Andy grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania the son of a construction worker. His birth name was Andrew Warhola. When he was 8 years old he caught a liver disease that caused his limbs to sometimes spasm uncontrollably. While recovering his mother, an embroiderer and artist, taught him to draw. He was a quiet and shy child, but loved drawing, photography, and movies.
When Andy was fourteen, his father died from liver disease. His father considered Andy the brightest of his children and had saved money for Andy to go to college. When he graduated from high school, he went to Carnegie Mellon University to study art.
New York City
After graduating from college, Andy moved to New York in 1959 to make his name as an artist. Andy became a very successful commercial artist. On one of his first jobs his name in the credits was misspelled "Warhol" instead of "Warhola". Andy liked the name and decided to keep it.
Over the next ten years Andy did quite well working as a commercial artist. He won prizes for his work and was known for his unique style. However, Andy wanted to do more with his art. He wanted to do something new and different.
In 1961 Andy came up with the concept of using mass-produced commercial goods in his art. He called it Pop Art. He would use commercial images and reproduce them over and over. One early example of this was a series on Campbell's Soup cans. In one painting he had two hundred Campbell's soup cans repeated over and over. Andy often used silkscreen and lithography to create his pictures.
Andy also used pictures of famous people. He would repeat the same portrait over and over, but use different colors and effects in each picture. Some of the celebrities he had as subjects include Marilyn Monroe, Che Guevara, Mao Zedong, and Elizabeth Taylor.
Andy soon became a very famous celebrity himself. He opened a new studio called "The Factory". He not only worked on his art there, but had large parties with wealthy and famous people. It became one of the cool places to be in New York City. Andy was also selling a lot of his art.
Andy was a different kind of artist. While many artists focused entirely on their art with no interest in personal fame or fortune, Andy wanted to be rich and famous. Some artists accused him of making art in order to make money. However, many of the images he created have become iconic in American culture. His paintings have grown in value as well. One of his portraits called Eight Elvises sold for $100 million in 2008.
Despite having made a lot of money off of his art, Andy can also be credited with bringing art to the masses. He would mass produce prints of his art so it was affordable to everyone.
Interesting Facts about Andy Warhol
His birth date was never recorded at a hospital. Andy liked to change his birthday and make up stories about his youth when doing interviews with the press.
He once said that "good business is the best art."
He was also interested in film and music. He produced around 60 films and supported a band called the Velvet Underground. One of his movies was a 6 hour film of his friend sleeping called Sleep.
Andy was shot three times in the chest by feminist Valerie Solanis and nearly died on June 3, 1968.
He died in the hospital after surgery on his gall bladder.