Illustrator Andy Warhol was one of the most prolific and popular artists of his time, using both avant-garde and highly commercial sensibilities.
Born on August 6, 1928, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Andy Warhol was a successful magazine and ad illustrator who became a leading artist of the 1960s Pop art movements. He ventured into a wide variety of art forms, including performance art, filmmaking, video installations and writing, and controversially blurred the lines between fine art and mainstream aesthetics. Warhol died on February 22, 1987, in New York City.
When he graduated from college with his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1949, Warhol moved to New York City to pursue a career as a commercial artist. It was also at this time that he dropped the "a" at the end of his last name to become Andy Warhol. He landed a job with Glamour magazine in September, and went on to become one of the most successful commercial artists of the 1950s. He won frequent awards for his uniquely whimsical style, using his own blotted line technique and rubber stamps to create his drawings.
Campbell's Soup Cans
In the late 1950s, Warhol began devoting more attention to painting, and in 1961, he debuted the concept of "pop art" — paintings that focused on mass-produced commercial goods. In 1962, he exhibited the now-iconic paintings of Campbell's soup cans. These small canvas works of everyday consumer products created a major stir in the art world, bringing both Warhol and pop art into the national spotlight for the first time.
British artist Richard Hamilton described pop art as "popular, transient, expendable, low cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, big business." As Warhol himself put it, "Once you 'got' pop, you could never see a sign the same way again. And once you thought pop, you could never see America the same way again."
Warhol's other famous pop paintings depicted Coca-cola bottles, vacuum cleaners and hamburgers.
He also painted celebrity portraits in vivid and garish colors; his most famous subjects include Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Mick Jagger and Mao Zedong. As these portraits gained fame and notoriety, Warhol began to receive hundreds of commissions for portraits from socialites and celebrities. His portrait "Eight Elvises" eventually resold for $100 million in 2008, making it one of the most valuable paintings in world history.
Obsessed with celebrity, consumer culture, and mechanical (re)production, Pop artist Andy Warhol created some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. As famous for his quips as for his art—he variously mused that “art is what you can get away with” and “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”—Warhol drew widely from popular culture and everyday subject matter, creating works like his 32 Campbell's Soup Cans (1962), Brillo pad box sculptures, and portraits of Marilyn Monroe, using the medium of silk-screen printmaking to achieve his characteristic hard edges and flat areas of color. Known for his cultivation of celebrity, Factory studio (a radical social and creative melting pot), and avant-garde films like Chelsea Girls (1966), Warhol was also a mentor to artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. His Pop sensibility is now standard practice, taken up by major contemporary artists Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami, and Jeff Koons, among countless others.