experimental films, employing his friends as actors and billing them as “superstars.” Some of his films were monumental essays on boredom, such as the eight-hour continuous shot of the Empire State Building in Empire (1964), and others were gritty representations of underground life, like The Chelsea Girls (1966). He also organized multimedia events such as “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable” and sponsored the influential rock group the Velvet Underground. In 1968, Warhol was shot and nearly killed by Valerie Solanas, a follower who claimed he was “exercising too much influence” over her life.
READ MORE: Andy Warhol Was Shot By Valerie Solanas. It Killed Him 19 Years Later
After more than a year of recuperation from his wounds, Warhol returned to his career and founded Interview magazine in 1969, his take on the celebrity magazine. He became a fixture on the fashion and jet-set social scenes and was famous for pithy cultural observations like, “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” Meanwhile, he continued to produce commercially successful silk-screen prints of entertainment and political figures.
In the 1980s, after a period of relative quiet in his career, he returned to the contemporary art scene as a mentor and friend to a new generation of artists, including Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. With the rise of postmodern art, he came to be regarded as an archetypal role model by many young artists. On February 22, 1987, he died in the hospital of a heart attack shortly after a gall bladder operation. In 1994, the Andy Warhol Museum opened in Pittsburgh.
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Andy Warhol © Warhol was an US painter, film-maker and author, and a leading figure in the Pop Art movement.
Andrew Warhola was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His parents had emigrated to the USA from Ruthenia, a region now in the Slovak Republic.
Between 1945 and 1949 Warhol studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. In 1949, he moved to New York and changed his name to Warhol. He worked as a commercial artist for magazines and also designed advertising and window displays.
In the early 1960s, he began to experiment with reproductions based on advertisements, newspaper headlines and other mass-produced images from American popular culture such as Campbell's soup tins and Coca Cola bottles. In 1962, he began his series portraits of Marilyn Monroe. Other subjects given similar treatment included Jackie Kennedy and Elvis Presley. The same year he took part in the New Realists exhibition in New York, which was the first important survey of Pop Art.
In 1963, Warhol began to make experimental films. His studio, known as the Factory, became a meeting point for young artists, actors, musicians and hangers-on. One of these, Valerie Solanas, shot and seriously wounded him in 1968.
Warhol was now established as an internationally famous artist and throughout the 1970s and 1980s exhibited his work around the world.
On 22 February 1987, Warhol died unexpectedly in a New York hospital following a gall bladder operation.
Early Life and Education
Andy Warhol was born on Aug. 6, 1928, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and grew up there with his older brothers, Paul and John, and his parents, Andrej and Julia Warhola, both of whom had emigrated from Czechoslovakia (now called Slovakia). Devout Byzantine Catholics, the family regularly attended Mass and observed their Eastern European heritage.
Even as a young boy, Warhol liked to draw, color, and cut and paste pictures. His mother, who was also artistic, encouraged him by giving him a chocolate bar every time he finished a page in his coloring book.
Elementary school was traumatic for Warhol, especially once he contracted Sydenham's chorea, also known as St. Vitus' dance, a disease that attacks the nervous system and makes the sufferer shake uncontrollably. Warhol missed a lot of school during several month-long periods of bed rest. Additionally, large, pink blotches on Warhol's skin, also from the disorder, didn't help his self-esteem or acceptance by other students. This led to nicknames such as “Spot” and “Andy the Red-Nosed Warhola” and a lifelong interest in clothing, wigs, cosmetics, and, later, plastic surgery in response to what he perceived as his flaws.
During high school, Warhol took art classes there and at the Carnegie Institute (now the Carnegie Museum of Art). He was somewhat of an outcast because he was quiet, could always be found with a sketchbook in his hands, and had shockingly pale skin and white-blond hair. Warhol also loved to go to movies and started a collection of celebrity memorabilia, particularly autographed photos. A number of these pictures appeared in Warhol's later artwork.
Warhol graduated from high school and then went to the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1945, graduating in 1949 with a major in pictorial design.
