When you think of pop art, the name ‘Andy Warhol’ is one of the first names to come to mind. He is well-known for creating paintings of celebrities such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe as well as popular advertisements from the 1950s and 1970s, the most famous of which is the painting of Campbell’s soup cans.
But who, REALLY, is Andy Warhol?
The Story Behind The Man
According to the Tate Gallery, Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola to Slovakian parents in 1928 in Pennsylvania. Very shortly after Andy’s birth, they moved to New York and Warhol began his career illustrating adverts for fashion magazines.
Andy was a great believer in the fact that art should be for everyone and not just a select few. After having displayed his work in several influential galleries, he started to become recognised as an artist of gravitas with his works displaying the relationship between artistic expression, advertising as well as celebrity culture. He favoured a variety of media such as silk-screening, photography and sculpture.
In addition to being a celebrated artist who enjoyed finding time for nice things, Warhol was also a film director as well as a producer. Some of the films that he made were:
- Sleep (1963)
- Taylor and John (1963)
- John Washing (1963)
These films starred John Giorno, who was one of the people that Warhol had a relationship with. (Warhol was an openly gay man.)
Warhol’s Famous Paintings
Campbell’s Soup Cans
Hanging in the Museum of Modern Art, Andy Warhol painted a series depicting each flavour of Campbell’s Soup cans. When asked why he painted this, he responded that he had this soup for lunch for over 20 years.
According to the Museum of Modern Art, Warhol painted this series in a very deliberate way. He first drew the image of the can, on a canvas, with a pencil. He then painted the can and the label using a light projector to superimpose the label’s lettering directly onto the canvas. The images stress the uniformity of Campell’s cans.
In the 1960s, Warhol painted the portrait of a number of celebrities. One of his subjects was Elvis Presley in ‘Double Elvis’. This piece was created with silkscreen ink on synthetic policy paint on canvas.
In this piece, Warhol overlapped two images of Elvis pointing a gun towards the viewer of the image. The background is silver to convey glamour.
Another celebrity to catch Warhol’s creative genius was Marilyn Monroe. Shortly after she died in the early 1960s, he began his work entitled Marilyn Diptych. This is a silkscreened piece which consists of 50 images of her which were sourced from the 1953 film Niagra.
Andy Warhol’s pieces make you think but not in a way that other art does because as the images are reminiscent of a photograph or an advertisement, it’s easier to dismiss these. However, if you look a bit deeper, and understand the man behind the works of art – be they paintings or film – a whole new world will be opened up to you.