Andy Warhol

Date/place of birth

August 6, 1928, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

Day/place of death

February 22, 1987, New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, United States

Andy Warhol - Grace Kelly
Andy Warhol - Grace Kelly

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Andy Warhol biography

Rarely has an artist been so equated with an art direction as Andy Warhol and Pop Art. Even those without any access to art recognize immediately the iconic images of the American painter, graphic artist and film maker.

Andy Warhol – Through illness to art

Any Warhol was born Andrew Warhola on 6 August 1928 in Pittsburgh to East European immigrants. The artist tended to cover up his birth date in later years, sometimes reducing his age by a number of years, which puzzled some biographers. At the age of eight he became ill with the neurological disorder Chorea minor (also known as St. Vitus’ Dance) and was forced to spend a lot of time at home. One result of his confinement to his bed was not only the close relationship he developed with his mother Julia, but also the time he spent studying comics and films. He cut out single figures and drew his own scenes. This awakened art interest led him to the Carnegie Mellon University in 1945 where he studied painting and design until his graduation in 1949. That year he moved with his artist friend Philip Pearlstein to New York where he initially worked in a shoe factory. It was in New York that he attracted the interest of the famous patron and gallerist Alexander Iolas who would help him to his first solo exhibition in 1952.

From commercial design to screen print, pop culture as inspiration

Andrew Warhola first changed his name to Andy Warhol in New York and so signed a quantity of drawings which were reproduced in the magazine “Mademoiselle” in 1950. Whilst he held his head above water with a number of casual jobs, he produced many graphic articles together with the designer Suzie Frankfurt for magazines, greetings cards, commercial articles and even cookbooks. Often Warhol would draw the motif and his friends and acquaintances would colour them in at so-called “Colouring Parties” As an industrial and commercial graphic artist, he rapidly achieved immense success and by the end of the 1950s was already one of the best paid figures in his field. Despite this, he wished also to make his own way as a creative artist and chose for this an innovative and bold concept: he took his subjects from the trivia of popular culture, painting Hollywood stars and famous comic figures such as Micky Mouse or Superman. However, because colleagues such as Robert Rauschenberg or Roy Lichtenstein were producing similar works, Warhol turned completely to the screen print that became his trademark. At the beginning, hardly anyone had any time for his style, with only five buyers at his first presentation, one of whom was Dennis Hopper.

Marilyn Monroe, the factory and an assassination

The picture “Marilyn Diptych” became world famous, for which Andy Warhol used a scene photograph from the film “Niagara” with Marilyn Monroe as model. The artist reproduced the image in various colour variations, and the motif stands still today in an iconic status as a symbol of Pop Art and its most famous representative. In 1962 Andy Warhol raised his “Colouring Parties” to a new level by creating the “Factory”, an “art factory” consisting of several studios where he could give free reign to his love of experimentation, where the most famous artists of the time met, and where his collaborators produced series of Warhol screen prints. Warhol also fulfilled his second passion here: filming. In 1968 he barely escaped an assignation attempt when Valerie Solanas, a delusional women’s rights activist, fired three shots at the artist on the street. Following his convalescence, the artist withdrew more and more and avoided public life, leading to the point when he sent a doppelganger to US colleges for a series of lectures. This was quickly uncovered however and caused further scandal.

Andy Warhol died on 22 February 1987 in New York.

Years after his death, Andy Warhol’s works continue to reach dizzyingly high prices. But it is not always honest buyers who are interested in the art: in Los Angeles, a thief managed to steal Warhol’s original screen prints and replace them with colour copies, without the owners noticing the trick.

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

Andy Warhol Prices

Andy WarholGrace Kelly€275.000
Andy WarholOhne Titel (Ms. B and Yucca)€270.000
Andy WarholSuperman€186.000
Andy WarholMadonna painting€140.300
Andy WarholMarilyn Monroe (Marilyn)€132.000
Andy WarholMick Jagger€126.000

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