Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during the Great Depression. His family was from Slovakia, a country in central Europe. As immigrants, his family struggled to support themselves in America’s time of economic distress. According to Biography, Warhol grew up immersed in his Slovakian culture. He practiced his religion, Byzantine Catholic, regularly and often attended mass (“Andy Warhol”). When he was eight, he was diagnosed with a disease called Chorea. Warhol suffered from impaired movement and balance along with physical imperfections. While he was limited of activities due to the disease, he found his love for art. Later, he developed a love for film and photography. As Warhol continued his education, he took many art classes and decided to study Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University.
After Warhol graduated in 1949, he moved to New York in order to pursue a career in art (“Andy Warhol”). He quickly received a job as a commercial artist with prestigious magazines such as Glamour and Vogue. Pop Art, an art movement that referenced mass culture, was Warhol’s specialty. Most of his designs for magazines depicted bold images that spoke to the American culture. Through the eye-catching images he would create, Warhol gained popularity and credibility as an artist. One of Warhol’s best-known pieces, titled Campbell’s Soup Cans, was displayed at his first gallery exhibit. Warhol used a printmaking technique, used for reproducing images, to create the repetitive soup cans in Campbell’s Soup Cans, and he continued to use this technique throughout his career (MoMA Learning). Some of his other popular work includes portraits of celebrities, such as Maryland Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, painted in bright and bold colors. By his forties, Warhol was a very successful artist. Warhol transitioned into filmmaking to challenge his creative side and produced hundreds of films. Many of his films challenged the aesthetics of his time and therefore did not gain success. A well-known film of Warhol’s, titled Sleep, featured a man sleeping for the duration of five hours. According to The Warhol, most of Warhol’s art and films can be seen displayed at various museums in Pittsburgh today (“Andy Warhol’s Life”).
Many of Warhol’s art was inspired by his own personal struggles. Chorea, the disease Warhol contracted as a child, impacted him throughout his life. According to The Warhol, the disease had many side effects, such as hair loss and skin imperfections, that made Warhol insecure (“Andy Warhol’s Life”). Due to this, Warhol wore extravagant clothing and makeup to compensate for his insecurities. His fascination with beauty was reflected in his earliest work. Another personal theme that is resembled through Warhol’s work is sexuality. According to Affinity Magazine, Andy Warhol grew up as a gay man in the 1950’s and created controversial pieces for his time (Riddle). Despite societal norms, Warhol was not afraid to be himself. More health issues arose for Warhol when he developed issues with his gallbladder. In 1987, he was able to get his gallbladder removed but then died by cardiac arrest days into the recovery.
Warhol’s impact on the world continued after his death. Andy Warhol was considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. He radicalized the art world and inspired many. The common theme of Pop Art amongst his work spoke to the American people and their culture. Warhol drew attention to the rising of consumerism and mass production in America, which is still valid today. He also paved the way for LGBTQ+ artists to express themselves more freely. Overall, Andy Warhol will be remembered for challenging the societal norm and being a prominent facilitator of the Pop Art movement.
1.“Andy Warhol.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 6 Mar. 2020, www.biography.com/artist/andy-warhol.
2.“Andy Warhol’s Life.” The Andy Warhol Museum, www.warhol.org/andy-warhols-life/.
3.“MoMA Learning.” MoMA, www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/andy-warhol-campbells-soup-cans-1962/.
4.Riddell, Rachel. “How Andy Warhol Revolutionized Art & Sexuality.” Affinity Magazine, 13 Sept. 2016, affinitymagazine.us/2016/09/12/how-andy-warhol-revolutionized-art-sexuality/.