Andy Warhol, whose name is synonymous with Pop Art, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and grew up in nearby McKeesport. He studied art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology from 1945 to 1949 and then went to New York City, where he became an illustrator. In 1960, he changed from illustration work to creating paintings based on comic strip characters, such as Popeye, Dick Tracey and Superman.
Warhol turned from the prevailing abstract-expressionist styles and the emphasis on the artist’s emotion to a hard-line realism, using many common images associated with the popular media, such as a Campbell Soup can, a Coca-Cola bottle or a Brillo Pad. The first images he created were hand painted, but many were reproduced with a silk-screen process. He became the “first artist to utilize the screen-print medium to elevate both common and famous photographic images from popular culture to fine art status” (Falk).
In 1964, Warhol began making sculpture, often with labels from supermarkets, and in the 1970’s, he turned to portraits, some of the most famous being Jackie Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Mao Tse Tung. Many celebrities and socialites regarded it as a notch up the ladder of recognition to be painted by Warhol.
In May 1999, ARTNews magazine named Warhol one of the 25 most influential artists ever. “…. it all began with the first Campbell’s Soup can in 1962…With this simple image, the concepts of appropriation and commodification were let loose for good. Warhol’s celebration of his screen sirens, hustler hunks and café-society wanna-bees…had an equally dramatic effect.”
Warhol died in 1987 in New York City from unexpected complications during his gall bladder surgery.
Reference: AskArt.com, Peter Falk Who Was Who in American Art, Matthew Baigell Dictionary of American Art, ARTNews May 1999