The expression (and I am paraphrasing here) “everyone wants be famous for 15 minutes” was credited to Andy Warhol. Was he talking about himself and or those around him? I believe deep down he was talking about himself. Others also ask was he an amazing genius or an oddball guru? Warhol, I believe, was a little bit of both. He was also actually somewhat shy, though clever enough to carefully create his own celebrity image where he could hide behind that famous silver wig and sunglasses.
Andy Warhol art reflected his appetite and fascination with fame. He managed to produce some the most talked about ‘art’ of the twentieth century which included objects and people like coca cola bottles and glamour shot of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis Presley to name a few.
Although, he produced some of the most talked about paintings, photographs, sculptures and movies, his most famous works of art were often screenprintings (and heaps of them!) This mode of mass production allowed him to sell his art, not much different from a can of Cambell’s soup. He called his studio ‘The Factory’ and managed to put a team of assistants to work almost like an assembly line.
The Factory became an important gathering place for artists, playwrights and eccentrics. However in the year 1968, Warhol was shot by Valerie Jean Solanas ( a radical feminist) and folllowing his attempted murder, he made his studio more private and selective and began painting portraits for celebrities.
Warhol was only 58 years of age when he died of a heart attack after a gall bladder operation on this day the 22nd of February 1987. Whether you like him or not, a genius or oddball, his images of movie stars and advertising images captured a unique period in art, and helped define American pop art in the 1960’s and & 70’s.
Furthermore, since his death his grave site at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery outside Pittsburgh has become a place of pilgrimage. It has become a practice amongst fans to leave a can of Cambell soup on his gravestone.
Photo Credit: B/W image of Andy warhol is used under the creative commons attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Photo by Jack Mitchell.
Categories: Art History