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1 American, born in Pittsburgh in 1928 died New York 1987
2 Best known as a Pop Artist, he was also a film maker, music producer all round creative
3 Andy Warhol prints of Marilyn Monroe, Campbell’s Soup Cans and Elvis are some of
the most iconic artworks in the world
4 His screenprint, “Eight Elvises” sold for $100 million in 2009. Only a handful
of artists have achieved this landmark price
5 His studio was called The Factory where he had assistants ‘mass produce’ his art
6 He was the mastermind behind The Velvet Underground and Nico
7 He was shot and nearly killed in 1968. Only 2 days before Robert F Kennedy was assassinated
8 In 1968 he coined the phrase, “In the future everybody will be world famous for
9 Andy loved cats and continued to paint them throughout his life
10 He famously wore wigs, one of which sold for $10,800 in 2006
10 fast and fab facts about Andy Warhol
Facts about Andy Warhol, Andy Warhol prints
Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1928. His parents
were working class emigrants from what is now Slovakia.
Warhol is perhaps most famous for his Pop Art screenprints of Marilyn Monroe and
Elvis Presley, However he was a serial entrepreneur in artistic endeavours, and he
was a successful record producer, film maker and author. His ambition from an early
age was to be part of the world of celebrity and to live the American Dream. He certainly
achieved that and mixed with the wealthy and famous, eventually becoming more famous
His early life did not really promise any of the fame and success he knew as an adult.
In Pittsburgh his father worked as a coal miner. In 3rd grade at school, Warhol developed
Chorea which is a disease of the nervous system, characterised by involuntary movements
of arms and legs along with blotchy skin. He was often confined to bed and missed
school. While off school he drew and collected pictures of movie stars. He admits
that this period defined his personality .
Left , Andy Warhol print, Campbell’s Soup
He travelled to New York in 1949 to fulfil his burning ambition to live the American
Dream. He became a commercial artist and illustrator for advertising agencies, he
was best known for his pen and blotted ink style illustrations. His distinctive almost
naive style was appealing and he became quite a sought after illustrator for magazines
including Vanity Fair. The explosion of the record industry and need for album cover
art led RCA to hire him for some of their artwork.
In his early New York years he was nicknamed “raggedy Andy” because he always seemed
to be wearing the same clothes. Initially he’d adopted the young preppy look, far
removed from his later persona as the fashionable tour de force that became Andy
Warhol ‘The Brand’. He started to wear wigs in the 60’s to cover baldness and later
his silver wigs became part of the Warhol image.
He was homosexual but as you may imagine from such a larger than life figure, he
had a complicated relationship with sex. Some speculate that Andy Warhol died a virgin.
However, he was a man surrounded by myths, many of which he spread himself, so it
is hard to know what to believe here.
In the early 60’s he moved away from commercial art and had his first exhibition
as a fine artist in Los Angeles in 1962.
During the 60’s he moved into Pop Art and began producing works featuring everyday
objects. This was true to the style of the Pop Art movement which started in England
in the 50’s. His subjects were Marylin Monroe, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor as
well as Campbells Soup cans, the latter a recurring and favourite subject of his.
He founded “The Factory”, his studio which became the place to be seen for anybody
who was anybody in the arts. Artists, film makers, film stars and writers were regular
visitors and added to the vibrant creative mix there. Warhol became interested in
film and he was an avid film maker, recording the seemingly endless daily gatherings
of visitors to The Factory. His first official film was entitled “Sleep” which featured
5 hours of his friend John Giomo sleeping. It debuted in 1964 to an audience of 9
people, two of whom left shortly after the start.
In 1964 he exhibited at an exhibition called ‘The Supermarket’. The event was presented
as if you were walking into a small American supermarket except that every product
in it had been ‘created’ by 6 prominent Pop Artists. Warhol prints of Campbells soup
sold for $1500 dollars but he’d also signed ordinary cans of soup which were for
sale at $6 dollars. The controversial exhibition was in part a reaction to the art
critics who had said that Warhol and others had sold out too much to commercialism
by featuring brand names so prominently in their artwork.
Also controversial was Warhol’s use of assistants to ‘mass produce’ his artwork.
These included various luminaries of the bohemian underground art scene as well as
screen printers who produced some of his most iconic works, albeit under his artistic
Left, part of Andy Warhol’s “Eight Elvises”,
His ‘open door’ policy at The Factory backfired in 1968 when Valerie Solanas a minor
member of The Factory coterie, shot Warhol and art critic Mario Amaya. Solanas had
previously appeared in a Warhol film called “I, a Man”. On the day of the shooting
she’d been refused entry to The Factory. When arrested she claimed that Warhol had
too much control over her life. Mario Amaya was released from hospital the same day
whereas Warhol was seriously injured and was lucky to survive the attack. He suffered
physically for the rest of his life and his artwork never recaptured the same pre
shooting spark. The Warhol shooting was quickly overtaken in the media by the assassination
of Robert F Kennedy only two days later.
It was the end of one era for Warhol and in the 70’s he reinvented his career, concentrating
on enticing the rich and famous to have their portraits painted. The Shah of Iran
and his wife, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Diana Ross and Brigitte Bardot all came under
the Warhol gaze.
Again he came under fire for producing work just for money and these portraits were
dubbed bland and with no artistic merit. In 1980 he compounded this by producing
ten portraits for the Jewish Museum, entitled Jewish Geniuses. Describing these portraits
in his diary he said, “They are going to sell “.
Warhol and Gerald Melanga’s launched Interview magazine and a quote in it from Warhol
perhaps sums up this, his most commercial period, “Making money is art, and working
is art and good business is the best art.”
He died in New York in 1987 after a routine gallbladder operation. In his will he
left the bulk of his estate to set up a foundation for the advancement of the visual
Andy Warhol was perhaps the most famous Pop Artist of the 20th century and his body
of work features many of the most well known images that we know today. It is perhaps
ironic that his work is now so well known that it itself has become part of mass
culture and Warhol prints are amongst the everyday objects often featured in other
pop artist’s work.
A creative genius he made films and produced music including the Velvet Underground.
In 1968 Warhol coined the phrase, “In the future everyone will be world-famous for
15 minutes.” (Perhaps anticipating the blogosphere,who knows?).
The highest price for a Warhol work of art was when his “Eight Elvises” sold for
$100,000,000 in 2009, only a handful of artists have achieved the $100 million price
tag. The highest price for one of his wigs was $10,800.
Andy Warhol prints are amongst some of the best selling reproductions in the world.
His fame has deservedly lasted much more than fifteen minutes.
Andy Warhol prints, posters and canvases grace living rooms, bedrooms and offices
the world over. We hope you’ve enjoyed our facts about Andy Warhol and we’ve inspired
you to own some of his iconic work for yourself.