Andy Warhol - Biography and Legacy
Andy was the third child born to Czechoslovakian immigrant parents, Ondrej and Ulja (Julia) Warhola, in a working class neighborhood of Pittsburgh. He had two older brothers, John and Paul. As a child, Andy was smart and creative. His mother, a casual artist herself, encouraged his artistic urges by giving him his first camera at nine years old. Warhol was known to suffer from a nervous disorder that would frequently keep him at home, and, during these long periods, he would listen to the radio and collect pictures of movie stars around his bed. It was this exposure to current events at a young age that he later said shaped his obsession with pop culture and celebrities. When he was 14, his father passed away, leaving the family money to be specifically used towards higher learning for one of the boys. It was decided by the family that Andy would benefit the most from a college education.
After graduating from high school at the age of 16 in 1945, Warhol attended Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), where he received formal training in pictorial design. Shortly after graduating, in 1949, he moved to New York City, where he worked as a commercial illustrator. His first project was for Glamour magazine for an article entitled, "Success is a Job in New York." Throughout the 1950s Warhol continued his successful career in commercial illustration, working for several well-known magazines, such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and The New Yorker. He also produced advertising and window displays for local New York retailers. His work with I. Miller & Sons, for which his whimsical blotted line advertisements were particularly noticed, gained him some local notoriety, even winning several awards from the Art Director's Club and the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
In the early 1950s, Andy shortened his name from Warhola to Warhol, and decided to strike out on his own as a serious artist. His experience and expertise in commercial art, combined with his immersion in American popular culture, influenced his most notable work. In 1952, he exhibited Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote in his first individual show at the Hugo Gallery in New York. While exhibiting work in several venues around New York City, he most notably exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, where he participated in his first group show in 1956. Warhol took notice of new emerging artists, greatly admiring the work of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, which inspired him to expand his own artistic experimentation.
In 1960, Warhol began using advertisements and comic strips in his paintings. These works, examples of early Pop art, were characterized by more expressive and painterly styles that included clearly recognizable brushstrokes, and were loosely influenced by Abstract Expressionism. However, subsequent works, such his Brillo Boxes (1964), would mark a direct rebellion against Abstract Expressionism, by almost completely removing any evidence of the artist's hand.
In September 1960, after moving to a townhouse at 1342 Lexington Avenue, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, he began his most prolific period. From having no dedicated studio space in his previous apartment, where he lived with his mother, he now had plenty of room to work. In 1962 he offered the Department of Real Estate $150 a month to rent a nearby obsolete fire house on East 87 th Street. He was granted permission and used this space in conjunction with his Lexington Avenue space until 1964.
Continuing with the theme of advertisements and comic strips, his paintings throughout the early part of the 1960s were based primarily on illustrated images from printed media and graphic design. To create his large-scale graphic canvases, Warhol used an opaque projector to enlarge the images onto a large canvas on the wall. Then, working freehand, he would trace the image with paint directly onto the canvas without a pencil tracing underneath. As a result, Warhol's works from early 1961 are generally more painterly.
Late in 1961, Warhol started on his Campbell's Soup Can paintings. The series employed many different techniques, but most were created by projecting source images on to canvas, tracing them with a pencil, and then applying paint. In this way Warhol removed most signs of the artist's hand.
In 1962 Warhol started to explore silkscreening. This stencil process involved transferring an image on to a porous screen, then applying paint or ink with a rubber squeegee. This marked another means of painting while removing traces of his hand like the stencil processes he had used to create the Campbell's Soup Can pictures, this also enabled him to repeat the motif multiple times across the same image, producing a serial image suggestive of mass production. Often, he would first set down a layer of colors which would complement the stencilled image after it was applied.
