Contemporary Art, 1960s–present

Pop Art

Who was Andy Warhol?

Andy Warhol (1928–1987) was an iconic artist-celebrity whose pop art images of Campbell’s soup cans and film celebrities continue to be highly recognizable and immensely valuable. Popularly known for his bleach-blond hair, dark sunglasses, and turtle-neck sweaters, Andy Warhol was interested in stripping mass media images of their symbolic value, thus rendering them anew. Born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Warhol studied at the Carnegie Institute and moved New York City in 1949, where he began a career in commercial art. He also worked in painting, printmaking, sculpture, and film.

Warhol’s New York studio, dubbed, “The Factory,” was where Warhol and his team of assistants used silk screen machines to mass produce images. His goal was to mechanically produce familiar images until they no longer held any meaning, like saying the same word over and over until it sounds like nonsense. This explains paintings such as Fragile-Handle with Care, which depicts the word “fragile” repeatedly, until the words become nearly abstract. Similarly, Warhol made an eight-hour-long film of the Empire State Building, created using a single, drawn-out shot. Warhol’s work dominated the 1960’s art and fashion scene, and he continued to push boundaries into the 1980s, with celebrity portraits and continued exploitation of celebrity.

Early Colored Liz (1964) is a color lithograph of the famous actress Elizabeth Taylor overlaid with areas of flat color. (Art courtesy The Bridgeman Art Library, © 2013 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society [ARS], New York.)


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