Throughout my report I shall be explaining about the legacy of Andy Warhol and his life growing up through to the Pop Art genre. I shall also discuss religious and family influences which helped him become an icon of today’s world despite his death in 1987 at the age of 58.
Andy Warhol was born by the name Andrew Warhola on the 6th of August 1928 in Pittsburgh. Before the birth of Andy his parents had been stated as ‘working class Rusyn emigrants’ when they lived in Mikova, Slovakia. By 1914 Andy Warhol’s father Ondrej moved and settled in the (Warhols mother) accompanying him in 1921. Ondrej was employed as a coal miner with the family making ends meet in their new home of 55 Beelen Street of a small neighbourhood in Pittsburgh.
During his childhood within third grade he developed a condition called St Vitus Dance of which is a disorder of the nervous system affecting movement. This affected his attendance throughout school and also became scared of visiting his doctors and hospitals. Throughout all of this spare time that Andy had he started a hobby of gathering together images of classic movie stars and had become obsessed with all things Hollywood, magazines and photography based; his parents adored Andy and in 1937 treated him to his first camera the brown brownie) where he took pleasure at capturing images and later produced them in his basement.
The Warholas were deep Byzantine Catholics and went to church on a routine basis. A lot of Andy Warhol’s artistic achievements were mostly influenced by the life of his family. For example he applied religious themes within his works mixing iconic paintings of the rich and famous to create attractive themes within his advertised pictures developed from original Rusyn egg painting by the name of Pysanky. To the left is a reproduction of Madonna and child, archived from the Warhola home.
An icon is more commonly referred to a religious painting from Eastern Christianity and were on display around a number of Catholic churches situated in the Eastern area. In today’s modern society an icon would be referred to as an actor of a popular film or television programme as well as musicians. There are also political and religious iconic faces such as Ghandi, Che Guevara and Mother Teresa. Andy was also influenced by renaissance icons and throughout his career created replicas of renaissance paintings such as the above print titled Warhol’s Venus, 1960 taken from Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, 1485.
“1942-1944 were some of the saddest years for Andy and the family” – a quote given my John Warhola stating that whilst living through WWII it had become the setting for the family’s difficult times. His father passed away in 1942 with his mother fighting cancer. During his father’s lifetime Ondrej took a great notice to Andy’s artistic talent and saved money throughout the years to later pay for his further education.
Between 1945 and 1949 Andy took classes at the Carnegie Institute of Technology where he later graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art in Pictorial Design. He was a good student who impressed and amazed his lecturers with his eccentric answers to problematic dilemmas and his strange unique style. Whilst studying at this institute he worked at Horne’s Department Store with dreams of eventually being an advertising illustrator. The image to the right is titled Women and Produce Truck was sketched in 1946. He used to sell his small sketches for 25 cents and also won a college achievement award for his works along with a $20 prize.
In 1949 he re-located to New York City where he worked as an advertising artist for over ten years. In September 1949 his illustrations were made public for the first time in Glamour magazine. He began to make a name for himself as one of the most sought after illustrators winning numerous awards and gathered a large clientele base. Displayed to the left is of multiple sketches by Warhol titled Winged Figures and fashion accessories.
He was creating his work from tracing photographs and other sourced images as well as employing his mothers unique and elegant style of handwriting into his works; he always paid tribute to his Mother Julia as ‘Andy Warhol’s Mother’. In 1952 Julia Warhola moved away from Pittsburgh to live with Andy for the next twenty years until her death in 1972.
Within this period he created the blotted line and rubber stamps technique to make beautiful works of illustration. The blotted line technique mixes printmaking and drawing together. Andy would duplicate a line drawing onto non-porous tracing paper. Afterwards he attached the tracing paper to a more thickly based paper and inked across a tiny part of the drawn lines with a fountain pen; he would then pass the ink onto the more absorbent sheet by creasing the pivot over with a gentle ‘blotting’ force of the two pages together. Shown opposite is an example of Andy’s sketches using the blotted line. For the rubber stamp technique it was simply pictures covered carved into rubber using a wooden holder to stamp the inked rubber picture. An example of this is detailed to the left.
By the 1960s Warhol became more commonly known as a Pop Artist; “once you got pop you could never see a sign the same way again. And once you thought pop, you could never see America the same way again”, quote taken from popism: the Warhol’s’ 60s.
It was 1961 when he began to create Pop Art as well as exhibit his works. In four decades he had made countless amounts of films, paintings, books, magazines, photography and a character that had become an iconic figure himself. This art movement became known in the middle of the 1950s starting in Britain. It questioned traditional aspects of art by mixing images together using advertising, comic books, magazines, marketing products and a range of media. It became a part of adolescent culture and pop music in the 50s and the early 60’s ready for the ‘swinging’ sixty’s. The Beatle’s album covers were created by Peter Blake while Warhol was celebrating the wonderfulness of Marilyn Monroe.
A future influence from his family’s jobs and life in Pittsburgh surrounded by factories had inspired him to build up his own factory by the name of the ‘silver factory’ in 1964. With this space Warhol was able to make huge amounts of paintings and sculptures. He also experimented with making short movies and exploratory works within his factory working together with dancers, poets, musicians and others situated around the arts community.
As well as the silver factory in 1964 Warhol and a collection of other pop artists worked together for the American Supermarket exhibition. The exhibition was built upon comparing art and store products to a performance and sales framework that were directed at the ‘cool and hygienic’ look of an up to date market. The gallery designed the exhibition as an actual store with different designed products displayed on shelves and in freezers.
Warhol’s Campbell soup was on display amongst Tom Wesselmann’s Turkey-Cock created from plastic and Robert Watt’s chrome steel eggs. This became Warhol’s most memorable pieces of are mainly because he already had a commercial backdrop and had an idea of how the general public would be yielded by the countless displays of soup cans as well as the other exhibits.
Throughout his life Warhol experimented with silkscreen printing. This was done by forming photographs from magazines, newspapers, etc and assigning the pictures over a surface in numerous or single interpretations as displayed in this image on the left of Mao.
With the high success of his exhibitions and the silver factory Warhol built up a large friendship with many musicians and aristocrats of the 60’s such as Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger of whom he socialised with at Studio 54 along with many other acquaintances in the name of Bianca Jagger, Liza Minnelli and Debbie Harry. Studio 54 was a sought after socialite club from 1977 to 1986 located in Manhattan. Before it became a glamorous club for the rich and famous the place was formally known as the Gallo Opera House which opened in 1927 and eventually became the Roundabout Theatre Company in 1998.
During the 1970s and 80s Warhol carried on with designing continuous works and doing business with younger up-coming artists like Keith Haring and Michel Basquiat. His work was exhibited around the world of which began in 1964 but by 1971 a remembrance of his art work were displayed in New York.
Andy Warhol sadly died on the 22nd of February 1987 by a cardiac arrest. The coffin was taken to the St John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery where he was later buried next to his brothers. His legacy and talents still live on with countless works on display around the world and inspiring younger artists.
well that was my essay for context class! sorry for the lack of visuals wordpress has decided that today i cannot upload images (sad times)