His first silkscreened paintings were based on the front and back faces of dollar bills, and he went on to create several series of images of various consumer goods and commercial items using this method. He depicted shipping and handling labels, Coca-Cola bottles, coffee can labels, Brillo Soap box labels, matchbook covers, and cars. From autumn 1962 he also started to produce photo-silkscreen works, which involved transferring a photographic image on the porous silkscreens. His first was Baseball (1962), and those that followed often employed banal or shocking imagery derived from tabloid newspaper photographs of car crashes and civil rights riots, money and consumer household products.
In 1964 Warhol moved to 231 East 47 th Street, calling it "The Factory." Having achieved moderate success as an artist by this point, he was able to employ several assistants to help him execute his work. This marked a turning point in his career. Now, with the help of his assistants, he could more decisively remove his hand from the canvas and create repetitive, mass-produced images that would appear empty of meaning and beg the question, "What makes art, art?" This was an idea first introduced by Marcel Duchamp, whom Warhol admired.
Warhol had a lifelong fascination with Hollywood, demonstrated by his series of iconic images of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. He also expanded his medium into installations, most notably at the Stable Gallery in New York in 1964, replicating Brillo boxes in their actual size and then screenprinting their label designs onto blocks made of plywood.
Wanting to continue his exploration of different mediums, Warhol began experimenting with film in 1963. Two years later, after a trip to Paris for an exhibition of his work, he announced that he would be retiring from painting to focus exclusively on film. Although he never completely followed through with this intention, he did produce many films, most starring those whom he called the Warholstars, an eccentric and eclectic group of friends who frequented the Factory and were known for their unconventional lifestyle.
He created approximately 600 films between 1963 and 1976, ranging in length from a few minutes to 24 hours. He also developed a project called The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, or EPI, in 1967. The EPI was a multi-media production combining The Velvet Underground rock band with projections of film, light and dance, culminating in a sensory experience of Performance Art. Warhol had also been self-publishing artist's books since the 1950s, but his first mass produced book, Andy Warhol's Index, was published in 1967. He later published several other books, and founded Interview Magazine with his friend Gerard Malanga in 1969. The magazine is dedicated to celebrities and is still in production today.
After an attempt on his life in 1968, by acquaintance and radical feminist, Valerie Solanas, he decided to distance himself from his unconventional entourage. This marked the end of the 1960s Factory scene. Warhol subsequently sought out companionship in New York high society, and throughout most of the 1970s his work consisted of commissioned portraits derived from printed Polaroid photographs. The most notable exception to this is his famous Mao series, which was done as a comment on President Richard Nixon's visit to China. Lacking the glamour and commercial appeal of his earlier portraits, critics saw Warhol as prostituting his artistic talent, and viewed this later period as one of decline. However, Warhol saw financial success as an important goal. At this point, he had made the successful shift from commercial artist to business artist.
Late Years and Death
In the late 1970s and 1980s, Warhol made a return to painting, and produced works that frequently verged on abstraction. His Oxidation Painting series, which were made by urinating on a canvas of copper paint, echoed the immediacy of the Abstract Expressionists and the rawness of Jackson Pollock's drip paintings. By the 1980s, Warhol had regained much of his critical notoriety, due in part to his collaboration with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Francesco Clemente, two much younger and more cutting-edge artists. And, in the final years of Warhol's life, he turned to religious subjects his version of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper is particularly renowned. In these works, Warhol melded the sacred and the irreverent by juxtaposing enlarged logos of brands against images of Christ and his Apostles.
After suffering postoperative complications from a routine gall bladder procedure, Warhol died on February 22, 1987 at the age of 58. He was buried in his hometown of Pittsburgh. His memorial service was held in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and attended by more than 2,000 people.
Andy Warhol is born - HISTORY
Sorting Fact from Fiction in Andy Warhol’s Family History
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Andy Warhol.
During his lifetime Andy was known for blurring the lines between fact and fiction. He often falsely reported his place of birth as Philadelphia or McKeesport, Pennsylvania, instead of his home city of Pittsburgh. He even went as far as having Alan Midgette, an actor in some Warhol films, impersonate him for a series of college lectures in 1967. Today, Warhol scholars face the same challenges as many genealogists of sorting through evidence to determine which purported facts are true and which ones are myths.
