his wigs, Campbells Soup cans, urine paintings,
and constant entourage of beautiful people,
Andy maintained a semblance of a rich inner
life. If you want to stay thin, he advised,
always order the food on the menu you don't
want to eat.
Warhol was the leader of the pack
in Pop-land. Born and raised in Pennsylvania,
he got his start in the art world doing drawings
for "Glamour Magazine" and went on to become
a fabulously successful New York illustrator.
He dyed his hair silver in the early '50s
and this is an important fact because for Warhol
image was irremovable from art. As critic Matthew
Collins puts it: "With him it was massive staging,
with all pretence of not staging absolutely
stripped away. It was pure staging. Like pure
His first paintings in 1960 were
based on comic strips like Dick Tracy and Superman.
Eventually he mass-produced his silkscreens,
paintings, and films in a New York studio appropriately
named "The Factory". His work focused
on mass-culture objects (including celebrities)
and can be interpreted as deadpan commentary
on the nature of a media-saturated consumer
society in which status, celebrity, and branding
are driving forces.
In fact, Warhol adored celebrities
and hobnobbed with a multitude of them; he even
launched some careers himself, as in the case
of the band, The Velvet Underground, whom he
produced. Between 1968 and 1972 Warhol pumped
out a series of feature movies at the
rate of one a day with director Paul
Morrissey. These raised the concept of campy
trash art to a new level and had titles like
"Flesh", "Trash", and "Blowjob".
His filmmaking style climaxed in the 1963 piece
called "Sleep", a six-hour study of
a slumbering man. The viewer, of course, is
liable to become one with the subject matter.
Warhol is one of the few artists
to raise himself to the level of a cultural
icon and he would have had it no other