Andy Warhol was an American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement that flourished by the 1960s. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist. The Andy Warhol Museum in his native city, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, holds an extensive permanent collection of art and archives. It is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist.
Warhol’s art used many types of media, including hand drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, silk screening, sculpture, film, and music. He was also a pioneer in computer-generated art using Amiga computers that were introduced in 1984, two years before his death.
He founded Interview Magazine and was the author of numerous books, including The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and Popism: The Warhol Sixties. He managed and produced the Velvet Underground, a rock band which had a strong influence on the evolution of punk rock music. He is also notable as a gay man who lived openly as such before the gay liberation movement. His studio, The Factory, was a famous gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities, and wealthy patrons.
Warhol has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, books, and feature and documentary films. He coined the widely used expression “15 minutes of fame”. Many of his creations are very collectible and highly valuable. The highest price ever paid for a Warhol painting is US$105 million for a 1963 canvas titled “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)”. A 2009 article in The Economist described Warhol as the “bellwether of the art market”. Warhol’s works include some of the most expensive paintings ever sold.
In the mid-1960s, Warhol adopted the band the Velvet Underground, making them a crucial element of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable multimedia performance art show. Warhol, with Paul Morrissey, acted as the band’s manager, introducing them to Nico (who would perform with the band at Warhol’s request). In 1966 he “produced” their first album The Velvet Underground & Nico, as well as providing its album art.
Warhol designed many album covers for various artists starting with the photographic cover of John Wallowitch’s debut album, ‘This Is John Wallowitch!!!’ in 1964. He designed the cover art for The Rolling Stones’ albums ‘Sticky Fingers’ in 1971 and ‘Love You Live’ in 1977, Andy designed the John Cale albums ‘The Academy in Peril’ in 1972 and ‘Honi Soit’ in 1981. One of Warhol’s last works was a portrait of Aretha Franklin for the cover of her 1986 gold album Aretha, which was done in the style of the Reigning Queens series he had completed the year before.
Warhol strongly influenced the new wave/punk rock band Devo, as well as David Bowie. Bowie recorded a song called “Andy Warhol” for his 1971 album Hunky Dory. Lou Reed wrote the song “Andy’s Chest”, about Valerie Solanas, the woman who shot Warhol, in 1968.