The Life and Works of Andy Warhol: A Biography

Categories: Andy Warhol

A biography of the life and works of Andy Warhol.

Ever since I discovered Andy Warhol's artworks in Milwaukee, they have captivated me like no other. Among his creations, the Campbell's Soup Can painting stands out as a testament to his unique approach as an artist. His life was filled with fascinating experiences that shaped him into the person he became. As an artist myself, I am eager to learn about the background of his life because it may enhance my appreciation of his artistic style and shed light on the inspiration behind his creations.

Andrew Warhola, originally named, was born in Pennsylvania to Czech immigrants. Although uncertain of his exact birthdate (either August 6, 1928 or September 28, 1930), his father's early passing plunged him into a deep depression accompanied by a lack of self-confidence. Much of Andy's childhood remains hidden, but he often expressed feeling shy and depressed due to discomfort with his homosexuality. It is possible that the torment he endured for being different contributed to his troubled upbringing.

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Despite these challenges, Andy managed to attend college and graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1949 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in pictorial design. He moved to New York City alongside fellow student Philip Pearlstein who would later gain recognition as a notable realist painter. In 1960, Andy Warhol embraced art as his profession and began earnestly painting.Initially, Andy Warhol focused on creating commercial drawings of women's shoes. One of his early works was an enlarged version of the Dick Tracy comic strip displayed at Lord & Taylor's department store in 1961.

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Continuing down the path of pop art, he used images that closely resembled the originals through a photographic silkscreen technique he employed. This involved repeatedly applying the same image without altering the original. In 1963, Warhol ventured into filmmaking to express himself artistically, capturing the reality he saw around him populated by money-driven hustlers. He also began experimenting with underground film during this time. Later in the late 70s, he incorporated sex and nudity in his films to attract attention successfully. Throughout his life, Warhol socialized with celebrities and stayed updated on current affairs as he tried to understand others' perceptions of the world, although never fully succeeding. Unfortunately, Warhol died from heart failure on March 9, 1987 while still wearing his iconic blond wig. Andy's diaries are not written records but rather audio recordings of phone conversations with Pat Hackett from Monday to Friday between November 24, 1976 and February 17, 1987. Initially intended to document minor business expenses for an audit, these recordings provide insight into Warhol's life during that period.Viewing them as a form of diary, serving broader and narrower objectives, Andy saw the diaries as a means to explain his everyday experiences over more than a decade of his life. Despite any changes he may have undergone since the 60s, this perspective provides a balanced and authentic portrayal of Andy himself. Instead of focusing on significant events, Andy primarily mentions mundane occurrences like taking a cab ride in uptown New York. The first major influence on Warhol's life was his enrollment and completion of a bachelor's degree in pictorial design at Carnegie Institute of Technology, which served as a stepping stone for his artistic career. After graduating, he moved to New York City and lived with Philip Pearlstein, whom he had met during school. Utilizing his design-centered education, Warhol began his career by creating drawings for a women's shoe catalog. This humble experience allowed him to learn and grow. His early ventures into commercialism may have influenced his use of media-exploited images. Regardless of personal views, Warhol understood what appealed to society and went on to popularize simplified pop art, becoming synonymous with this art movement. Through advertising projects, he became accustomed to glorifying people, products, and style;One of Andy Warhol's famous works, the Campbell's Soup Can silkscreen, is often overlooked due to its widespread nature (Sagan 1). Warhol had a talent for promoting ordinary things through his design skills, similar to Norman Rockwell's hyper-realism, Marcel Duchamp's surrealism, and Jasper Johns' radicalism (Sagan 1). His involvement in the underground film scene had a significant impact on his life. From 1963 onwards, he referred to himself as "the recorder of society around him" and began creating movies featuring individuals from Max's Kansas City, a warehouse club (Moritz 590). Max's was a gathering place for celebrities from various artistic fields who collaborated with Warhol every night. In 1968, he survived being shot in the chest by a woman who appeared in one of his short films. Despite this incident, Warhol continued making intentionally dull films like "Eat," "Haircut," "Sleep," "Kiss," and "Empire." These films aimed to convey specific messages or points. Later in the 70s, Warhol explored themes of sex and nudity in his work, including films that dealt with sexual bondage. It is possible that he sought shock value through such content, similar to other artists working with similar intentions. Another significant influence on Warhol was his mother Julia Warhola. Initially sharing apartments with friends in New York City, Warhol eventually found his own place.However, Andy's mother unexpectedly moved in with him without knowing about his interest in same-sex marriage. She constantly searched for a suitable wife for him, but Andy refrained from discussing how she influenced him due to her well-intentioned care. They lived together on 89th Street and Lexington Avenue until 1971 when Andy sent his senile mother back to Pittsburgh, entrusting her care to his brothers John and Paul. Unfortunately, she suffered a stroke and passed away in a nursing home in 1972. Andy struggled to cope with his mother's death, pretending that she was doing well whenever asked about her. This caused emotional withdrawal and avoidance of human contact as he tried to distance himself from the pain. Despite being initially shy, Andy eventually became an outspoken artist but felt even more despondent towards the end of his life. Surprisingly, further research revealed that Andy had led a more diverse life than expected. He was involved with the renowned rock band The Velvet Underground and designed album covers featuring unique artwork like a banana with the words "peel me." It also came to light that Andy identified as both homosexual and "omnisexual," having no boundaries when it came to sexual partners - whether they were men, women or animals.In conclusion, my research on Andy Warhol has strengthened my admiration for him due to his exceptional kindness and gratitude towards others. Pat Hackett, Warhol's editor, noted that she had never encountered someone who expressed gratitude as frequently as he did. His candid diary entries made me feel like I was getting to know him personally. Exploring the lives of unique individuals helps broaden our perspective and acceptance of others. While critics may have differing opinions on Warhol's autobiography, those who understood his ideas still appreciated him. Plagens acknowledged that Warhol must have had a sense of history as he left behind his diaries to enlighten future generations. Despite some critics finding the diaries dull, they capture the true essence of Andy through their straightforward record of events and interactions with various individuals (Plagens 1732). According to Plagens (1732), these diaries primarily consist of records that could have been maintained by anyone present at the time.Plagens expressed regret for the lack of earlier entries in the 1960s, when it would have been more fascinating to learn about Andy's actions and companions. Instead, documentation didn't begin until 1976. Trebay (1732) critiqued Pat Hackett's editing work, pointing out the postmodern elements in the diaries. The text below has undergone casual proofreading and editing. The editor's failure to meet expectations was attributed to her desire to imitate Andy's daily account. Nonetheless, Trebay still described the book as an exceptional social commentary that includes captivating stories of loveless marriages, impartial observations of others' success, and numerous revelations. Personally, I found the book highly entertaining since it offered a nonchalant glimpse into the lives of celebrities. Despite its potential for better organization and condensation, it remained intriguing and kept me engaged.

Updated: Feb 16, 2024
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The Life and Works of Andy Warhol: A Biography. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

The Life and Works of Andy Warhol: A Biography essay
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