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Andy Warhol - The Phenomenon

Andy Warhol - The Phenomenon

In 1928, Andy Warhola Jr was born in Pittsburgh to Austro-Hungarian Catholic immigrants. He was a precociously talented teen, winning a Scholastic Art and Writing Award. Immediately after obtaining a Bachelors in Fine Arts in pictorial design he would move to New York, change his name to Andy Warhol, and begin working as a commercial illustrator.

A young Andy Warhola Jr

Throughout the 1950s, Warhol would work mainly as a designer of shoes while taking on various other commissions and occasionally exhibiting his own art. It was in 1962 – the same year that Warhol learned screen printing - that he would break through with a feature in Time magazine and a successful exhibition bearing many of his now-famous motifs. Gold Marilyn, Campbell’s Soup Cans, 200 One Dollar Bills, and Marilyn Diptych were all present, among others. It was the show that launched Warhol into immediate significance, resonating well beyond the art world despite – or perhaps aided by – the controversy surrounding it.

Shot Sage Blue Marilyn - recently sold for $195m

Warhol understood that in the new age, where fame was the most valuable currency, he himself was an aspect of the art. Previously, artists put the work first, and only when called upon often turned out to be opinionated, driven individuals. Warhol inverted this. In interviews his persona was that of Hollywood starlets – shy, coquettish, and self-deprecating. At the same time, he would turn himself into a visually recognisable icon with his white wig and thick glasses. He would make himself the way he made his images: Immediate, memorable, and obvious.

Despite his apparent passivity, Warhol proved to be an incredibly industrious artist. His studio, which he named The Factory, was not just a place of work, but a venue and meeting spot for all walks of New York life. Drawn there by Warhol’s cult of personality, musicians, writers, and members of New York’s most fringe subcultures would end up inspiring, collaborating with, and participating in his work. His openness and fascination with New York’s underground would also turn out dangerous, however, when in 1968 he survived an assassination attempt by a radical member of his coterie.

Newspaper announcement following Warhol's shooting

By the end of the 60s Warhol would have produced multiple avant-garde films, created several books, and produced The Velvet Underground one of the most influential rock bands of all time. His distinctive aesthetic would be mimicked by advertisers, and other artists would follow in his aesthetic footsteps. The importance and vitality of his art single-handedly revitalised the art market.

Throughout the 70s, Warhol would struggle somewhat, though he remained a fixture on the ever-changing New York scene, becoming good friends with prominent actors, musicians, and artists. When the art world experienced another bull market in the 80s, however, Warhol would be thrust into international prominence once again.

Among other foremost artists he would be commissioned to do work for the 1984 Yugoslavian Olympics, and would exhibit on a large scale again, such as with Reigning Queens. His largest contribution, however, would be in delivering his friend and protégé Jean Michel Basquiat to eminence.

"I want to be as famous as the Queen" - Warhol

Warhol died in 1987, but his work still breaks records at auction as it continues to prove how socially insightful and culturally important he was.

Now, with fractional ownership at Showpiece.com, you too have a rare opportunity to own part of the legendary artist’s work, without having to pay record-breaking prices.

-Johnny Vineaux