Excerpt from article detailing Andy Warhol’s history with Pittsburgh published in the Pittsburgh Press on 4 June 1968
Lately, I have been researching what it takes to become a Board Certified Genealogist. One of the competencies you must demonstrate is the ability to determine in the face of conflicting evidence what is more likely to be true. Because of Warhol’s habit of bending the truth, I think about conflicting evidence a lot at my job at the archives of the Andy Warhol Museum. Recently, I came across more conflicting evidence in our collection from a less-likely source, Andy’s mother.
This all began when my co-workers at the Warhol Museum realized it would be useful to have a list of the siblings of Andy’s mother, Julia Warhola, to help identify people in family letters and photos in the collection. Like my great-grandfather, Andy was the son of immigrants from Slovakia (specifically, they were of the Rusyn ethnic group primarily in the eastern region). As such, I knew that Slovakian Parish Registers were digitized and partially indexed on Family Search. I thought it would be relatively straightforward to type in Julia’s parents’ names and come up with a list of their children, instead, I found something more interesting. But before we get into that, here is a little background information on Andy’s ancestry.
Note: Since the publication of this post, many of these Parish registers in Miková have been restricted in accordance with Slovakian laws as they include records that are less than 100 years old. As such, many of the links below are broken.
Andy Warhol’s Mother
Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania on 6 August 1928. He was the son of András (Andrew) and Julia (Zavacky) Warhola.
Many well-known sources list Julia’s birthday as being 17 November 1892, including several published books, Wikipedia, and even her headstone.
Julia’s parents were András and Justina (Mročko) Zavacky. They were married in the town of Miková in north-east Slovakia on 3o June 1876 (entry 6). The parish registers for Miková are digitized, partially indexed, and available for free via FamilySearch.
First, I searched the collection using her parent’s names (leaving off Justina’s last name because of spelling variations) and limiting the search to birth records in Mikova.
This returned several results, but some of the records were duplicates, so there were ten unique records of the children of András and Justina Zavacky (in most records the surname was spelled Zavaczki). Here is a summary of the records:
- (entry 12) (entry 25) (entry 7) (entry 6) (entry 5) (Andras’ birth was recorded twice in the church books of Mikova) (entry 34) (entry 36) (Juliana’s birth and baptism were recorded twice in the church books of Mikova) (entry 11 & 12) (entry 6) (entry 13) (entry 14) (entry 2)
After 1901, the church books are no longer indexed, but by browsing through the pages, I found two additional daughters of András and Justina:
In this initial search, there was one entry for a daughter named Juliana Zavaczki who was born on 20 November 1891 and baptized two days later on 22 November. This record didn’t match Andy’s mother’s presumed birthday of 17 November 1892, but the date and month aren’t too far off.
Entry for Juliana Zavaczki in the church registers of Mikova. (Click to Enlarge)
I am confident that this is the actual correct birth record for Julia Warhola and that she was born in 1891. This is because I am fortunate to work in the archives at the Andy Warhol Museum where I digitize many of the objects found in the museum’s collection. I remember a while ago I scanned copies of Julia’s birth and marriage records as a part of one of Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules. I looked up the images, and I found that the certified copy of Julia’s birth certificate that was sent to her in 1953 matched exactly what is in the parish registers.
Birth Certificate (Julia Warhola), 1953
TC522.118.6. Collection of the Andy Warhol Museum. Image courtesy of the Andy Warhol Museum.
By 1953, Julia had moved to New York City to live with her son as he started his career as an up and coming advertising illustrator and artist. She lived with Andy in New York for most of the remainder of her life, until she became ill and returned to Pittsburgh before her death in 1972. It would make sense that a certified copy of her birth record would be in Andy’s possession and eventually end up in one of his Time Capsules. In terms of genealogical evidence, this seems like solid proof that Julia was in fact born on 20 November 1891. But why do so many sources still have her birth date wrong?
