'The power to define what art is, and who is an artist, is concentrated in the art world". Art helps us express our feelings and pass on a certain message. Art can be presented in many forms including paintings and sculptures. Different artists use different art forms to display their inner feelings. Pieces of art can be found in many different places. Exclusively, they are found in museums. They include art masterpieces that date back to ancient times. Many modern museums are rich in historical and modern ways of art expression where basic steps to explore art mastery are used. Museums cater for the whole society and its divergent life experiences and cultural background represented by means of pieces of art. The choice of the museums is so rich and natural. This is the best place to achieve knowledge and experience from the modern artworks. This is because there is a range of pieces of art that are displayed.
The late Andy Warhol, an American painter, was a pioneer in creating artworks that were outstanding. Most of his works are focused on the pop culture. He was also a filmmaker and publisher. This paper is going to explore most of his works that were considered to revolve around celebrities who belong to the pop culture. My discussion is mainly focused on the artworks he created concerning fashion, style and Hollywood. These are the major areas he found inspiration for his artworks. They were nature, people and things that fascinated and prompted him to continue his work. Some of his works are on the next page.
Andrew Warhol was an unpretentious artist, who died at the peak of his career. He lived only 58 years. He was born on August 6, 1928, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and died on February 22, 1987. His parents were immigrants from Czechoslovakia. Andrew was the youngest son in the family. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression occurred in the world when he was born. Just like many families, his father had difficulty in getting employed to support his family, making Andy’s childhood life deprived of basic needs. However, after toiling for many years, his family got some income to help Andrew attend a commercial design course. He attended it at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Institute of Technology. His shyness and fear to fail in his coursework did not hold him back to achieve a successful degree. He is perceived to be the most influential artist of the second half of 20th century who dealt with pop art (James, 1989, p80).
He used a unique and easily recognizable signature style to sign his artworks. Techniques, he used, include silk-screening to generate matching images on canvas. Then he varied the colors to make all of them look dissimilar. His encounter with Tina Fredericks, who was the editor of the Glamour Magazine in 1949, took place after his graduation from school. This was also determined by the fact that he shifted his residence from one place to another in Manhattan. He got a spot to make several drawings for the magazine. In fact, Andy’s real name was Andrew Warhola, but he dropped the last letter ‘a’ in 1949 after his first shoes demonstration in New York. He realized that his name Andrew was not included in the credits. Furthermore, one of his works where he drew shoes was wrongly titled. He settled on the youthful name, as he considered it, Andy Warhol. He rapidly succeeded and got highly paid in the 1950’s, though he dreadfully needed the same results as a fine artist. Unfortunately, his efforts were all in vain and eventually he decided to sell out some of his exhibits.
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His artistic works display simplicity coupled with creativity. This is an example of a work of art that has been created with a purpose. It is for this reason that it has received attention and recognition all over the world. The work is an appreciation of the individualism concept plus collectivism. This implies that though people have different opinions, there is still a possibility to build one nation. It promotes unity and peace in the whole world. Through art, people are able to realize that they have very many things in common. Generally, art is vital because it helps people learn something and appreciate one another. This is because art helps us reflect our lives. Eventually, through the concepts of the artist, we are able to change for the better. Through Wathol’s work, people are able to share and learn their opinions.
"Paintings are too hard. The things I want to show are mechanical. Machines have less problems. I'd like to be a machine, wouldn't you?"(Andy Warhol, 1963, p87). Andy was mainly interested in fashion and style. He could exclusively obtain this in Hollywood because many celebrities who embrace pop culture and are adorned because of these characteristics are observed and found there. He shifted his interests to his artwork, arguing that there is no major variation between a department store and a museum. Art and life, as he believed, had strong bonds whereby art could be a decoration, a fashion, and politics. He also borrowed art and images from various popular cultures and modernized them using his own unique style, just like other artistes, like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns (Matarazzo, 1998, p33). Marcel Duchamp was one of his main influential figures who took commonplace items and exhibited them as finished works of art. Andy’s works thoroughly challenged contemporary notion concerning creativity and uniqueness as he displayed the concept of an artist’s individual role in his artwork. His passion for money, mass culture and fame defied high art blurring and its distinctions with pop culture (Koestenbaum, 2003, p90).
His success and fame during the 1960s was fueled by his work on 1 Miller shoes, which was well known and appreciated, not only in America, but also in the whole world. Pop art was an investigational type that numerous artists were solely taking up, Roy Lichtenstein being one of the pioneers. Warhol also adopted this style, maybe, because he saw an array of opportunities associated with it. He would become popular in his art as the ‘Pope of Pop’. His early works centre of attention was the adoption of cartoon paintings, ads and these were hand-painted. In April, 1961, his first paintings dealing with pop art were displayed in New York Department Store, Bronwit Teller's window as its background. Confirming his prowess in this, he was at the same platform with Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, and Jasper Johns. In the end, Warhol branded images as icons in his artwork for celebrities like Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe; brand names, dollar signs, Disasters, and CocaColaBottles among others (Bourdon, 1989, p222).
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The death of Andy Warhol, twenty years ago, has not shaken his influential character in the pop culture and contemporary art. He was a critical art thinker and he influenced most of scholars and his fans in research and innovation. He operated in a New York studio which he nicknamed “The Factory”. He captured his work mostly on video. His first film was taken in 1963 with the help of his new Bolex camera. He started using video in 1965 in the following films:
- Sleep (1963),
- Blow Job (1964),
- Empire (1963),
- Kiss (1963-64)
- Chelsea Girls (1966)
The above films were screened and sold out in major cities namely New York, Cannes and Los Angeles. They are considered as classics and still watched by many people up to now.
He stated publicly about his retirement after an exposition of Flowers in Paris, France. This did not stop him from producing prints, sculptures, films and paintings. The logos that include those of Heinz Ketchup and Brillo are some of the sculptures he created. He did not only use sculpture and painting to increase his fame in pop art, but he also extended his interest in musical performances by travelling to various cities. He invented The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, with the Velvet Underground and Nico (Scherman & Dalton, 2009, p45).
Andy Warhol’s life changed drastically after an attempt on his life through a gunshot in 1968. This was executed by a fundamental feminist author, Valerie Solanas. It took place at the very entrance to his work place, the Factory. This happened concurrently with rising pressures from the Internal Revenue Service. This was fuelled by the opposition he had against President Richard Nixon. He decided to have an account of his life even in minor circumstances, dictating his activities, expenses and even taped 3400 audios about his life (The Warhol Diaries, 1987, p56). He had a well-built business in custom-built portraits, and brilliantly-colored paintings of entertainers, politicians, sports personalities, authors, and presidents. His drawings, prints, paintings and photographs at the moment are: The Last Supper, Skulls, Camouflage, Guns and Mao. The Last Supper was his final exhibition (Garrels, 1989, p56).
The Last Supper was exceedingly outstanding. This piece of art is visually stimulating in getting to observe how you can turn anything into something appealing and at the same time a piece that defies all natural norms. It consists of incorporate objects which we use in the everyday life. They are taken and combined in rather simple way. These everyday objects are turned out into something magnificent that demands attention from various art gurus. This piece like many of his other pieces of art is a combination of small-scale household items that respond to and infiltrate the surrounding architecture. This piece incorporates the use of very diverse objects that lack any hint of correlation into one interconnected piece that may deceive one that all the tools used in the making of the piece of art are quite similar. He has managed to take bits and pieces of simple discrete objects and combine them to form one complex art work that leaves many with the question of how the sculpture had came about. His style in mixing and matching a simple into a complex has enabled him to explore the linkages between the everyday life and the work of art.