Style Mavens & Mavericks: Andy Warhol
By Nadia Buick | Posted in Art Class | 19 July 2012 2:08PM
It’s virtually impossible to imagine what contemporary art would look like if Andy Warhol had never existed. Like art-giants Picasso and Duchamp before him, Warhol forever changed what we consider art to be, and how it can look. Even today, it’s rare to visit a contemporary art museum and not encounter a confused viewer mumbling to themselves, ‘that’s not art!’ Well, if you’re looking for someone to blame (or praise!) for this situation, Warhol more than deserves his place on your list.
Warhol is a major figure of the Pop Art movement, which took its subject matter from mass culture: think camp, kitsch, celebrity and everyday icons like Coca-cola and Campbell’s soup. While this might not seem very revolutionary today, at the time this work presented a major challenge to the fine art establishment, and Warhol was one of its most famous poster boys.
While Warhol became one of the most significant artists of the 20th century, he originally trained as a commercial artist and was a successful illustrator for magazines after moving from his home town of Pittsburgh to New York in 1949.
By the early 1960s Warhol began exhibiting his iconic Pop Art images, including silk screens of Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s Soup Cans. He worked across painting, drawing, printmaking, photography and film-making, and had a number of long-term assistants whom he collaborated with to produce large amounts of work at ‘The Factory,’ his infamous New York studio.
In 1968, Warhol was shot by a member of The Factory scene, Valerie Solanas. While he wasn’t killed, this event scarred Warhol physically and emotionally for the rest of his life. The 1970s saw him turn to his large-scale celebrity portraits, including figures like Mick Jagger and John Lennon. By the 1980s Warhol began to collaborate with a new generation of artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat (who I’ll tell you more about in a future post).
Sadly, Warhol died of complications following surgery for his gall-bladder in 1987. A hoarder for his entire life, it took nine days to auction off all of Warhol’s possessions.
Warhol was prolific, strange and ultimately changed the face of contemporary art. He also had a knack for distilling popular culture, coining the term ‘15 minutes of fame.’ If only he were alive to see the growth of reality television - he would have loved it!
- David Bowie’s performance as Andy Warhol in the film Basquiat
- I shot Andy Warhol
- Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film
- Andy Warhol Diaries
Visit the QUT Art Museum to see an exhibition of Roy Lichtenstein’s work, another major figure of Pop Art, until August 26.
When: Until August 26th 2012
Where: QUT Art Museum | 2 George Street