US pop artist.
The son of Czechoslovak immigrant parents, Warhol was born and brought up in Pennsylvania. After studying pictorial design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh (1945–49), he was a successful commercial artist in New York before becoming a painter.
Ten years after his first one-man exhibition of 1952 he was the most widely known and most controversial of the pop artists. For subjects Warhol took the most banal and familiar illustrations from magazines and reproduced them, frequently employing repetition with slight variations, as in his 100 Soup Cans (1962). He aimed at impersonality in his work and gloried in mechanical mass-production; typical of his remarks were ‘I want to be a machine’ and ‘I think it would be terrific if everybody was alike’. He made extensive use of silk-screen printing, most of which was done by assistants after the early sixties – he called his studio ‘The Factory’. Warhol also made a cult of being boring and superficial. ‘I like boring things’ he said of his six-hour film Sleep (1964), in which there is virtually no discernible movement.
Having announced his retirement as an artist in 1965, he devoted himself to film: his Chelsea Girls was the first underground film to be seen in commercial cinemas. He continued to produce drawings and constructions and also managed The Velvet Underground rock group during their early career. In 1975 Warhol wrote in his The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: ‘Business Art is the step that comes after Art.’