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Andy Warhol

(American, 1928-1987)

Andy Warhol began his career as a commercial illustrator in the 1960s and over the succeeding twenty years developed an diverse artistic career in print making, avant-garde film making, writing, publishing, music producing and acting. With his background and experience in commercial art, Warhol was one of the founders of the Pop Art movement in the United States in the 1950s.

Warhol is best known for his extremely simple, larger-than-life, high-contrast color paintings, packaged consumer products, everyday objects, such as Campbell's Soup, and the banana appearing on the cover of the rock music album The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967), and his stylized portraits of twentieth-century celebrity icons, such as Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.

Warhol first exhibited in an art gallery in 1962, when the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles showed his 32 Campbell's Soup Cans. Warhol’s work all spanned from one central insight. He believed that in the modern world of  information culture, where most people experience most things at second or third hand through TV and print, through images that are disassociated through constant repetition, there is role for affectless art. Warhol absorbed the collective American state of mind in which celebrity - the famous image of a person, the famous brand name - had completely replaced both sacredness and solidity. Warhol's repetative style, such as his thirty-two soup cans are about nothing of the kind. They are about sameness: they mimic the condition of mass advertising, out of which his sensibility had grown. This fascinated and yet indifferent take on the object, became the key to Warhol's work; it is there in the repetition of stars' faces and as a record of the condition of being an uninvolved spectator it speaks eloquently about the condition of image overload in a media saturated culture. Warhol extended it by using silk screen, and not bothering to clean up the imperfections of the print: those slips of the screen, uneven inkings of the roller, and general graininess. What they suggested was not the humanizing touch of the hand but the pervasiveness of routine error.

Andy Warhol