Andy Warhol Biography
Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987) defined the Pop Art movement. Obsessed with celebrity, consumer culture, and mechanical (re)production, Pop artist Andy Warhol created some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. Like his contemporaries Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, Warhol responded to mass-media culture of the 1960s. His silkscreens of cultural and consumer icons—including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Campbell’s Soup Cans, and Brillo Boxes—would make him one of the most famous artists of his generation.
In 1964, Warhol rented a studio loft on East 47th street in Midtown Manhattan which was later known as The Factory. The artist used The Factory as a hub for movie stars, models, and artists, who became fodder for his prints and films. The space also functioned as a performance venue for The Velvet Underground. During the 1980s, Warhol collaborated with several younger artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, and Keith Haring.
Although Andy Warhol is generally known for his famous silkscreen prints of celebrities and soup cans, photography was an integral part of both his artistic practice and his personal life. He especially embraced the automatic, serial, and mechanical properties of the polaroid camera that resulted in instant feedback. The plastic camera created by Polaroid called “The Big Shot,” became such an elemental part of Warhol’s work that he called it his “pen and pencil.” Warhol carried this camera, along with other Polaroid models, and eventually a Minox 35EL film camera, with him everywhere from the late 1950s until his death in 1987. During that time, Warhol created a “visual diary." He obsessively photographed and recorded his daily life and social circle alongside his commercial and professional projects, blurring the line between art and commerce, and private and public.
The artist died tragically following complications from routine gall bladder surgery at the age of 58, on February 22, 1987 in New York, NY. After his death, the artist’s estate became The Andy Warhol Foundation and in 1994, a museum dedicated to the artist and his oeuvre opened in his native Pittsburgh. Today, his works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Tate Gallery in London, among others. A major retrospective of Warhol's work took place at the Whiney Museum of Art in New York in 2019.