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Andy Warhol – Pop Culture Olivia Bender Period 2 Throughout history, people have earned fame for creating an idea that has had a great impact on society. Although Andy Warhol did not create the idea of pop art, he is one of the main artists who contributed the art and work to what we now call pop culture. He is famous for his mass production of screen prints, which eventually became a theme for pop art, and his portraits of celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. Andy Warhol, a great artist of the 1900s (mainly the 1950s and 60s), has had a major influence on American art and culture. Andy Warhol was born on August 6th, 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His real name was Andrew Warhola, a name given to him by his Slovakian parents. His mother and father immigrated from Miková, a small part of the former Austro- Hungarian Empire, now an area of North Eastern Slovakia. Warhol was the younger of two older brothers, Ján and Pavol, who were born in today’s Slovakia. Andy showed an early talent in drawing and painting, and had many obstacles in his life that contributed to the fact that he expressed his feelings through art. In third grade, he was diagnosed with a nervous system disease called chorea. Chorea causes involuntary movements of the extremities and is believed to be a complication of scarlet fever. It also causes skin pigmentation and blotchiness. Because of this disorder, Andy became an extreme hypochondriac and developed a fear of hospitals and doctors, which was bad for his health and left his disease hard to treat. He was often bedridden and therefore became an outcast at school. Instead of having many friends, Andy developed a strong bond with his mother. Many times while he was in bed, he resorted to drawing, listening to music and collecting pictures of celebrities. In turn, this became a very distinct part of his life and important in the development of his personality and artistic skills. By the age of 13, Andy’s father died in an accident, leaving him depressed and confused. Shortly after graduating High School, Andy studied commercial art at the School of Fine Arts at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh for 4 years. He graduated in 1949 and then moved to New York where he began magazine illustrations and advertising. He worked for extremely famous magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and The New Yorker, and soon became one of New York’s most successful commercial artists. Andy’s career was beginning to sky rocket. In the 1950s he was famous for his ink drawings of shoe advertisements that were done in a loose, blotted style. He was also being hired to create album covers for RCA Records, during the time of the introduction of the vinyl record. Although Warhol is considered mainly a “pop” artist, he also created some fine art. His first exhibition as a fine artist was a one-man art-gallery in 1962 in Los Angeles. This helped mark the West Coast debut of pop art. He was most famous for his newest works such as the Marilyn Diptych, 100 Soup Cans, 100 Coke Bottles and 100 Dollar Bills. Andy was also now known for painting images of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali and Troy Donohue. Unfortunately, Warhol’s work became controversial. The main goal of his artwork was to remove the difference between fine arts and the commercial arts. "When you think about it, department stores are kind of like museums". –Andy Warhol (W a n c z u r a , D i e t e r . " A n d y W a r h o l - 1 9 2 8 - 1 9 8 7 . " A r t e l i n o . a r t e l i n o G m b H , 0 1 O c t 2009. Web. 4 Dec 2010. <http://www.artelino.com/articles/andy_warhol.asp>.) Warhol founded “The Factory” in 1962, which was a building in Union Square that he and his workers used as a studio to mass-produce screen prints of pop culture. He also extended his career by creating 16 millimeter films with names like “Chelsea Girls” and “Blow Job”. The Factory was not just a studio, but was also used as a meeting place for the creative and talented. Celebrities, such as Mick Jagger and Truman Capote, often frequented the Factory. Although this building was intended to be a positive creation by Andy, a regular visitor of the Factory shot Andy Warhol in 1968. After being asked to leave the Factory, Valerie Solanas, who was a militant feminist and an art critic, fired three bullets at the now famous artist, one landing in his stomach, injuring several of his organs. Fortunately, Warhol survived, but he never fully recovered from his injuries mentally or physically. The 1970s were quieter for Andy Warhol as he became more of a business man. He was looking for newer, richer people for his portraits such as the Shah of Iran, John Lennon and Liza Minnelli. His most famous 1970s portrait was of Mao Zedong which was created in 1973. He also published the book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, expressing many ideas such as "Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art." –Andy Warhol (" A n d y W a r h o l . " W i k i p e d i a . Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 3 Dec 2010. Web. 4 Dec 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Warhol#Childhoo d_.281928.E2.80.9348.29”) Warhol began to be criticized as a “business artist” or an artist only in the business for the money. Some reviewers disliked his portraits; however, some found his superficiality to be brilliant and refreshing. Andy’s work began to die down and so did his health. Warhol began to have gall bladder problems which negatively affected his work. Because of his severe hypochondria, he put off visiting the doctor, and before long he was in the hospital for gall bladder surgery. On February 22nd, 1987, Warhol died after his surgery due to post-operative cardiac arrhythmia. Over 2000 people attended his funeral and soon after, in 1994, his hometown opened the “Andy Warhol Museum” in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Warhol is still remembered today as one of the major artists and contributors of the 1950s and 60s pop art movement, and as an eccentric and talented artist and filmmaker. During the time when Andy Warhol was most popular and famous, the United States and Britain were experiencing what was called the “Pop Art Movement”. This movement emerged in the United States in the late 1950s and Warhol was a big part of this decade as he contributed copious amounts of art during this time. Pop art isn’t considered traditional art, and it is a genre of art that uses elements of popular culture, thus giving it the name “pop” art. It often uses techniques from commercial art and advertising, which is where Warhol started out in his art career. The concept of pop art also refers to the attitudes that led to the art, and not so much the actual art. Andy Warhol proves this to be true in some ways because by the end of his career, critics accused him of being a “business artist”. Warhol impacted American society and culture through the “pop art” movement. Although Warhol wasn’t the only artist that contributed to pop art, he was one of the most famous. Before the 1950s and 60s, life in America was more sophisticated and proper and life after the war was hard for Americans. Once the lives of Americans began to get back on track, life was getting easier and art was becoming more popular. Fine art and traditional art were slowly leaving the culture of America and pop art and art that was more colorful and fun was being introduced. Art was revolved more around products and celebrities and Andy Warhol showed this strongly through his work. Warhol was also helping celebrities and products by advertising them even more and basing his work on them. Warhol painted Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali, Elizabeth Taylor and Troy Donohue, along with products like Coca-Cola and Campbell’s Tomato Soup. Although many art critics did not appreciate Warhol’s work, as they considered it to be strictly for business, society felt the opposite. His work brought about the changes of our society at that time. Because Warhol’s pop paintings incorporated images of consumer products and movie stars, he clearly portrayed the changes brought about in our society through mass communications and mass productions. Material items were becoming more important to the every-day person, and Warhol was able to show this through his work. He reflected the newfound contemporary culture of the United States and was able to help create a new culture coming more under the American influence. Warhol also strongly understood the fascination that America had with celebrities. As a result, he was able to entertain society through his art work of movie stars and famous people. This gave people a newfound appreciation for art because pop art is so different from fine art. Before the “pop art” movement, art was all about the talent and hand of an artist. However, at this time Andy Warhol and other pop artists changed America’s view and opinion of art. By focusing on products and people that were important during this lifetime, it created more of an interest and appreciation for art. The art wasn’t all about the skill of the artist, because most of the time there were methods of art that didn’t necessarily involve a steady hand or the ability to paint, such as silk screening, which is the main method of art which helped Warhol become the famous artist he was in the late 1900s. Even though Andy Warhol wasn’t the only artist who helped create and make the pop culture movement possible, he is one of the artists that had the most memorable affect on society. He incorporated every-day life and fame into his artwork, and also altered appreciation for art and showed society that it wasn’t all about the skill, by introducing new methods. Warhol invented a new approach to America’s fascination with the celebrity, and thus became a celebrity himself. This is an accomplishment that has only been done by very few American artists and his artwork and talent in society is still referred to and remembered today. Andy Warhol will always be considered an artist, a celebrity and a person with a strong impact on society and art, who has changed America’s culture for the better.
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