Andy Warhol – Life and Works


I’d like to start off this essay by expressing some personal opinions about the subject I’ve chosen, and also provide some background information, essential to a better understanding of the artist I have chosen, the era and movement he belonged to, and the style of art he produced. This world renowned artist I believe is the first artist that comes to mind when people hear the word “Pop art”. This man is Andy Warhol, one of the most famous modern artists of the 20th Century.


This American painter, graphic artist, film maker, and writer, born to Czech immigrant parents, became enormously successful as a commercial artist. By 1956 he was earning $100.000 a year, and Warhol loved money. We see this in some of the things he said, for example, **“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art of all”. He began making most of his money through making paintings based on mass-produced images pulled out of mass media of the day. Warhol soon became the most famous, and in my opinion most controversial, figure in American Pop art. The process of silkscreen allowed him to create infinite replication, and this, I think, was part of his slightly eccentric personality, *“I want everybody to think alike. I think everybody should be a machine”. He used clippings of “dehumanized” illustrations from the mass media as his source of inspiration. He churned out his work like a production line, and called his studio “The Factory”.


In purely financial terms, because of his relentless self-promotion, he became a legend. Financing his own films, books and the well-known band “The Velvet Underground”, he was generous and encouraged new talent. Even after his death he made sure that this encouragement would carry on. He left a fortune estimated at $100.000.000, most of which went to create an arts charity, the Andy Warhol Foundation. His status as an artist, as I mentioned, still remains controversial. Even his most fervent admirers, including myself, tend to admit that be added little to his achievement as a painter after the mid-60’s.


I could perhaps say Warhol became more famous for his celebrity-courting lifestyle and deliberately bland persona than for his art. But I could also argue that his advertising skills were nowhere more brilliantly deployed than in promoting himself. I could say that Warhol and his lifestyle were the embodiment of sorts, of the American Pop culture of his day, but that would be incorrect because of the fact that there are many facets to Pop art that no individual could possibly fit them all. The only way I believe that any one can come close to defining Andy Warhol is by using one of his own quotes,


*“If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am, there’s nothing behind it”.


Andy Warhol (1928-1987),


Born Andrew Warhola in 1928, in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to immigrant parents from Czechoslovakia. His father, Andrei Warhola moved to the United States in order to avoid conscription after being married to Andy’s mother, Julia Zavacky Warhola, for three years. In 1921, after a separation of many years, Julia rejoined her husband in America. Andy Warhol was the youngest of their three sons and was raised as a Catholic. Andrei travelled much on business trips and died when Warhol was only 13. According to Warhol\'s mother, Julia, he had drunk poisoned water.


At school, most of his friends were girls. Margie Girman, one of his best friends, and Andy attended movies together. From an early age Warhol was interested in the more glamorous aspects of American life. He loved to collect the eight-by-ten inch autographed pictures that the ushers handed out after shows that began his collector’s mania. During his childhood, he was afflicted with chorea, a serious disorder of the central nervous system. As a result, he was very timid at school because of the shaking caused by his disorder. He also had a blotchy skin, and was taunted by his schoolmates. He became extremely attached to his mother, who nursed him back to health.


While he lived in Pittsburgh, Andy took advantage of the art classes