Possible Origins of the Wrong Birth Date
To pin down where the confusion regarding Julia’s birth date stemmed from, I searched for other genealogy records to see if her age is consistent with her being born in November of 1891.
The next vital record after her birth is the marriage record for her and András, which is also contained in one of Andy’s Time Capsules.
Marriage Certificate (Andrej and Julia Warhola), 1941
TC522.118.7. Collection of the Andy Warhol Museum. Image courtesy of the Andy Warhol Museum.
From this record, we learn that she married András Varchola on 24 May 1909 in Miková at the age of 17. In doing the math, if she were born on 20 November 1891, she would have been 17 years six months four days old at the time of her marriage. Had she been born in 1892, the record would have stated she was 16 years old (I find this age calculator is helpful in verifying ages on a specific date).
As a side note, the original entry in the church registers can be viewed here (entry 3) with spelling variations in the given and surnames. The drastic differences in the names are likely a result of the Magyarization that occurred in the Austrian-Hungarian empire after laws to force assimilation into the Hungarian culture in 1907.
The next record I found that gives Julia’s age is the passenger list showing her arrival in America. She was the first entry on the page, and her first name was spelled “Ula,” a shortened version of”Ulya,” which was a common Slovak variation of the name Julia. She arrived aboard the S.S. Celtic on 11 June 1921. Her age was listed as 29 years old, and she was living with her brother “Nurks” Zavacky in Miková and was going to live with her husband, András Varhola at 2425 Forbes Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Once again, being 29 years old on 11 June 1921 is consistent with Julia being born in November of 1891.
Interestingly, it looks like she traveled with another woman from Mikova, Ilona Kalinak, and her son, Jan Kalinak. Ilona’s husband, Stefan, lived next to András Warhola at 2430 Forbes Ave.
Passenger list showing Julia Warhola’s arrival on 15 June 1921 (Click to Enlarge)
The next record that lists her age is the 1930 Federal Census, which shows that in 1930 Julia and András (Andrew) were living at 55 Beelen Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Julia’s age was listed as 37 years old. Interestingly, the census was enumerated on 9 April 1930 and Julia was 38 years old on that date. Perhaps this is one of the records that lead people to believe she was born in 1892, but errors in ages, especially as small as one year, are common in Federal Census records. The accuracy of this data also depends on who was reporting the information to the census taker.
The Warhola Family in the 1930 Federal Census (Click to Enlarge)
The Warhola Family in the 1940 Federal Census (Click to Enlarge)
Ten years later, in the 1940 Federal Census, the Warhola family is listed at their home at 3252 Dawson Street in Pittsburgh. Julia’s age was listed as 48 years old, and since the census was enumerated on 12 April 1940, it is consistent with her being born in 1891. It is also important to note that the small “x” in a circle next to Julia’s name indicates that she was the one giving information to the census taker, this makes the information slightly more reliable than the 1930 record since we know it came from Julia herself.
Pennsylvania death records after 1963 are restricted to family and legal representatives of the deceased, so we can’t see what birth date is recorded on Julia’s death certificate. However, anyone who has done a lot of genealogy research knows that even birth dates listed on death certificates are limited by the knowledge of the informant and can be inaccurate due to lapses in memory. It’s possible that her birth date for her headstone was taken from her death certificate and because headstones are genealogical records that are accessible to the public, they are often used as sources for death dates.
Clearing up More Warhola Family Myths
As I was researching Julia’s family, I found several other discrepancies between what was written about Andy’s family and what the genealogical record showed.
First, not only is Julia’s birthdate wrong on her headstone, but her husband’s birth date is also incorrect. In searching the Miková parish registers, I found that András’s birthdate is actually on 7 December 1886, and not 28 November 1886 as listed on his death certificate and headstone.
