Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987) defined the Pop Art movement. Born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, PA, he moved to New York in 1949 after studying design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh to pursue a career as a commercial artist. Though successful as an illustrator and graphic designer, in the early 1960s Warhol began creating his own paintings based on advertisement imagery. Shocking in its time for its embrace of “low art” and detachment from emotion, his early work quickly brought him fame, as he produced the now-infamous series of Campbell’s Soup Cans, Disasters, Electric Chairs, and celebrity portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, and Elvis Presley, among others, using commercial techniques such as screen printing and stenciling. As his fame grew, Warhol built a studio called The Factory on 47th street and collected an entourage of eccentrics he called the “Superstars,” with whom he created a number of experimental films, such as Sleep, Chelsea Girls, and Empire, which were often banned by the police for their perceived vulgarity.
In 1968, Valerie Solanas, a former member of Warhol’s entourage, attempted to kill the artist and others outside of The Factory. Narrowly surviving, Warhol withdrew from his bohemian circle and occupied himself in the 1970s creating celebrity portraits, which brought him considerable earnings, but weakened his critical approval. With Gerard Malanga, Warhol also founded Interview Magazine, which remains in print to this day. In the 1980s, Warhol’s work was revitalized by collaborations with younger artists, such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, and Keith Haring, and he produced renowned series of paintings such as The Last Supper.
Warhol died in 1987 due to complications following an operation. As per his desire, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts was established after his death.