Saturday, December 10, 2011

Museum Studies- Art History -Andrew Warhola (Andy Warhol) Biography

Andrew Warhola is among the most famous people on the earth. During my research I discovered that his fan and general public more frequently identified him as Andy Warhol. I could not believe my eyes when I searched his name in the internet, so many sites popped-up about him, all filled with his fun comments and gratitude on his contribution to the American culture, art-work/fact, civil-rights movements, social-justice, and personal identity as openly gay. According to The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc, Andy Warhol was born August 6, 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He died on February 22, 1987 at age 58, in New York City, New York.  The record from his foundation indicates that he was admitted at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1945. The institute is now known as Carnegie Mellon University. His Big Electric Chair, Campbell-noodle soup, coca-cola can and articulation of using celebrities as idles in his art-work has made me and minds of many to admit that he is among the leading figure in the visual art movement in American History; and not only in the pop art. (,)

However, after he became a commercial illustrator, a career that he initially excelled, Andy became famous worldwide known as a pop-artist. He worked as a painter, avant-garde filmmaker, record producer, author, and public figure; although he was also highly involved in the era of 1960s and 1970s civil-rights movement. He worked with wildly diverse social circles; for example he had membership with bohemian street people, distinguished intellectuals, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy aristocrats. In many ways he has been the subject matter of plentiful exposition, exhibitions, books, and feature and documentary film and public icon. According to Hughes “Andy was generally regarded as quiet, shy, and a meticulous observer”. As his Art critic Robert Hughes further by calling him "the white mole of Union Square.”  (Hughes, R. 2006)

In spite his Hollywood fantasy, government critic during civil rights movements and as well established public figure, I learned that Andy was a man of faith. According to James Romaine, Andye practiced his faith at Byzantine Rite Ruthenium Catholic Church; James Romaine further that “he regularly volunteered at homeless shelters in New York, particularly during the busier times of the year, and described himself as a religious person”. I was surprised and impressed to learn that in his life, Andy attended Mass regularly just as regular church members in-spite of his life style as openly gay man. (

Reading of Andy’s biography that is published on his foundation/organization  I discovered that his was the third born in his family. As most of Americans, Andy’s family immigrated to the US from Slovakia, and he was from the working class. He was of Rusyn’s descendants that are in the northeastern Slovakia (Bockris, Victor 1989).

Data about Andy’s childhood indicate that he had two older brothers, John and Paul. His brothers were born in Slovakia, then Czechoslovakia. According to Guiles, F. L. (1989) in third grade, Andy had St. Vitus' dance, a nervous system disease that causes involuntary movements of the extremities, which is believed to be a complication of scarlet fever and causes skin pigmentation blotchiness. Also often bed-ridden as a child, he became an outcast among his school-mates and bonded strongly with his mother. In his child hood he spent most of his time in bed. He drew, listened to the radio and collected pictures of movie stars around his bed. Later on his adult life he described this period as very important in the development of his personality, skill set and preferences. (Guiles, F. L. 1989)

Andy’s early career he developed early artistic talent and studied commercial art at the School of Fine Arts at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh (now Carnegie Mellon University). In 1949, he moved to New York City and began a successful career in magazine illustration and advertising. During the 1950s, he gained fame for his whimsical ink drawings of shoe advertisements. These were done in a loose, blotted ink style, and figured in some of his earliest showings in New York at the Bodley Gallery. With the concurrent rapid expansion of the record industry and the introduction of the vinyl record, Hi-Fi, and stereophonic recordings, RCA Records hired Warhol, along with another freelance artist, Sid Maurer, to design album covers and promotional materials. (Oldham, A., Spence, S., & Ohlman, C. 2002)

However, throughout his career, Andy produced erotic photography and drawings as expression of sexuality. His most famous works draw from gay underground culture and openly explore the complexity of sexuality and desire. Some stories about Andy development as an artist revolved around the impediment of his sexuality primarily presented as he tried to launch his career. The first works that he submitted to a gallery in the pursuit of a career as an artist were homoerotic drawings of male nudes. They were rejected for being too openly gay. (

On July 9, 1962 Andy managed to organize his first one man gallery exhibition, in the Ferus Gallery of Los Angeles, California. This exhibition marked the West Coast debut of pop art. Also Andy’s first New York solo Pop exhibit was hosted at Eleanor Ward's Stable Gallery November 6-24, 1962. (Lippard, L. R. 1982)In the 1960s that Warhol began to make paintings of iconic American products such as Campbell's Soup Cans from the Campbell Soup Company and Coca-Cola bottles, as well as paintings of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Troy Donahue, and Elizabeth Taylor. He produced prints using the silkscreen method. His work became popular and controversial because 1960 it was the edge of civil right movements. His imagery were dollar bills, celebrities (images of Jacqueline Kennedy mourning the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963), brand name products (coca cola Bottle or Campbell's Chiken Soup can) and newspaper headlines (Mushroom Clouds, Big Electric Chairs, and Police Dogs Attacking Civil Rights Protesters). (

1960s Andy’s work had success and scandal; in the 1970s it proves a much quieter decade, because Andy became more entrepreneurial and or commercial. According to Bob Colacello, Andy devoted much of his time to rounding up new, rich patrons for portrait commissions such as Brigitte Bardot, Queen Beatrix, Liza Minnelli, Muhammad Ali, John Lennon, Diana Ross, Mick Jagger, and Michael Jackson. For example, the Andy's famous portrait of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong in 1973. ( Andy used to socialize at various nightspots in New York City, including Max's Kansas City, Serendipity 3 and later in the '70s Studio 54. (

1980’s Andy’s financial success  partially was due to his affiliation and friendships with a number of prolific younger artists, who were dominating the "bull market" of '80s New York art Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Salle and other so-called Neo-Expressionists, as well as members of the Transavantgarde movement in Europe, including Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi. By this period, Andy was being criticized for becoming merely a business artist. His 1970’s art-work echoed criticism on his 1980 exhibit of ten portraits at the Jewish Museum in New York. Andy showed no interest in Judaism. (
Andy died in New York City at 6:32 a.m. on February 22, 1987; according to news reports, he had a routine gallbladder surgery at New York Hospital before dying in his sleep from a sudden post-operative cardiac arrhythmia. Prior to his diagnosis and operation, Warhol delayed having his recurring gallbladder problems checked, as he was afraid to enter hospitals and see doctors. Warhol's body was taken back to Pittsburgh by his brothers for burial. (

This class was worth taking it. His art expressing capital punishment it was well articulated. Although, certainly I don’t agree with Andy Warhol and most of his ideology, he has indeed put landmark in the Art history by articulating and explaining the strength of American diversification with its rich culture. 

By Desdery J. Masao: Spring of 2009

1.                              Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
7.                  Hughes, R. (2006). Things I didn't know: A memoir. New York: Knopf.
8.                  Bockris, V. (1989). The life and death of Andy Warhol. New York: Bantam Books.
9.                  Guiles, F. L. (1989). Loner at the ball: The life of Andy Warhol. London: Bantam.
10.              Oldham, A., Spence, S., & Ohlman, C. (2002). 2Stoned. London: Secker & Warburg.
11.              Lippard, L. R. (1982). Pop art. World of art. London: Thames and Hudson.

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