Andras Warhola’s Birth Record (Click to Enlarge)
Moreover, one Andy Warhol biographer writes of András and Julia’s first child, a daughter, named Justina, who was born in 1913 and died at six weeks old. Their first child was a girl, but her name was Maria, and she was born on 2 November 1912, and she died one month later on 4 December 1912. Sadly, she died shortly before her father András arrived in Pittsburgh in 1912. It is likely he never even met his daughter, given the time it took to travel from Miková to Pittsburgh.
Maria Warhola’s birth and death records in 1912 (Click to Enlarge)
The Importance of Evaluating Sources
Many times genealogists (myself included) are thrilled to find a headstone with exact dates in working in places where vital records may be lacking. If that date is close enough to match other records, like Julia’s birth date, we record the information and accept it unless additional contradictory evidence is found.
This research on Julia highlights two ways in which you can evaluate a source to determine its accuracy.
First, think of the source in the context and time in which it was created. For example, Julia’s death certificate and headstone were made over 80 years after she was born and thousands of miles away from Miková. While birth dates derived from death records can be a good reference or starting off point, as we can see from this example, there can be flaws. Typically, the source closest to the event tend to be more accurate.
Second, consider who is giving the information to create the record. Obviously, Julia couldn’t provide her birth date for her death certificate, but we do know that she was the one to speak to the census enumerator in 1940, which put her birth in 1891 and not 1892.
Julia’s headstone and the numerous publications about Andy Warhol’s family with incorrect information are great examples of why it’s important to continually evaluate sources for their reliability and why it pays off to gather as much evidence as possible. It goes to show that a genealogist’s work is never done, even 30 years after his death, we are still untangling the mysteries of Andy Warhol.
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Andy Warhol's Factory
As detailed in Pop by Tony Sherman, in 1963, Andy Warhol moved his base of operations from an abandoned firehouse to the fifth floor of 231 East 47th Street in Midtown Manhattan. The cavernous former hat factory would be transformed into Warhol's wonderland — a citadel for the manufacture of art and a magnet for outsiders, celebrities, drug addicts, and drag queens.
Having marveled at the "silverized" apartment of his friend, hairdresser and self-proclaimed magician Billy Linich, Warhol employed him to give his new studio the same treatment. Covering every surface in silver paint and aluminum foil, Linich transformed the space into a shining art palace that evoked both the space-age future and Hollywood nostalgia. "It was the perfect time for silver," Warhol wrote. "Silver was the future. It was spacey [. ] And sliver was also the past — the Silver Screen [. ] And maybe more than anything else, silver was narcissism — mirrors were backed with silver."
Warhol's new studio, the Factory, lived up to its name. With help of hired assistance and hangers-on, the artist produced his silk-screened paintings on a virtual assembly line not unlike the mass-produced products many of them depicted — an irony not lost on Warhol.
The original Factory lasted until 1967, when the building was sold to make way for an apartment complex. Those four years were among the most productive of Warhol's career, during which the artist would experiment with sculpture and film, expanding pop art from an artistic movement to a personal philosophy and lifestyle.
There&rsquos no doubt that Andy Warhol&rsquos art showcased food, especially processed foods, but his relationship with food extended beyond his commentary on consumerism and mass-produced products. Warhol, born Andrew Warhola to working class immigrant parents, grew up in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania during the Depression. His childhood not only shaped his interest in art, but also left an impact on how he viewed food. In his 1975 book, &ldquoThe Philosophy of Andy Warhol,&rdquo he comments on food, &ldquohis &ldquogreat extravagance.&rdquo He wrote, &ldquoI really spoil myself, but then I try to compensate by scrupulously saving all of my food leftovers and bringing them into the office or leaving them in the street and recycling them there. My conscience won&rsquot let me throw anything out, even when I don&rsquot want it for myself&hellip.the leftovers usually turn out to be meat because I&rsquoll buy a huge piece of meat, cook it up for dinner, and then right before it&rsquos done I&rsquoll break down and have what I wanted for dinner in the first place&mdashbread and jam. I&rsquom only kidding myself when I go through the motions of cooking protein: all I ever really want is sugar.&rdquo
The most popular example of sugar Warhol depicted in his art was Coca-Cola. To Warhol, it was amazing that &ldquoAmerica 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 Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too.&rdquo
Andy Warhol didn&rsquot immediately gain international fame for his paintings of soda bottles when he moved to New York in 1949. He started his career as a commercial artist, which is when he developed his characteristic blotted line technique. From the beginning he had hopes of breaking into the fine arts, although the first works he submitted to a gallery were rejected on the basis that they were &ldquotoo openly gay.&rdquo While not a gallery, Serendipity, an ice cream parlor and a Manhattan staple, offered to hang his paintings on its walls in hopes that they would sell. They did sell and Warhol was soon hosting &ldquoparties&rdquo at &ldquohis table&rdquo he would create the blotted outline and his friends would color in the prints of butterflies and flowers while everyone enjoyed some frozen sweets.
