Great Pop Art Artist - Andy Warhol

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Andy Warhol is arguably America’s most well-known artist of the twentieth century. One can measure this easily through the number of words spent discussing his work, publications on Amazon, Google hits, and how easily he and his artwork can be recognized. I chose to research and write about Warhol because I find his pop art works very unique and interesting. The bright and bold colors that he uses also really catches the eye and draws the attention of the viewer. Warhol’s life led to the creation of a lot of unique art that is still celebrated to this day.

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Andrew Warhola, popularly known as Andy Warhol, was one of the top influential artists in the late 20th century and a practitioner of the pop art movement. He was born as the youngest of three siblings on August 6, 1928, and was raised in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Warhol’s parents were Julia and Andrej Warhola, who immigrated from Czechoslovakia to the United States after the deaths of their parents. Around the age of six years old, Andy was diagnosed with Sydenham’s chorea, a disorder causing rapid jerking movements affecting the face, hands, and feet, a disease that left him bedridden for several months. However, he was fascinated with his mother’s artistic skills, who taught him how to trace, draw, and print images. Warhol also enjoyed listening to the radio and collecting pictures of celebrities. At fourteen, Andy’s father passed away due to tuberculosis peritonitis. Devastated, he didn’t attend his father’s funeral, but, throughout his life, his father saw special talents in Andy’s artistic abilities, dedicating his life savings to provide Andy with the education he needed to pursue his art career. Andy Warhol then attended Carnegie Mellon University and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1945. He began his career in New York City shortly after his college graduation. Once Warhol’s career began, his work became known worldwide. His artwork was exhibited in several different places around New York City. Suddenly, Warhol’s life drastically changed in 1968 when he was shot by Valerie Solanas, a women’s rights activist. After being shot in the lung, Warhol was pronounced clinically dead when he arrived at the hospital. His operation lasted five and a half hours, but, in the end, Andy Warhol was revived. This incident was known as Andy’s “first death,” before his official death in 1987. Warhol eventually passed away at 58 years old, from post gallbladder surgery in New York.

Warhol’s artwork started to become big in the pop culture age. His work was a huge contribution to the 1950s movement of pop art. In 1962, the technique known as silkscreen photographic printing was the start of Warhol’s soon-to-be most definitive style. An example of one of Andy Warhol’s most famous silkscreen printing contributions was the Campbell’s Soup Cans. Warhol painted 32 cans of soup with every different flavor, displaying them together, like products in a grocery isle. He mimicked the uniformity and recurrence of the image across every canvas and only changed the flavor label on the front of each can. When it comes to Campbell’s soup, Warhol states, “I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for 20 years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.” Andy Warhol’s relationship with Coca-Cola started when he began to use the well-known Coca-Cola bottles in his pop art in 1962. His use of the Coke bottle was underway when he was establishing himself as an artist. One of his first Coca-Cola encouraged works was known as Green Coca-Cola Bottles, which included 112 green glass Coke bottles lined up in seven rows of 16, with the logo placed at the bottom of the painting. This repetitive imagery brings forth the look of mechanical reproduction. Throughout his career, Warhol created more than 15 pieces of artwork relating to Coca-Cola.

Throughout his style of work, Andy warhol references to a society where people can be seen as products rather than people. A popular work done by Warhol was his portrait of Marilyn Diptych. Also using the silkscreen printing technique, Warhol flattens the already two-dimensional picture even more. Through the use of bright colors and reducing shade, he enhances an emotional flatness and precisely shows the superficial side of Diptych. By concentrating on her most recognizable feature, Warhol reminds us that there is an actual woman underneath. Coincidentally, Andy Warhol chose to depict Marilyn Diptych in one of his earliest and most famous works of pop art. She took her life that same month, and her memorable fame and gorgeous face seemed like a great option for his repetitive print.

A principal of design that is illustrated throughout Warhol’s artwork is repetition. Repetition creates movement and rhythm in the painting. Andy uses the repetition in his paintings, such as Campbell’s Soup Cans, Marilyn Monroe, and Green Coca-Cola Bottles. The viewer's eye travels from one image to the next. If you look closely, the Campbell’s soup cans are not exactly the same because the flavor label is different. The Marilyn Monroe piece also differs in color schemes. From Andy’s tragic childhood to his career in modern art, he revolutionized society by providing a portrait of society’s consumerist nature. In all of his artwork, Warhol gives a new and different perspective to society by giving his artwork personality.

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