Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in 1928 to Slovak immigrants in a working-class suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He entered the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1945, where he majored in pictorial design. Upon graduation, Warhol moved to New York with fellow student Philip Pearlstein. He worked as a commercial artist illustrating for several magazines including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and The New Yorker. He did advertising and window displays for retail stores such as Bonwit Teller and I. Miller. Prophetically, his first assignment was for Glamour Magazine for an article entitled ‘Success is a Job in New York.’ In 1952, he had his first solo exhibition at the Hugo Gallery, exhibiting ‘Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote’. Warhol’s work was exhibited in several venues throughout the fifties including his first group show at The Museum of Modern Art in 1955. In 1953, he produced his first illustrated book, A is an Alphabet and Love is a Pink Cake. He formed Andy Warhol Enterprises in 1957.
In 1961, Warhol showed his paintings, ‘Advertisement’, ‘Little King’, ‘Superman’, ‘Before and After’, ‘Superman, Before and After’, and ‘Saturday’s Popeye’ in a window display of Bonwit Teller department store. Appropriating images from popular culture, Warhol created many paintings that remain icons of 20th-century art including the Campbell’s Soup Can, Marilyn and Elvis series. In 1962, the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles exhibited his Campbell’s Soup Cans while the Stable Gallery in New York showed the Baseball, Coca-Cola, Do It Yourself and Dance Diagram paintings among others. In 1963 Warhol established a studio at 231 East 47th Street which became known as the ‘Factory.’ In the 1970s, Warhol renewed his focus on painting and worked extensively on a private commission basis both for corporations and individuals, alike. The artist began the 1980s with the publication of POPism: The Warhol ‘60s. He also began work on Andy Warhol’s TV, a series of half hour of video programs patterned after Interview Magazine.
Following routine gall bladder surgery, Andy Warhol died of complications during his recovery on February 2, 1987. After his burial in Pittsburgh, his friends and associates organized a memorial mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on April 1 that was attended by more than 2,000 people.
In 1989, the Museum of Modern Art in New York had a major retrospective of his works. In 2001 Heiner Bastian curated a Warhol retrospective that began in Berlin and traveled to the Tate in London and finally to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.