"If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface
of my paintings and films and me, there I am. There's nothing behind
it." -Andy Warhol
No other artist is as much identified with Pop Art as Andy Warhol. The media called him the Prince of Pop. Warhol coined the phrase "15 minutes of fame", which refers to the fleeting condition of celebrity that attaches to an object of media attention, then passes to some new object as soon as the public's attention span is exhausted. Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1928. Warhol made his way from a Pittsburgh working class family to an American legend.
Andy Warhol showed an early talent in drawing and painting. After high school he studied commercial art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh. Andy Warhol graduated in 1949 and went to New York where he worked as an illustrator for magazines like Vogue and Harper's Bazaar and for commercial advertising. Andy Warhol soon became one of New York's most sought after and successful commercial illustrators.
Throughout the 1950s, Warhol enjoyed a successful career as a commercial artist, winning several commendations from the Art Director's Club and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. In these early years, he shortened his name to "Warhol." In 1952, artist Andy Warhol had his first individual show at the Hugo Gallery, exhibiting Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote. His work was exhibited in several other venues during the 1950s, including his first group show at The Museum of Modern Art in 1956.
In the sixties Warhol started painting daily objects of mass production like Campbell Soup cans and Coke bottles. Soon Andy Warhol became a famous figure in the New York art scene.
From 1962 on Andy Warhol started making silkscreen prints of famous personalities like Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor. The quintessence of Andy Warhol art was to remove the difference between fine arts and the commercial arts used for magazine illustrations, comic books, record albums or advertising campaigns. Andy Warhol once expressed his philosophy in one poignant sentence: "When you think about it, department stores are kind of like museums".
Pop artist Andy Warhol not only depicted mass products but he also wanted to mass produce his own works of pop art. Consequently Andy Warhol founded The Factory in 1962. It was an art studio where he employed in a rather chaotic way "art workers" to mass produce mainly prints and posters but also other items like shoes designed by the artist.
The first location of the Factory was in 231 E. 47th Street, 5th Floor (between 1st & 2nd Ave). By minimizing the role of his own hand in the production of his work and declaring that he wanted to be "a machine," Andy Warhol sparked a revolution in art. His work quickly became popular as well as controversial.
Andy Warhol's favorite printmaking technique was silkscreen. It came closest to his idea of proliferation of art. Apart from being an Art Producing Machine, the Factory served as a filmmaking studio. Warhol made over 300 experimental underground films, most rather bizarre and some rather pornographic. His first one was called "Sleep" and showed nothing else but a man sleeping over six hours.
According to Andy Warhol, "Art is what you can get away with". "Warhol took art and he made art available to the everyday man and everybody understood it,” tells Ted Ryan, the exhibit’s curator for Coca-Cola.
“Everybody owns a piece of Coke, or a piece of Marilyn, at least in the imagination.” "What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it."– The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: (From A to B and Back Again), 1975"
Andy Warhol also stated "Don't pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches."