Andy Warhol, an American pop artist, was one of the inventive, influential, and most significant figures of his time. He worked to explore the connection between artistic expression and celebrity culture.
Andy Warhol is the most notable and recognized artist of the 20th century, alongside Picasso.
He played a prominent and crucial part in the rise of Pop Art, which makes him an influential artist not of his generation but of the future ones too. Andy Warhol is a substantial source of inspiration for all: fashion designers, musicians, painters, and photographers.
A Brief History of Andy Warhol’s Life
Andrew Warhol was born on 6th August 1928 in Pennsylvania. He began his studies in 1945 at Carnegie Institute of Technology and moved to New York in 1949. Fifteen Drawing Based on the writings of Truman Capote was the title of the first exhibition of Andy Warhol, which took place in 1952 in New York. Moreover, after ten years, he created The Factory (Warhol studio) and got his first solo Pop Exhibition.
This first solo Pop Exhibition of Andy was of 32 different canvases of Campbell’s soup cans. And the same year, he created his first silkscreen (1962). Furthermore, in 1968, Andy came across an accident. A disgruntled actress shot him. Although Andy survived it, it permanently weakened him. He died at the age of 58 due to heart failure following a gall bladder surgery on 21st February 1987.
The Pop Art Movement
The popular movement, Pop Art, began in the 1950s in Britain. This Pop Art movement was a product of the influence of advertising, consumer products, media, and comics. Several American artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns joined the Pop Art movement.
Andy Warhol is also one of these great artists who followed and made their movements to this art. And if we talk about the significant figures in Pop Art who were responsible for the rise of this art, Andy Warhol’s name will top the list. He took the post 50s obsession with a satirical hint of its shallowness, consumer and Hollywood products, and commercialism.
Furthermore, Andy Warhol picked the people and objects from America’s popular culture and turned them into Pop Art masterpieces. He joined the pop art movement in the 60s and started with paintings of comic strips and coke bottles. However, the Campbell’s soup cans are what brought fame to the name of Andy Warhol.
Andy wanted to produce paintings faster which made him shift to silk screens. Silk-screening is a process that can reproduce the formed stencil/patterns over and over again. Moreover, some of the most recognized works of Andy Warhol include the silk-screened portraits of Chairman Mao of China and Marilyn Monroe.
The secret behind the artistic approach of Andy Warhol towards objects and people was his understanding of the rise of media, celebrity culture, and fame. He changed the art world forever with his colorful, straightforward, and edgy interpretations of Hollywood stars and ordinary objects. Such examples are Marilyn Diptych, Campbell’s soup can, and Brillo box.
The Politics of Pop Art
The young artists of the 1950s and 1960s were not satisfied with the art schools of that time. They felt that all the movements and styles these art schools are teaching do not reflect what is happening in their lives and repeat the old traditional techniques which had already come and gone. And this led to the emergence of Pop Art.
Andy Warhol came on the scene with his appropriation of noticeable images: personalities (such as Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, and Marilyn Monroe) and mass products (Campbell’s Soup). The obsession of Warhol with the appreciative nature of the counterculture movement, the rise of consumerism, and celebrity status helped him to reflect through his art.
It would not be wrong to call Pop Art a prototypical representation of mid-20th century America. It is because Pop Art includes the fetishism of not only people but also the products. Due to the iconography of the 1960s, the 70s earned Andy Warhol the status of a symbol of that era.
We have seen that introverted artists are the creators of influential art. It is the nature of an introvert to observe, not partake and bring the innovation which others cannot see. Warhol was a distinctive man, a true artist, both in appearance and character. But the mysticisms that he carried made him unpredictable; you cannot guess what you are going to get.
The brilliance of Andy Warhol lies in his way of capturing the mundane. He gave the society which it was looking for: increased stimulation and unique art.
Pop Art was prognostic in presenting celebrity culture and the fusion with politics. However, in actual it was the forethought of Warhol and his Pop Art artists which made the lives of politicians a public interest with the conflation of the two.
The Commercialization of Art of Andy Warhol
The world has a substantial number of remarkable Pop artists, but Andy Warhol is the most iconic one among them all without any doubt. Like Claes Oldenburg, who turned toilets into cushions, and Roy Liechtenstein, who turned the comic book into high art, Andy Warhol took over with his screenprints. He is still the king of Pop for all the right reasons.
Andy Warhol, being the inventive artist, changed the culture completely. Unlike the traditional way of making art as an advertisement, Andy started doing the opposite of it. He made advertisements as art. Andy Warhol was wise with his choice of subject matters too.
Moreover, he chose the ones that would traction with Pop Art, which was an emerging field. Warhol also made the well-received paintings of S&H green stamps. Andy wanted to produce his artworks in a large number, so he came up with silk screening.
Andy also had a place for the mass production of his artwork. Instead of calling it a studio, Warhol used the term, The Factory (he wanted to name it something unique, something not used by most artists). Andy Warhol rolled out product after product with the help of his assistants and showcased them in warehouse-like arrangements.
Andy Warhol was a versatile artist, and he had a high interest in the products of the human variety. So, he moved towards making the paintings of celebrities, reproducing pictures from magazines, newspapers, and publicity stills. Andy did not stop here, and the recurrent subjects of his work include products, celebrities, disasters, shoes, money, death, wealthy people, and even himself.
In addition, Warhol did commission work too. And he made thousands of such portraits based on the pictures taken in photo booths, which became the prime source of Warhol’s income by the 1970s.
Along with this service, he made many self-images in his career as a pop artist. Andy Warhol also offered himself up for endorsements since he was keen on trading his images.
Moreover, this was a brilliant move of Warhol in a marketing sense, which turned him into a well-known brand. Besides, he did not believe in making business and art mutually exclusive.
Andy Warhol impacted Pop Art in a way that helped it to emerge and rise. He was innovative and influential and gave the world great pieces of art for future generations to get inspired from. Andy was, is, and will always be a king of pop art as he played a considerable and prominent role in its movement.