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Andy Warhol

A silkscreen self-portrait of Andy Warhol. Warhol hold his chin in his hand in a contemplative pose. A close-up of his face is rendered in a graphic style in pink and green, on a blue background.
Andy Warhol. Self-Portrait, 1966. Gift of Edlis|Neeson Collection.
Also known as
Andrew Warhola, 安迪·沃霍尔
Date of birth
Date of death

No artist is more closely associated with advertising, consumer culture, and mass media than Andy Warhol. Through his brazen appropriation of images and his radical use of the photo-emulsion silkscreen process, the artist became synonymous with Pop. His ability to produce the same image—over and over, quickly and efficiently—upset traditional boundaries between fine and commercial art. In his most distinctive works, Warhol embraced both consumer products and Hollywood personalities, rendering Campbell’s Soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles as stars and celebrities like Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor as products—and vice versa. 

Born in Pittsburgh, Warhol studied pictorial design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). He moved to New York during the post–World War II economic boom and worked throughout the 1950s as an illustrator for clients that included I. Miller Shoes, Tiffany and Company, and Vogue. He brought the same savvy entrepreneurial approach of his advertising work to his first engagements in 1961 with Pop Art, a movement that began in Great Britain in the 1950s. Throughout his life, Warhol remained captivated by celebrity and the role that media plays in fashioning persona, ideas he explored in his social and artistic production and through experiments in underground cinema, publishing, photography, and performance.

Many of the iconic paintings in the Edlis Neeson Collection at the Art Institute emphasize Warhol’s engagement with portraiture. For Twelve Jackies (1964), which comes from a body of work created shortly after the death of John F. Kennedy, Warhol selected a press photograph of the former first lady at the president’s funeral following his assassination. By cropping and enlarging the image, Warhol focused attention on his subject much like a film director using a close-up lens, ultimately conveying that notoriety could be found even, and perhaps especially, in tragedy. Little Race Riot (1964) and Big Electric Chair (1967–68) similarly express Warhol’s fixation on the disturbing realities of violence that haunt American life, while two self-portraits of 1964 and 1966 poetically demonstrate his obsession with his own self-image.

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