“…potent visual inspiration, grandly realized…[Stands] up to the strongest art made by anyone else, anywhere, at any time. See it.”

Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker

Andy Warhol. Self-Portrait Wallpaper. 1978. Collection of the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh.

“If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface: of my paintings and films and me, and there I am.”

Andy Warhol

©2010 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


An Artist Who Shaped Our World

Andy Warhol (1928–1987) was born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and majored in pictorial design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). After graduation, he moved to New York, and found success as a commercial artist throughout the 1950s. His illustrations appeared in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, The New Yorker, and other magazines, and he created advertising and window displays for Bonwit Teller, I. Miller, and other retail stores. During this time he shortened his name to Warhol, and, in 1952, had his first individual show, at the Hugo Gallery, Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote. His first group show was at The Museum of Modern Art in 1956.

The work for which he’s best known was made during the early 1960s, in which he appropriated images from Pop culture, creating paintings that remain icons of 20th-century art, such as the Campbell's Soup Cans, Disasters, and Marilyns. Warhol’s 16mm films from this period have become underground classics: Chelsea Girls, Empire, and Sleep. In 1968, Valerie Solanas, founder and sole member of S.C.U.M. (Society for Cutting Up Men) walked into Warhol's studio, known as the Factory, and shot the artist. The attack was nearly fatal.

At the start of the 1970s, Warhol began publishing Interview magazine and renewed his focus on painting. Works created in this decade include Skulls, Shadows, and many commissioned portraits. Warhol also published The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (from A to B and Back Again). Firmly established as a major 20th-century artist and international celebrity, Warhol exhibited his work extensively in museums and galleries around the world. The BMA presented an exhibtion of his early paintings in 1975.

The artist began the 1980s with the publication of POPism: The Warhol Sixties. He also created two cable television shows, Andy Warhol's T.V. in 1982 and Andy Warhol's Fifteen Minutes for MTV in 1986. His paintings from the 1980s include The Last Suppers, Rorschachs and, in a return to his first great theme of Pop, a series called Black & White Ads. Warhol also engaged in a series of collaborations with younger artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat and Francesco Clemente.

Following routine gall bladder surgery, Andy Warhol died February 22, 1987. After his burial in Pittsburgh, his friends and associates organized a memorial mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York that was attended by more than 2,000 people. He remains one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

To learn more about Andy Warhol:

The Andy Warhol Museum

The Andy Warhol Family Album

The Last Decade Timeline