"If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me - and there I am. There's nothing behind it"
Andrew Warhola was born in Pittsburgh on August 6, 1928. He was the youngest of the three sons of Czech immigrants, Andrej and Julia Warholas.
Most of his formative years were spent in in McKeesport, and Andy was spotted early as demonstrating a prodigious talent for design and drawing. Despite his father' death when he was 14, and having three nervous breakdowns he managed to gather enough money to attend the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now known as Carnegie Mellon University).
Andy graduated with a Bachelors degree in Pictorial Design, and moved to New York with the soon-to-be-famous realist painter Phillip Pearlstein. Andy simplified his surname to Warhol, and went on the lookout for work, landing illustration work for Glamour, which led to him being appointed to the art department of the I.Miller shoe store. All the time through this job he was still working freelance producing record covers and book illustrations. The amount of work he was creating made him one of the highest paid commercial artists in the USA, and by 1953, necessitated that he acquire an agent, which he did when he employed Fritzie Miller.
His work was becoming more and more popular, and in 1956 and 1957 he won the Art Directors Club award for distinctive merit, and in 1957 the Art Directors Club Medal, for his I. Miller adverts. It was around this time that he realised he had gone as far as he could in the commercial art world, and he began to look to fine art as a career.
His early work was seen as a challenge to the abstract expressionism of artists such as Willem De Kooning and Jackson Pollock, as it consisted of cleanly executed and emotionless drawings and prints of household objects. The watershed year for Warhol in his new career, and also for his new style dubbed Pop Art, was 1962, when the now instantly recognisable Campbells Soup Cans were first exhibited in Los Angeles, at the Ferus Gallery, along with his print portraits of Ginger Rogers, Marlon Brando, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.
In 1964, Warhol moved into his new apartments on 231 East 47th Street, that became known as 'The Factory', partially because of the mass-production techniques that Warhol was employing, as he rarely lifted a brush. This new studio became a magnet for hangers on, who provided inspiration for Warhols work, which was becoming more and more experimental. His work in film which had started with the deliberately tedious 'Eat', 'Haircut' and 'Sleep', culminated in his first film featuring sound, 'Harlot' which featured transvestites playing Mae West and Marilyn Monroe. In 1967 he branched into music when he produced the The Velvet Underground's first single.
Andy had a close brush with death on June 5, 1968, when he was shot by Valerie Solanis, the man-hating founder and sole member of SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men),
forcing him to recuperate for a year. This event caused him to rethink his work, in an effort to cultivate his image as a recorder of the society around him, lead to him creating 'Inter/View' magazine, which sported the famous line claiming eveyone would have 15 minutes of fame. He started attending parties every night and was often seen at Studio 54 with celebrities suchas Mick Jagger, Jack Nicholson, and Cher scouting out new talent for the magazine.
He continued his artwork throughout the 70's and 80's producing series of pieces around themes such as Endangered Species, Skulls, Torsoes and Oxidisation. Andy Warhol died in February 1987 following routine surgery.