Andy Warhol: Founder of Illustrative Modern Art
Andy Warhol is famous for his American perspective on illustrative modern art. He combined commercialism with visual art display and broke the traditional conventions of fine art. Warhol’s pop art creations are crowning achievements from a lifetime of design and artistry.
Born on August 6, 1928, as Andrew Warhola, the artist grew up in an Eastern European household. His parents had emigrated from Slovakia, and settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by the time Warhol was born. His family’s strong cultural ties and heritage shaped his formative years.
Andy Warhol’s artistic talents emerged at an early age. His parents realized that their son had a gift for drawing.
Andy suffered from an illness that kept him bedridden called Sydenham chorea. Sydenham chorea, or St. Vitus dance, is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements.
To pass the time in bed, Warhol refined his drawing skills. His siblings and mother would help Warhol learn how to trace shapes. By the time, the artist was in high school, his drawing skills had developed significantly.
When Andy’s father died in 1942, he promised to honour his father’s wishes for him to attend college. In 1945, Andy was accepted at Carnegie Institute of Technology (presently known as Carnegie-Mellon University).
His bad grades the first year nearly cost him the opportunity. He regained his academic footing by attending extra classes during summer semester. All the while, Warhol continued to draw any chance he could.
Carnegie Mellon University allowed Warhol to remain enrolled in school. Their decision was largely based on his artwork and appeals by Russell and Loreen Twiggs.
Andy Warhol saw a turning point in his life; he chose to embrace his artistry. And with that, he began to see monetary value in his work. He was awarded a scholarship that helped pay for school costs.
Between attending college and his job of department store design, Warhol found he lacked creative time. He wanted freedom from the monotony of everyday life to refine his artistic message. When he graduated from college in 1949, Warhol jumped on a train to New York City with a classmate.
He and Philip Pearlstein landed in the world of business and product illustration. Around this time, Andy changed his last name, developing the famous Warhol signature. And by the early 1950s, Warhol had become a regular name with major fashion magazines like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Glamour.
For the next decade, the artist cut his teeth on illustrations for magazines, record albums, commercial projects, and advertisements. By 1960 Warhol was ready to put down roots and begin his fine art phase.
The success and income Warhol made from his first professional work allowed him to pursue creativity as his priority. As a result, he began to experiment with the classic comic strip look combined with advertising themes and motifs. It was new, unconventional, and different. Immediately, Warhol gained acclaimed attention in the fine art world.
His style became poster-like, and the pop art movement began to take shape. The idea of taking a well-known image and transforming it into another piece of art was his signature.
The Campbell soup can Andy Warhol painting became his most famous of everyday images. It turned pop art into sought after auction pieces.
In the 1960’s, Warhol produced much of his best work. He became even more prolific after developing a method of combining his imagery with silk-screening. With well received shows in New York and Los Angeles, Warhol became famous on both coasts.
His artwork gained even more popularity with the explosion of youth culture in music and art. It’s no surprise that Warhol became a figurative leader of this new cultural movement even though his art started well before the drug fueled hippy 1960s era.
By the 1970s Warhol was able to enjoy his notoriety and acclaim. He started Interview magazine and was a regular face in the jet set party scene through to 1980. While he continued to produce artwork, the modern art world evolved away from his illustrative pieces.
Andy Warhol was a visionary for the art world. Tragically, his life was cut short in 1987 after dying from complications in a routine surgery.
His artwork remains one of the most sought-after collections in the world. Warhol’s iconic imagery and style continues to inspire many artists in the modern art movement.
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