Andrew Warhola (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987), more commonly known as Andy Warhol, was an American painter, printmaker, and filmmaker who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became famous worldwide for his work as a painter, avant-garde filmmaker, record producer, author, and public figure known for his membership in wildly diverse social circles that included bohemian street people, distinguished intellectuals, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy aristocrats.
As stated, although Andy Warhol is most known for his paintings and films, he has authored works in many different media.
- Drawing: Warhol started his career as a commercial illustrator, producing drawings in “blotted-ink” style for advertisements and magazine articles. Best known of these early works are his drawings of shoes. Some of his personal drawings were self-published in small booklets, such as Yum, Yum, Yum (about food), Ho, Ho, Ho (about Christmas) and (of course) Shoes, Shoes, Shoes. His most artistically acclaimed book of drawings is probably A Gold Book, compiled of sensitive drawings of young men. A Gold Book is so named because of the gold leaf that decorates its pages.
- Sculpture: Warhol’s most famous sculpture is probably his Brillo Boxes, silkscreened ink on wood replicas of Brillo soap pad boxes (designed by James Harvey), part of a series of “grocery carton” sculptures that also included Heinz ketchup and Campbell’s tomato juice cases. Other famous works include the Silver Clouds – helium filled, silver mylar, pillow-shaped balloons. A Silver Cloud was included in the traveling exhibition Air Art (1968-69) curated by Willoughby Sharp. Clouds was also adapted by Warhol for avant-garde choreographer Merce Cunningham’s dance piece RainForest (1968).
- Audio: At one point Warhol carried a portable recorder with him wherever he went, taping everything everybody said and did. He referred to this device as his “wife”. Some of these tapes were the basis for his literary work. Another audio-work of Warhol’s was his “Invisible Sculpture”, a presentation in which burglar alarms would go off when entering the room. Warhol’s cooperation with the musicians of The Velvet Underground was driven by an expressed desire to become a music producer.
- Time Capsules: In 1973, Warhol began saving ephemera from his daily life – correspondence, newspapers, souvenirs, childhood objects, even used plane tickets and food – which was sealed in plain cardboard boxes dubbed Time Capsules. By the time of his death, the collection grew to include 600, individually dated “capsules”. The boxes are now housed at the Andy Warhol Museum.
- Television: Andy Warhol dreamed of a television show that he wanted to call The Nothing Special, a special about his favorite subject: Nothing. Later in his career he did create two cable television shows, Andy Warhol’s TV in 1982 and Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes (based on his famous “fifteen minutes of fame” quotation) for MTV in 1986. Besides his own shows he regularly made guest appearances on other programs, including The Love Boat wherein a Midwestern wife (Marion Ross) fears Andy Warhol will reveal to her husband (Tom Bosley, who starred alongside Ross in sitcom Happy Days) her secret past as a Warhol superstar named Marina del Rey. Warhol also produced a TV commercial for Schrafft’s Restaurants in New York City, for an ice cream dessert appropriately titled the “Underground Sundae”
- Fashion: Warhol is quoted for having said: “I’d rather buy a dress and put it up on the wall, than put a painting, wouldn’t you?”One of his most well-known Superstars, Edie Sedgwick, aspired to be a fashion designer, and his good friend Halston was a famous one. Warhol’s work in fashion includes silkscreened dresses, a short sub-career as a catwalk-model and books on fashion as well as paintings with fashion (shoes) as a subject.
- Performance Art: Warhol and his friends staged theatrical multimedia happenings at parties and public venues, combining music, film, slide projections and even Gerard Malanga in an S&M outfit cracking a whip. The Exploding Plastic Inevitable in 1966 was the culmination of this area of his work.
- Theater: Andy Warhol’s PORK opened on May 5, 1971 at LaMama theater in New York for a two week run and was brought to the Roundhouse in London for a longer run in August, 1971. Pork was based on tape-recorded conversations between Brigin Berlin and Andy during which Brigid would play for Andy tapes she had made of phone conversations between herself and her mother, socialite Honey Berlin. The play featured Jayne County as “Vulva” and Cherry Vanilla as “Amanda Pork”.
- Photography: To produce his silkscreens, Warhol made photographs or had them made by his friends and assistants. These pictures were mostly taken with a specific model of Polaroid camera that Polaroid kept in production especially for Warhol. This photographic approach to painting and his snapshot method of taking pictures has had a great effect on artistic photography. Warhol was an accomplished photographer, and took an enormous amount of photographs of Factory visitors, friends.
- Computer: Warhol used Amiga computers to generate digital art, which he helped design and build with Amiga, Inc. He also displayed the difference between slow fill and fast fill on live TV with Debby Harry as a model.
Warhol had assistants in producing his paintings. This is also true of his film-making and commercial enterprises.
He founded the gossip magazine Interview, a stage for celebrities he “endorsed” and a business staffed by his friends. He collaborated with others on all of his books (some of which were written with Pat Hackett.) He adopted the young painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the band The Velvet Underground, presenting them to the public as his latest interest, and collaborating with them. One might even say that he produced people (as in the Warholian “Superstar” and the Warholian portrait). He endorsed products, appeared in commercials, and made frequent celebrity guest appearances on television shows and in films (he appeared in everything from Love Boat to Saturday Night Live and the Richard Pryor movie, Dynamite Chicken).
In this respect Warhol was a fan of “Art Business” and “Business Art” – he, in fact, wrote about his interest in thinking about art as business in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol from A to B and Back Again.
Two museums are dedicated to Andy Warhol. The Andy Warhol Museum, one of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, is located at 117 Sandusky Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is the largest American art museum dedicated to a single artist, holding more than 12,000 works by the artist.
The other museum is the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art, established in 1991 by Andy’s brother John Warhola, the Slovak Ministry of Culture, and the Warhol Foundation in New York. It is located in the small town of Medzilaborce, Slovakia. Andy’s parents and his two brothers were born 15 kilometres away in the village of Miková. The museum houses several originals donated mainly by the Andy Warhol Foundation in New York and also personal items donated by Warhol’s relatives.