Who was Andy Warhol?

From inventing pop art to creating bright visual artwork based on popular icons, Marilyn Monroe and Queen Elizabeth II, Andy Warhol was a credit to the art scene.

This artist inspired so many other art forms and artists, but who was Andy Warhol, and how did his work change the art world? We uncover everything you need to know in the insightful blog post.

What was Andy Warhol famous for?

Andy Warhol's Marilyn Diptych painting

Andy Warhol was an iconic artist, known as the “king of 1960s counterculture”. He was famous for his innovative take on illustration art. If you’re wondering “what art movement did Andy Warhol belong to?”, it was pop art - a new style that he introduced.

Pop art was all about subverting the traditional norms of fine art and replacing this with comic-style imagery, and illustrations of mass-produced products (and popular culture).

Warhol broke into the art scene so rapidly because of his portrayal of consumerism; it was this that made his art stand out from the crowd. He wanted to expose people’s newfound obsession with material products as well as the influence of marketing and advertisements in popular culture, which became central to America in the ‘50s, ‘60s and beyond.

What did Andy Warhol paint?

Warhol painted original, quirky and modern designs that told a story of the world and culture he was living in. His prints covered everything from famous pop culture icons (like Marilyn Monroe and Mohammed Ali) to designs featuring popular commercial brands, such as Coca-Cola and Campbell’s Soup.

When was Andy Warhol born?

Andy Warhol was born in 1928, in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, being christened “Andrew Warhola”. His parents introduced him to drawing when he was just eight years old while he recovered from a childhood illness. Then at the age of nine, his mother gave him his first camera. It was then that .he began snapping shots of anything and everything that interested him!

How did Andy Warhol get into art?

Warhol’s dream to further his art interests was greatly supported by his parents. At 14, his father sadly died, but this is where Warhol’s art journey began, as his father’s life savings were left to him purposely, to support his artistic endeavours/education.

What school did Andy Warhol go to?

Warhol wanted to attend institutes that furthered his artistic interests, so after high school, he studied pictorial design at Carnegie Mellon University (which was previously named Carnegie Institute of Technology when Warhol attended). But what happened after he graduated?

  • Warhol moved to New York City, America, to start his art career.
  • He became a commercial illustrator for the popular magazine, Glamour.
  • Warhol’s unique and imaginative style was regularly recognised, with him receiving various awards for his work.

So, what inspired Andy Warhol?

Blue, white and black painting hung on Andy Warhol Bridge

Andy Warhol may have been an innovator, but he took inspiration from artists before him and even those who emerged while he was popular in the art scene.

As well Warhol’s parents, Julia Warhola spearheaded his artistic journey. She encouraged him to draw from a young age, and created brilliant fine line artwork herself that he soon incorporated into his famous art pieces.

He also owned a collection of artwork produced by Marcel Duchamp, respecting her ability to challenge traditional art and its place in society. This is something he later went on to do, which is evident from his paintings.

What about newer influences?

The likes of newer artists, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg encouraged him to sustain his creativity and experimentation with art. These outside influences helped Warhol to expand his collection of paintings considerably, proven when he started producing paintings of whacky comic strips and popular ‘60s advertisements.

Warhol was constantly trying new things, whether this was new art forms, taking up sculpture work or toying with styles he had taken an interest in. He also became a novelist, and worked in TV, hosting Andy Warhol’s TV and Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes, shown on MTV.

What works of art is Warhol most famous for?

Yellow and red Andy Warhol painting of Campbell's Tomato Soup

Image source - Flickr: Pedro Ribeiro Simões, License

Warhol’s creations were known by all at the time of production, and are still admired and bought today. Warhol designed a variety of impressive pieces, but some of his pop art paintings were particularly well-known by art aficionados, as well as newcomers to the art landscape.

So, what works of art is Andy Warhol most famous for and where can you see them now?

  1. Marilyn Diptych, 1962 – You can view this monumental piece at Tate Modern, London.
  2. Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962 and Campbell’s Soup I, 1968 - Both pieces are held in The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  3. Coca-Cola (3), 1962 – You can visit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas to see this popular painting.
  4. Brillo Box, 1964 - The National Gallery of Canada, in the capital city of Ottawa, Ontario is where you’ll find this excellent piece.
  5. Brillo Soap Pads, 1970 – Head to the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt. Germany to see this classic Warhol painting.

What techniques did Andy Warhol use?

One of the reasons Andy Warhol was so famous is because he experimented with printmaking, which was unique for the time. The silkscreen prints he produced repeated the images he was depicting continuously, with each accompanying picture differing slightly from the last.

Different squares of his designs would feature colours that were bold, bright and varied, making each piece stand out. Warhol created what were initially simple images and transformed them into something vibrant and memorable.  

When did Andy Warhol die?

Film crew interviewing about Andy Warhol

Image source - Flickr: COD Newsroom, License

Warhol died on the 22nd of February 1987, suffering from a cardiac arrest after having gallbladder surgery.

Many people assume he passed away when he was shot by Valerie Solanas in 1968, but he survived this life-threatening incident. He lived on, despite being (mis)pronounced dead in the hospital emergency room.

However, before this occurred, he had a childhood fear of hospitals, a fear which was exacerbated after the shooting. Ultimately, this is what stopped him from getting medical attention sooner for his gallbladder and led him to die sooner.

How much is Andy Warhol’s art worth now?

It’s hard to sum up Andy Warhol’s total net worth but his superb artwork paintings, prints and posters are priced from $600 to over $100 million. His art prints can completely differ in price, as the cost depends on the interest in the pieces, and the number of other similar prints in circulation at the time.

Recently (May 9th, 2022), Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn print was deemed the most expensive 20th-century art piece to ever sell at an auction. It was sold for an astonishing and record-breaking $195 million. Evidently, Warhol’s talented designs are still worth a great deal of money, even today!

Discover more about Warhol and other brilliant artists 

Blonde haired woman admiring female art portrait on wall

You’ll now have a greater understanding of Andy Warhol’s background as an artist, and know more about the artwork he produced and its influence on the current art scene. So, head to galleries in London and across the world that displayAndy Warhol’s contemporary prints, to see his great works in person.

If you’re hoping to learn more about other artists like Warhol, or want to discover more useful information about different art styles, visit our blog for even more artistic insights!