Andy Warhol (August 6, 1928 - February 22, 1987) was an American painter and major figure in the pop art movement.
Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, to Slovakian immigrants of Ruthenian ethnicity. He showed early artistic talent, and studied commercial art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now known as Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh. Upon graduating in 1949, he relocated to New York City and began a successful career in magazine illustration and advertising. He became well-known mainly for his whimsical ink drawings of shoes done in a loose, blotted style.
In the 1960s, he started to make paintings of famous American products like Campbell's soup cans and Coca-Cola. He switched to silkscreen prints, seeking not only to make art of mass produced items, but to mass produce the art itself. He hired and supervised "art workers" engaged in making prints, shoes, films, and other items at his studio, The Factory, located on Union Square in New York City.
The Factory was Warhol's studio from 1963 to 1969. The Factory was the hip hangout for artsy type, amphetamine users, and the Warhol superstars. This is where Warhol would make his silkscreens. It was covered with tin foil, silver "clouds" on the ceiling.
The Factory became a meeting place of artists and would-be artists such as Mick Jagger, Lou Reed, and Truman Capote. Warhol became the manager of the influential New York rock band The Velvet Underground in 1965.
On June 3, 1968, Valerie Solanas, a Factory regular, entered Warhol's studio and fired three shots at Warhol, nearly killing him. Although the first two rounds missed, the third passed through Warhol's left lung, spleen, stomach, liver, esophagus, and right lung. Solanas then turned the gun on a companion of Warhol, Mario Amaya, injuring his thigh. Although Warhol survived these injuries, he never fully recovered. Solanas later explained that "he had too much control over my life." The story of Valerie Solanas was made into the 1996 movie "I Shot Andy Warhol" starring Lili Taylor and directed by Mary Harron.
Although Warhol's friend Lou Reed, for one, never forgave Solanas for the attack and recorded "I Believe" with John Cale, singing "I believe/I would've pulled the switch on her myself. " Mr. Warhol himself ultimately forgave Valerie for shooting him and later satirized the whole event in a subsequent movie of his, calling a group similar to Solanas' S.C.U.M. (Society for Cutting Up Men), P.I.G. - politically involved girlies.
In the 1970s and 1980s he mainly made prints of famous people such as Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.
Besides his influence as a painter, Warhol was known as a highly proficient filmmaker. Between 1963 and 1968, he made more than sixty films. His most famous one, Sleep (1963), shows a man (John Giorno, who had a relationship with Warhol) sleeping for eight hours. In the 35 minute film Blow Job (1963), he shows the face of a man receiving fellatio. Warhol's character has also been represented in several motion pictures. He has been portrayed by Crispin Glover, David Bowie, and Jared Harris, in The Doors, Basquiat, and I Shot Andy Warhol, respectively.
Warhol created the fashion magazine Interview that is still published today. The loopy title script on the cover is thought to be either his own handwriting or his mother's, who would often do text work for his early commercial pieces.
Warhol used to socialize at Serendipity and Studio 54, nightclubs in New York City. One of Warhol's favorite pop bands was Blondie; at one of the shows on their final tour in 1982 he also "fell in love" with both the music and the pretty looks of their opening act, Duran Duran. He maintained a friendship with the band (and especially keyboardist Nick Rhodes) for many years.
The Andy Warhol Museum is located in the North Shore district of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is the largest American art museum dedicated to a single artist.
Warhol was generally regarded as quiet and a meticulous observer. More than one person jokingly referred to him as "death warmed over." He had a keen eye for art in general and furthered the Duchamp-esque notion that if you simply point at something and call it "art," it is. He was openly gay, rare for celebrities of his stature at the time, and paid tribute to many male friends and workers in his private art and collections. An organized collector, he tossed almost every piece of paper, fan mail and magazine related to his fame along with personal notes, (gay) porn, and found artifacts into hundreds of numbered boxes and set them aside. Many of these exist today and are available for research at his Pittsburgh museum.
Warhol would regularly volunteer at the homeless shelters in New York, particularly during the busier times of the year.
Warhol died in New York City following routine gall bladder surgery. He was only 58 years old. He is interred at St. John the Baptist Catholic Cemetery south of Pittsburgh. Fellow artist Yoko Ono was among the speakers at his funeral.