Andy Warhol - Women with flowers

Widely considered as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, Andy Warhol is celebrated for his signature depictions surrounding daily objects of mass production. Identified as the first artist to convey the influence of mass media culture on the American life, Warhol created his most prolific works in the 1960s, when the US was quickly becoming a culture built upon television and mass consumerism. Consequently surrounded by a fascination with impactful and lasting images, audiences soon began to reject typical print media to embrace Warhol’s representation of media and commercialism. Throughout his successful career and numerous iconic collaborations, Andy Warhol continued to firmly establish his patented impact of imagery on the development of our environment and identity. His beloved Campbell’s Soup cans and Coke bottles, as well as his silkscreen prints of famous personalities such as Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley are still widely celebrated today. Simply, Warhol is regarded as the King of Pop Art.  His influence went beyond painting and printmaking.

Andy Warhol founded The Factory in 1962, as a result of his interest in the mass production of his own works. In addition to serving as an industrial setting for his employees to extensively produce the artists’ prints and posters, The Factory also functioned as a performance venue for the Velvet Underground, and a filmmaking studio for his experimental films.

Born “Andy Warhola” in 1928 to Slovak immigrants, Warhol displayed an early talent for drawing and painting. Following high school, he enrolled in Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Institute of Technology, where he studied commercial art. After graduating in 1949, Warhol moved to New York to work as an illustrator for various magazines, such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. He soon became one of New York’s most sought after and successful illustrators, and in 1952, he held his first one-man exhibition at New York’s Hugo Gallery.  Warhol quickly became one of the most celebrated commercial artists in New York.  His works were featured in every important magazine from Vogue to Harper’s Bazaar. The 1950’s also marked his most prolific period for his illustrating and publishing books – during this period he would go on to publish eight books.

In July of 1968, Warhol narrowly survived an attempt on his life by Valerie Solanis. Solanis, who had worked at The Factory occasionally, shot Warhol multiple times in the chest, proclaiming upon her arrest that he “had too much control over my life.” Throughout the 1970s, Warhol continued to produce art, as well as to expand his entrepreneurial interests through such ventures as founding Interview magazine as well as the opening of a successful nightclub. Andy Warhol died tragically in February 1987 from complications following a gall bladder operation.

Reference: Schleif, Nina. “Clever Frivolity In Excelsis, Warhol's Promotional Books.” Reading Andy Warhol, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2013, pp. 78–133.