Andy Warhol – Research project

I am intrigued by Andy Warhol because I like his style and the way his art seems very contemporary. At this stage I don’t know very much about his work, but what I seen so far I was quite impressed with.

I started my research on Andy’s Wikipedia page.
I’ve created the below mind map based on things that I’ve read on the wiki page that attracted my attention.

The keywords for my research will be:

  • Commercial to Controversial Artist
  • Pop Art
  • The Factory
  • 15 Minutes of Fame

I have also watched the BBC documentary Modern Masters 1of 4 – Andy Warhol. This film talks about his life and his art and was created by Alastair Sooke.


Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the United Kingdom and the United States during the mid- to late-1950s. The movement presented a challenge to traditions of fine art by including imagery from popular and mass culture, such as advertising, comic books and mundane cultural objects. One of its aims is to use images of popular (as opposed to elitist) culture in art, emphasizing the banal or kitschy elements of any culture, most often through the use of irony.[ It is also associated with the artists’ use of mechanical means of reproduction or rendering techniques. In pop art, material is sometimes visually removed from its known context, isolated, or combined with unrelated material.

Pop art often takes imagery that is currently in use in advertising. Product labeling and logos figure prominently in the imagery chosen by pop artists, seen in the labels of Campbell’s Soup Cans, by Andy Warhol. Even the labeling on the outside of a shipping box containing food items for retail has been used as subject matter in pop art, as demonstrated by Warhol’s Campbell’s Tomato Juice Box, 1964 (pictured below).
Andy Warhol – Campbell’s tomato juice box (1964–1964)

The BBC documentary states that the birth of the pop art was at the stage where he created a print of the Coke bottle.
He was inspired by Coca Cola as he said, it doesn’t matter who you were you could only get the same product, there wasn’t better or worse, it was just Coke.
He decided that stuff from commercials, can also become art.

Andy Warhol (1928–1987), Coca-Cola [2], 1961. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York. Courtesy of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Interestingly, this version of the coke bottle was hand painted. It was controversial because he painted a commercial everyday object in his art. This wasn’t done up to this point. The argument here is why would a depiction of a bowl of fruit could be considered art but the same of a bottle of Coca Cola isn’t. It’s fascinating to say the least.

Andy Warhol (1928–1987), Coca-Cola [3], 1962. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York. Courtesy of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

In 1962 he recreated the same image using a silkscreening technique, and thus the pop art was born.
This very simplistic image hold so much significance.
I wonder where was silver screening used before AW started using it?

Screen printing was first developed about 1900 and used in advertising. 

One of the newest types of art in the West, screen printing (screenprinting, silkscreen, or serigraphy – from sericum, Latin for silk) is a twentieth century intaglio printmaking technique derived from traditional stencilling, itself one of the earliest forms of graphic art duplication.

So why did Andy choose this medium for his art?

Andy Warhol famously told Art News interviewer Gene Swenson, “The reason I’m painting this way is that I want to be a machine, and I feel that whatever I do and do machine-like is what I want to do.” Warhol was referring to his newfound process of silk-screen printing images repeatedly onto a single canvas. This act of undermining any translation or evidence of the artist’s hand in favor of a mass-produced, machine-like look appealed to Warhol. Once he discovered the process and implications of working with silk screens, the content of Warhol’s output as a painter became inextricably linked to the process by which he created his art.

The Factory

The Factory seems to be synonymous with Andy Warhol. His studio was infamous for being a drug filled den where the stars hang out.

The Factory was Andy Warhol’s New York City studio, which had three different locations between 1962 and 1984. The original Factory was on the fifth floor at 231 East 47th Street, in Midtown Manhattan. The rent was one hundred dollars per year. Warhol left in 1967 when the building was scheduled to be torn down to make way for an apartment building. He then relocated his studio to the sixth floor of the Decker Building at 33 Union Square West near the corner of East 16th Street, where he was shot in 1968 by Valerie Solanas. The Factory was revamped and remained there until 1973. It moved to 860 Broadway at the north end of Union Square. Although this space was much larger, not much filmmaking took place there.

The original Factory was often referred to as the Silver Factory. In 1963, artist Ray Johnson took Warhol to a “haircutting party” at Billy Name’s apartment, decorated with tin foil and silver paint, and Warhol asked him to do the same scheme for his recently leased loft. Silver, fractured mirrors, and tin foil were the basic decorating materials loved by early amphetamine users of the sixties. Name covered the whole factory in silver, even the elevator. Warhol’s years at the Factory were known as the Silver Era. Aside from the prints and paintings, Warhol produced shoes, films, sculptures and commissioned work in various genres to brand and sell items with his name. His first commissions consisted of a single silkscreen portrait for $25,000, with additional canvases in other colors for $5,000 each. He later increased the price of alternative colors to $20,000 each. Warhol used a large portion of his income to finance the Factory.

This documentary explains the importance of The Factory era.
The “Silver” Factory was an underground hub for liberal artists of the 60’s, it was the place for self expression and experimentation.
The filmmaking era of Warhol has also started here.

He believed that we all have a natural obsession with watching people doing mundane things. This is represented in his 1963 moving picture, Sleep. In this film he captured a man sleeping for over 5 hours. The movie is 1 take altogether, no cutting, no editing. I think the rawness of it is what is so charming.

Sleep – Andy Warhol – 1963

15 Minutes of Fame

The expression “15 minutes of fame” is credited to artist Andy Warhol. In a program for a 1968 exhibition of his work at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden, he included the words, “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Photographer Nat Finkelstein also claims credit for the expression. In 1966, he was shooting Warhol for a proposed book. A crowd gathered trying to get pictures and Warhol remarked that everyone wants to be famous. Finkelstein replied, “Yeah, for about 15 minutes, Andy.” An even older concept dates back to Elizabethan England as the expression “nine days’ wonder.”

Warhol simply knew that anyone who is put in front of a camera will become famous, only if for 15 minutes. In a way Warhol has started reality TV, creating the cult of celebrity.
He created moving portraits called the “Screen Test”. These were short films of people sitting in front of the camera. I find it interesting the similarity between these and the current recordings for video blogs. I find this similarity very interesting as now we are all obsessed with sharing moving portraits of ourselves.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s