The renowned interior designer Suzzie Frankfurt supposedly saw Warhol&rsquos work at Serendipity and after meeting Warhol for lunch the two decided to collaborate on a humorous cookbook, making fun of the strict French cookbooks popular in the 1950s. &ldquoWild Raspberries&rdquo was published in 1959 and included recipes for Dorothy Killgallen&rsquos Gateau of Marzipan, a cake inspired by a journalist and game show panelist, and Baked Hawaii, which was made up of lemon ice cream and green meringue.
This wasn&rsquot Warhol&rsquos first published book. In 1953, he collaborated with Ralph T. Ward (&ldquoCorkie&rdquo) on &ldquoLove is a Pink Cake,&rdquo a satirical collection of poems about history&rsquos famous, often tragically unhappy, couples. Corkie and Warhol has a creative friendship, but many believe that they were also had a romantic one. Warhol was very open about his sexuality at a time when homosexuality was criminalized in New York, and while it dictated a lot of his art, it wasn&rsquot a constant theme.
Campbell&rsquos Soup cans, on the other hand, were a theme that Warhol played with quite a bit. Warhol was obsessed with mechanization and the ability to repeat and reproduce images again and again. Warhol took a product that he throughly enjoyed as a child and successfully turned it into fine art. Similarly, Warhol liked the concept of accessible food and had a deep appreciation for automats, the vending-machine fast food restaurants beloved in the 50s and 60s, and the classic lunch counter establishment like Schrafft&rsquos, which he made a commercial for in 1969. Warhol&rsquos appreciation of this solitary and effective style of eating led him to the beginning stages of opening up his own chain, called ANDY-MATS: &ldquo&lsquoThe Restaurant for the Lonely Person.&rsquo You get your food and then you take your tray into a booth and watch television.&rdquo The menu was to included shepard&rsquos pie, key lime pie, and a &ldquosignature &lsquonursery cocktail&rsquo of milk on the rocks.&rdquo
Warhol&rsquos personal and artistic connection with food is as fun as it is fascinating, and shows the complexity of him and his story. He is remembered as a revolutionary leader of the Pop Art movement, a gay icon, and someone who helped define what fine art was in the modern era.
Andy Warhol And His Artistic Influence
American Pop artist Andy Warhol was one of the most significant and prolific figures of his time, his works exploring the connection between celebrity culture and artistic expression. Warhol had already cemented his place in the art community early in his career, and bequeathed an international audience with an eccentric collection of some of history’s most vibrant works upon his untimely death in 1987. We take a closer look at the mysterious man behind some of the world’s most iconic works of art.
Andy Warhol was born to Slovakian parents in 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When he was eight years old, he contracted Chorea (a neurological disease), which confined him to bed. To keep him entertained during his recovery, his mother gave him drawing lessons. Warhol developed a love for the medium, and he continued to draw in his spare time upon regaining his health. In 1942, Warhol enrolled at Schenley High School, and after graduating in 1945, he studied Commercial Art at the Carnegie Institute for Technology – now Carnegie Mellon University. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Pictorial Design in 1949.
Warhol went on to become an illustrator for Glamour magazine, which placed him as a leading figure in the 1950s Pop Art movement. His aesthetic was a unique convergence of fine art mediums such as photography and drawing with highly commercialized components revolving around household brand and celebrity names. Garnering international attention for his unique productions, Warhol loved to maintain an element of personal and professional mystery, admitting that he never discussed his background and would invent a new persona every time he was asked.
Warhol’s artworks introduced a fascinating new form of artistic expression. In 1961, he unveiled the concept of Pop Art and showcased a collection of paintings that focused on mass-produced commercial goods. In 1962, he exhibited his iconic paintings of Campbell’s soup cans. He went on to showcase works depicting hamburgers and Coca Cola bottles, alongside portraits of quirky celebrities such as Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe. He employed several mediums to create his works, including photography, silk screening, and printmaking. In 1964, Warhol opened his own art studio called ‘The Factory’, where he worked and liaised with society’s elite.
The world was fascinated with Andy Warhol – his look, his aesthetic, and the attitude of his Pop Art movement. However, the attention he garnered wasn’t always positive. On June 3, 1968, radical feminist Valerie Solanas shot Andy Warhol and Mario Amaya – a curator at Warhol’s studio. Amaya suffered only minor injuries, but Warhol was seriously injured and nearly died. Solanas was sentenced to three years in prison under the discipline of the New York Department of Corrections. Warhol was quoted, “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. People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it’s the way things happen in life that’s unreal.”
However, the attack didn’t stop Warhol’s artistic endeavors. He was the first artist to use the Amiga computers introduced in 1984 to digitally generate new art forms. Warhol also tried his hand at sculpting, and even worked in television, hosting Andy Warhol’s TV and Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes on MTV. In his later years, he founded Interview Magazine and wrote several books, including The Philosophy of Andy Warhol.
Warhol died unexpectedly in New York in 1987 following a gallbladder operation, and the Andy Warhol Foundation was founded that same year in accordance with the artist’s will. He wanted his entire estate (with the exception of a few items delegated to family members) to comprise a new foundation dedicated to the “advancement of the visual arts.” The Foundation supports the creation and presentation of contemporary visual art to this day. In 1994, The Andy Warhol Museum opened as one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. The building dates back to 1911, originally used as a distribution center. It was redesigned by architect Richard Gluckman, and today it houses a part of Warhol’s legacy, containing 900 paintings as well as sculptural works, works on paper, and photographs from all stages of the artist’s life and career.
Warhol’s personal life remained a mystery to the public until the day he died, which served as a part of this iconic figure’s allure. His legacy lives on in the art world, history, and pop culture, and his works are some of the highest-grossing in history. His portrait, Eight Elvises, resold for $100 million in 2008, making it one of the most valuable paintings in history. A visual art and cultural pioneer, Warhol will forever be known for his quirky, controversial prints.
By the 1980s Warhol became recognized as a cultural celebrity himself, associating with musical icons from the Beatles and famous models including Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor. Much of Warhol&rsquos works from his final decade were commissioned works, as by this point he had a distinctive style and audience of buyers. Beyond his painting and prints, Warhol was also fascinated with moving image since as early as the 1960s. He was often seen with a camera strapped around his neck, seeing photography and video as the next step in the art world. By the 1980s he got the opportunity to star in his own show on MTV, &ldquoAndy Warhol&rsquos 15 Minutes&rdquo, which featured him interacting with a mix of cultural icons including Keith Haring, David Hockney, and Paloma Picasso. In only five episodes Warhol was able to feature 100 guests, mirroring his vast variety of people featured in his artworks. Warhol also created a series of self portraits, the year prior to his death. Prior to this series, Warhol shied away from showing his face head on in his works, but this time around he recognized that his own face was now an icon as well.
&ldquoArt is anything you can get away with&rdquo &ndash Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol was the lead pop artist, his infamous Warhol soup cans, Marilyn Monroe, and Warhol Flowers are some of the most recognized images in the world.