Warhol, Andy

Warhol, Andy, 1928–87, American artist and filmmaker, b. Pittsburgh as Andrew Warhola. The leading exponent of the pop art movement and one of the most influential artists of the late 20th cent., he is regarded by some as the most important artist of his era. Though he described himself as self-taught, he attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology before he moved to New York City in 1949. At first working in commercial design, mainly creating women's-wear designs, he became a gallery artist in the 1960s, introducing silkscreen into his paintings in 1962. Warhol concentrated on the surface of things, believing in the power of the banal, choosing his imagery from the world of commonplace objects such as dollar bills, soup cans, soft-drink bottles, flat and bright flowers, bright pink cows wallpaper, and scouring-pad boxes. He is variously credited with ridiculing or celebrating American middle-class values by erasing the distinction between popular and high culture. Monotony and repetition became the hallmarks of his multi-image, mass-produced silk-screen paintings; for many of these, such as the portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy, he employed newspaper photographs. Over 25 years he and his assistants worked out of a series of four large New York studios, each dubbed the “Factory.” Beginning with Sleep (1963), Warhol experimented with filmmaking, suppressing the personal element in marathon essays on boredom. For The Chelsea Girls (1966), a largely improvised, voyeuristic look at life in New York's Chelsea Hotel, he also employed split-screen projection techniques that diverged from established methods. Among his later films are Trash (1971) and L'Amour (1973). With Paul Morrissey, Warhol also made the films Frankenstein (1974) and Dracula (1974). Many of the films featured amateur actors and friends Warhol dubbed “superstars.” In 1973, Warhol launched the magazine Interview, a publication centered on his fascination with the cult of the celebrity. He died from complications following surgery. The Andy Warhol Museum, which exhibits many of his works, opened in Pittsburgh in 1994.

See biography by B. Gopnik (2020); studies by Arthur Danto (mid-1960s on).

See his autobiographies (1969 and 1971); K. Goldsmith, ed., I'll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews, 1962–1987 (2004); C. Ratcliff, Andy Warhol (1983); D. Bourdon, Warhol (1989); V. Bockris, Life and Death of Andy Warhol (1989); B. Colacello, Holy Terror (1990); W. Koestenbaum, Andy Warhol (2001); S. Watson, Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties (2004); D. Dalton and T. Scherman, Pop: The Genius of Andy Warhol (2009); A. C. Danto, Andy Warhol (2009); B. Gopnik, Warhol (2020).

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