During the 1960s, Andy Warhol burst into the American consciousness as a free spirit, and soon became an icon of Pop-Art, experimental films and music. His friends included intellectuals, street people, celebrities and wealthy patrons. He suggested that achievement is not a prerequisite for renown, in that anyone can have "15 minutes of fame." Warhol changed the way most people view art, and made celebrity-watching a popular cult fascination. Few people really knew him well, for he portrayed himself as a superstar without a distinct personality but with an always evolving self-image.
As the "Pope of Pop," Warhol's subjects led the avant-garde art world in new directions with new subjects, ranging from celebrities to Campbell's soup cans, Coca Cola, Brillo boxes and other brand-names. Using a silk-printing process and bright colors, he mass-produced his paintings from his studio, aptly named the "Factory." Warhol may not have painted all of his famous images himself; he ran the Factory with many assistants and apprentices who actually did at least some of the painting. Pop-Art is a style that highlights consumerism and popular culture. Warhol used his vantage point to offer unique insights into consumer behavior as it focused on the mass-produced world of celebrity fame, brand names and consumption.
Warhol changed the way consumers view products by revealing that this country is united most strongly by commercialism. In Warhol's 1987 obituary in "Advertising Age," Lenore Skenazy commented that "his work pointed out the similarities between mass-produced goods such as soup, cleaners, celebrities, and news 'events' in a way that made clearer how images are manufactured." It went on to suggest that America saw itself through him. But not everyone had praise for Warhol. According to Eric Ernst in a recent article for the "East Hampton Press," one critic called Warhol "the most brilliant mirror of our times," while writer Robert Hughes called him "one of the stupidest people I've ever met in my life."
One of Warhol's most important contributions to the newly emerging egalitarianism in American culture was celebrity worship. He compared the famous image of a celebrity to a popular brand name. He painted Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Chairman Mao, Troy Donahue, Muhammad Ali, Liza Minnelli and Elizabeth Taylor. Warhol suggested that in America, the richest consumed the same things as the poorest. The President and Liz Taylor both drank Coke, as did construction workers and teachers.
Films and Music
In addition to Elvis Presley, Warhol associated with other musicians, such as Mick Jagger, Diana Ross and John Lennon, and successfully promoted David Bowie, both as a musician and actor. These were well-known symbols whom he presented to the public as icons. He promoted a rock group, the Velvet Underground, and the film personality Edie Sedgwick. Warhol also made a mark on Roxy Music, the Ramones, the Talking Heads and several other New York City-based rock groups.
- Visual-Arts-Cork: Pop-Art Movement
- The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts: Warhol's Legacy
- The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press: The Super Artist In the Supermarket; Eric Ernst; May 2011
- The Independent: Andy Warhol's 'Jewish geniuses' still fuelling debate; Matilda Battersby; August 2011)
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