“The idea is not to live forever, it is to create something that will.”
Andy Warhol (b. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1928 – Manhattan, New York, 1987) is known for his position as a leading figure of Pop Art and a celebrity in his own right. The son of Slovakian immigrants, he graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1949 and moved to New York, initially working as a commercial illustrator. Warhol began painting in the late 1950s and rose to prominence upon his exhibitions of paintings of Campbell’s soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles in a deliberately flat, impersonal manner. In 1963, he intensified this objective style further through the use of silkscreen printing, effectively removing the trace of the artist’s hand. He continued to depict consumer items as well as celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy in a repetitive, serial manner. Warhol also depicted darker aspects of American culture such as car crashes and race riots. His studio, known as The Factory, became a centerpiece of New York bohemian life, attracting actors, models, and other artists. With the help of assistants, he created imitations of Brillo and Heinz boxes at this time. In the late 1960s, he shifted his focus to filmmaking and photography. Warhol’s films were characterized by the lack of a plot, eroticism, and excessive length. Warhol began to cultivate his own cult of celebrity at this time. In 1968, Valerie Solanas shot him and he barely recovered; this event had a lasting impact on his art. In the 1970s, Warhol shifted his focus to commissions for portraits, while in the 1980s, he collaborated with artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. In 1987, the artist died as a result of complications from a routine gall bladder surgery. His will stated that his estate be used for “the advancement of the visual arts,” and the Andy Warhol Foundation was established in 1987.