01 October, 2018

Andy Warhol - Where does Artifical End and The Real Begin?

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was an American artist, author, director and producer who played a leading role in the rise of Pop Art.

Originally trained as a fine artist, he graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1949.

He moved to New York and became a successful commercial illustrator after scoring jobs at the likes of Glamour and Vogue magazine.

Trivia - It was at this time, he changed his name from Andy Warhola to Andy Warhol. 

He started to exhibit his own work at galleries during the 50s and started venturing into pop art from the advice of a friend.

What is Pop Art?

Pop art is a visual art movement led by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and others.

What these artists realised was the fact that everything is connected and they illustrated this in their work.

One of the hallmarks of Pop Art is the acknowledgement that there is no hierarchy and inspiration can come from any source. It helped to create a new dynamic in our perceptions of everyday objects and people.

To take his art to new level Andy Warhol opened a studio and called it "The Factory", in 1962.

The Factory 

The name itself is a reference for his work which featured mass-produced products and well-known celebrities.

Located in Manhattan, it became a hot spot for parties attended by socialites and celebrities. Some of the attendees to his parties appeared in his films. What's interesting about Warhol was his perception of art. 

"Making money is art and working is art, and good business is the best art." - Andy Warhol.

It's hard to think that an attempted assassination from Valerie Solanas, a radical feminist in 1968 would change both of their lives forever. Valerie was arrested and Warhol was left with a surgical corset for the remainder of his life.

Andy Warhol Art Style

Warhol's early success came from screen printing. This method allowed him to mass produce art which became synonymous with the movement. 

Screen printing enabled the user to separate a design with individual colours. These colours are marked out with a stencil on a screen (usually wooden with a mesh stretched over it). The different coloured inks are transferred one at a time through the stencil to form a picture. 

Printing enabled Warhol to repeat a basic image and then create different variations with it.

Famous Works by Andy Warhol

Warhol's art was quite unique and contained messages that referenced culture and society. For example, obsessions over celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor or mass-produced goods such as supermarket products.

His work divided opinion because his art could criticise our growing obsessions of materialism and celebrities. Or, living the life that his work criticised because he was fond of money and fame.

Here are some of Andy Warhol's most famous artworks.

Marilyn Diptych - Life and Death

This is a painting a fantastic example of symbolism and considered a major influence of modern art. 

Warhol worked on two themes and used a painting consisting of 50 images (25 are in colour and 25 in black and white). The themes were celebrities and death. The number of images represents her continued appearance in the media. The diptych style goes back to the Byzantine times and represents immortality. 

Campbells Soup Cans

At the time this work was created, Campbells sold 32 varieties of soup. Warhol painted 32 individual cans and displayed them as one portrait. This piece is a fantastic reference to mass advertising.

Trivia - Gallery owner, Muriel Latow inspired Warhol to paint soup cans explaining it's an example of products people use every day.

Brillo Boxes

Following in the footsteps of Campbells Soup Cans, this painting 'Brillo Boxes' is a painting depicting stackable products found in supermarkets.

Final Words

Growing up, Andy suffered from Chorea, a disease of the nervous system. Leaving him bedridden for several months, he was given art lessons by his mother. After developing a talent, he was also given a camera and it was here where his many talents started to take form.  

After the death of his father, the impact it had on Andy was significant. His father witnessed the emerging talents of Andy and ensured he went to higher education by leaving money behind for him. 

His move to New York would change his life and the future of Art with the emergence of a new art style.

He later died in 1987 from complication following gallbladder surgery. His legacy is The Andy Warhol Foundation and a museum in his hometown of Pittsburgh. You can various works in the Art Institute of Chicago, The Tate Gallery and more.

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Andy Warhol - The Eccentric Icon
Andy Warhol - The Eccentric Icon
Andy Warhol - The Eccentric Icon
Andy Warhol - The Eccentric Icon