Andy Warhol (1928 - 1987): Life and Creative
October 3, 2000 - November 28, 2000
Andy Warhol is a recognized king of Pop-Art and a symbolic figure in
the world culture of the 20th century. His life proved to be an example
of the unlimited potential of creative process as the painter's activities
included work in the cinema, video, fashion, music and publishing. In
the course of his 40-years long career he went the way from an illustrator
in advertising to the radical and audacious innovator, from a cinema man
to the portrait painter, from a timid observer to the world famous personality.
Andy Warhol was born and brought up in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in the
family of emigrants from Slovakia. After finishing a Technological Institute
of Carnegie in Pittsburg in 1949 Warhol moved to New York . Soon after
he started work as an illustrator in the fashion magazines including the
"Glamour" and "Harper Bazar". His works for the "I.Miller" shoe-making
company became a sensation.
In 1950-s his career of a brilliant master of drawing started. His earliest
works were images of cats - the subject inherited from his mother. Julia
Varhola was an amateur and some of her works are also represented at the
In 1956 Andy Warhol left the USA for the first time in his life and visited
Japan, Cambodia, India, Egypt and Italy. As a result of this journey came
the understanding that his ambitions rise above the commercial art. He
turned back to easel painting, got acquainted with actors from Central
Manhatten where new forms of all sorts of art emerged including dancing,
theatre and cinematography. Warhol enlarged images from the advertisements
in newspapers and magazines, from humour pages, other daily sources of
pop-art. Thus he created the "Coca-Cola" (1960), "Telephone" (1960), "Tins
with Soup "Campbell" (1960-1962). There were no uninteresting or boring
subjects for him. Boxes for the "Heinz" ketchup, for example, became the
symbols of abundancy and prosperity of America. The iconography of "americanisms"
of Warhol included images of the Statue of Liberty and of the dollar (bank-note
or a symbol) often met in his works of 1960-s.
In1962 the painter applied silkscreen process for transition the images
on a canvas directly by using advertising stencils, film stills and photos
as the objects. His portraits of stars as Elvis Presli, Elisabeth Taylor,
Merilin Monroe became classical. The main idea of Pop-Art for Warhol was
in equalizing of all the things in between them - the principle of a "bestseller".
The semantic contents of the "bestseller" includes well-sold records of
popular singers, films with stars, books and their creators rather than
foodstuff. The first personal exhibition of Warhol was held in 1952 and
featured fifteen drawings illustrating bestsellers by Trumap Capote.
The genre of portraiture enabling the painter to show a man and his inner
world occupies a significant place in the creative activities of Andy
Warhol. Many of the sitters he painted were famous people in the puplic
world, theatre and show business. The exhibition also represents a number
of self-portraits of the artist that reveal his striving for depicting
the charm of the youth and beauty, the course of time and the presence
of death - all the subjects were paid much attention to by the artist.
In his works on the topic of death and calamities running through all
his creative life ("Five deaths", 1963) Warhol renders the fear of mutilation
and death with astonishing vividness as long as he himself constantly
experienced this feeling. In 1969 Andy Warhol founded a magazine "Interview".
This monthly was devoted to cinema, arts, fashion, music, TV and many
other aspects of popular culture. In 1972 when the world attention was
focused at the visit of President of the USA Nikson to China Warhol created
monumental canvases, prints and drawings with the image of Mao Tse-Toung.
In the early 1980-s Andy Warhol started work at the series of pictures
connected with each other and depicting guns, knives, crosses and symbols
of a dollar. Like many other works of Warhol they are notable for the
deceptive simplicity of forms. But it is this simplicity that adds to
the images the brightness that is so characteristic of the modern culture
of the West. During the last ten years creations of Warhol turned to have
much in common with the Abstract Expressionism. The inclination of the
artist to abstract art was fully realized in 1979 in the painting made
on the BMW. This work gave Warhol the chance to render the idea of speed
through expressive brush-strokes making colour and drawing inseparable
( the artist left the trace of his gesture on the surface of the painting
in the shape of motion of the brush with paint and his own finger-prints).
Andy Warhol died in New York on February 22, 1987. Through his paintings,
objects, "underground" films, and personal life, he represents pop art
more than any other on the public imagination. According to Thomas Sokolowski,
Director of The Andy Warhol Museum, "The world has always recognized Andy
Warhol as the quintessential American artist, bar none. The Andy Warhol
Museum is extremely proud to add this tour on behalf of the United States
Government to its long list of international touring shows. As Warhol
said himself, he was, indeed, the mirror of his time. We are proud to
present this great American genius to the people who previously may only
have had access to his art through reproduction."
Statue of Liberty