(Born August 6, 1928) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.—died February 22, 1987, New York, New York) American artist and filmmaker, an initiator and leading exponent of the Pop art movement of the 1960s whose mass-produced art apotheosized the supposed banality of the commercial culture of the United States. An adroit self-publicist, he projected a concept of the artist as an impersonal, even vacuous, figure who is nevertheless a successful celebrity, businessman, and social climber.
The son of Czechoslovak immigrants, Warhol graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, with a degree in pictorial design in 1949. He then went to New York City, where he worked as a commercial illustrator for about a decade. Warhol began painting in the late 1950s and received sudden notoriety in 1962, when he exhibited paintings of Campbell’s soup cans, Coca-Cola bottles, and wooden replicas of Brillo soap pad boxes. By 1963 he was mass-producing these purposely banal images of consumer goods by means of photographic silk screen prints, and he then began printing endless variations of portraits of celebrities in garish colours. The silk screen technique was ideally suited to Warhol, for the repeated image was reduced to an insipid and dehumanized cultural icon that reflected both the supposed emptiness of American material culture and the artist’s emotional noninvolvement with the practice of his art. Warhol’s work placed him in the forefront of the emerging Pop art movement in America.
As the 1960s progressed, Warhol devoted more of his energy to filmmaking. Usually classed as underground films, such motion pictures of his as The Chelsea Girls(1966), Eat (1963), My Hustler (1965), and Blue Movie (1969) are known for their inventive eroticism, plotless boredom, and inordinate length (up to 25 hours). In 1968 Warhol was shot and nearly killed by one of his would-be followers, a member of his assemblage of underground film and rock music stars, assorted hangers-on, and social curiosities. Warhol had by this time become a well-known fixture on the fashion and avant-garde art scene and was an influential celebrity in his own right. Throughout the 1970s and until his death he continued to produce prints depicting political and Hollywood celebrities, and he involved himself in a wide range of advertising illustrations and other commercial art projects. His The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, published in 1975, was followed by Portraits of the Seventies (1979) and Andy Warhol’s Exposures (1979).