Andy Worhol was born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to immigrant parents. He became very ill as a child and his mother, an accomplished artist, took this time whilst he was ill in bed to teach him drawing. It was about this time he also gained interest in collecting magazines, watching and producing film and actors.
Whilst studying art at the Carnegie Institute part time, Andy’s father died and left him with enough money to continue his art education. After graduating high school in 1945, he enrolled at the Carnegie Institute for Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) to study pictorial design. On graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts he went into the workforce as a commercial artist. During the late 1950s he started pursuing his interest in painting, later introducing his mass produced screen prints.
As he had an interest in celebrity and film, around 1962 Andy started what he would later be himself iconically recognisable for, his multiple brightly coloured prints of both well known actors and brands. The screen printing technique available at the time was perfect for a merge between fine and commercial art styles and a lucrative career was established producing sought after portraits. After the initial design was finished, prints could also be run off by anyone he chose to employ to help him.
Taking the artist away from their “touch” of the art left the subject alone to speak for themselves. In a way all his subjects were being reduced to commercial icons done in the “pop art” colours of the 1960s and 1970s.
By including himself into these prints Andy was aiming at raising himself into the realms of cultural icon along with all his other subjects. He developed a very successful career by using the mood and cultural direction of his times and I think along with his most famous subjects left us with a readily identifiable image of himself for many years.
After the video we were asked: “How did Andy Warhol represent his era?” We came up with the following list (abridged)
- Repeated imagery
- Types of images used (politicians, actors, readily identifiable consumer items)
- Mediums used (screen print, paint added to prints)
- Colours used popular at the time
- Focus on image rather than the traditional method of portraiture
- Scale of his works (very large in a lot of cases)