Andy Warhol ( Andrew Warhola) was a bit of an enigma and few people knew the real person behind the myth and his skillfully crafted media image. He grew up in the coal mining town of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His parents were working-class emigrants from Slovakia. As a child, he was smart and creative. His mother, a casual artist herself, encouraged his artistic urges by giving him his first camera at nine years old. He was often sick as a child and was known to suffer from a nervous disorder resulting from Scarlet fever that would frequently keep him at home and out of school for long periods. He spent his time listening to the radio, drawing, and collecting pictures of movie stars around his bed. It was this exposure to current events at a young age that he later said shaped his obsession with pop culture and celebrities. He later attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he studied commercial art after which, he moved to New York City and began a career in magazine fashion illustration and advertising.
Andy Warhol was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, creating some of the most recognizable images ever produced. A founding member of the Pop art movement, his work was across several media including painting, printmaking, photography, drawing, and sculpture. He was also a very prolific groundbreaking filmmaker. Challenging former concepts of modern art and veering away from abstraction, he embraced popular culture and commercial processes to produce work that appealed to the masses. During the 1960s he began to make paintings of iconic American objects such as his famous Soup Cans, and celebrity iconic images. Anything noteworthy was fair game, as well as newspaper headlines or photographs of protesters during the Birmingham campaign in the Civil Rights Movement. His fame and reputation well established by the 70’s, he concentrated on portrait commissions for rich patrons seeking his celebrity stamp and their “15 minutes of fame”, as he famously called it. He had the perspective of someone from the outside looking in. The shy and introverted observer of the famous knew how to play the “fame game” and became just as famous as his celebrity idols.
Although he was thought to have lived a wild lifestyle, he was quite conservative in his personal life and financial life often described as miserly. In his will he donated most of his work to the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts which he founded .Support grants are made annually for scholarly exhibitions at museums; curatorial research; visual arts programming at artist-centered organizations; artist residencies and commissions; and efforts to promote the health, welfare and first amendment rights of artists.
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