Happy 86th birthday Andy Warhol! We chart 7 of his most iconic moments…
This week would have marked the 86th birthday of the incredibly talented, explicitly controversial artist Andy Warhol. He dedicated a lifetime to his craft, with pieces that would later become standout symbols of iconography, most of which still remain at the pinnacle of the modern art world.
Having embedded himself in a highly affluent society, Warhol’s friends included Truman Capote and Elizabeth Taylor. He even had an elite clique named ‘Warhol Superstars’ which included the likes of Edie Sedgwick and other up-and-coming celebrities whose careers Warhol sought to boost. His art defined a generation and has gone on to make millions of pounds in the modern day, but despite his place at the top of the the art worlds elite hierarchy, he life was laden with drama and controversy from life-threatening shootings to explicit films.
Even after his death, iconic moments were still being created in his honour, the most significant of which was at his funeral, when news broke that his friend Paige Powell threw an issue of Interview Magazine and ‘Beautiful’, a perfume by Estée Lauder, into his grave before the casket was lowered – what a way to go.
Here, we chart Warhol’s most iconic moments and celebrate the life of one of the reigning king of Pop-art and the most diverse, multi-talented creative to have ever lived.
CAMPBELL’S SOUP CANS
Warhol’s Campbells Soup Cans were a collection of 32 canvases produced by Warhol depicting different varieties of the popular soup. The paintings were first presented by Irving Blum who eventually bought the whole set from Warhol, paying $100 over ten months. He eventually sold the whole collection to MoMA for $15million, making a staggering profit on the iconic pieces. The presentation of Campbell’s Soup Cans at Blum’s gallery caused controversy amongst other galleries some of whom, mocking the pieces, placed pyramids of soup cans in their window with the sign “get the real thing for only 29 cents a can” – how unnecessarily bitchy!
He gained worldwide attention and become front-page news when he was shot by radical feminist Valerie Solanas. Before the shooting she had been small figure in the Factory scene (a group of artists who worked in Warhol’s studio “The Factory”). Warhol was seriously wounded by the attack and his heart to be massaged in order to help regain it’s movement again as he was so close to death. The shooting had a serious effect on his life and work and changed his life entirely. From the shooting onwards he had to wear a surgical corset while Solanas was sent to prison for three years for the crime.
This was one of Warhols most influential works was created in the weeks following her death. The juxtaposition between the 25 left hand images and the 25 right hand images are said to be symbolic of the stars relation between life and death. The piece is currently owned by the Tate and was selected by the Guardian as being the 3rd most influential piece of modern art work in a survey conducted by 500 relevant figures in the art world.
MUSINGS ON MUSIC
Warhol pretty much launched the career of The Velvet Underground, paying for their studio time and designing the artwork for their first album. His detachment from the group came after his artistic relationship with lead-singer Lou Reed fell apart as they started to disagree on the direction the band should take. Depsite this, Warhol became a figurehead within the music industry by creating iconic album artwork for highly successful artists including The Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin. He was one of David Bowie’s main influences and Bowie wrote a song about him for his 1971 album ‘Hunky Dory’.
He was the founder of the fashion publication ‘Interview Magazine’, it’s original circulation was amongst the NY in-crowd however it today it circulates around a mainstream audience. As he grew older, he withdrew more and more from the magazine and a more consumerist version of the publication was produced with the help of Bob Colacello who became a profiler for Vanity Fair, eventually writing work on Prince Charles, Naomi Campbell, Estee Lauder and Liza Minnelli. A copy of the magazine was thrown into Warhol’s grave before his casket was lowered into the plot.
FILMS OF FELLATIO
Controversially, he created a number of films, one of which was called ‘Blow Job’ a 35 minute silent film of the uncredited DeVeren Bookwalter receiving fellatio from an unseen partner, the film consisted entirely of shots of Bookwalters face and was naturally steeped in controversy. Aside from ‘Blow Job’, a number of his films explored gay themes and gay underground culture, including Bike Boy and Lonesome Cowboys. The films are now used as references in studies about sexuality and art.
FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME
Warhol was credited as being the person that coined the phrase ’15 minutes of fame’ when he included the words “In the future, everyone will be world famous for fifteen minutes”. He then went on to host a TV talk show called “Andy Warhols Fifteen Minutes” in which he featured guests including Courtney Love, Debbie Harry and Grace Jones. The phrase has more recently been referenced in work by anonymous street-artist Banksy.
Words: Ryan Cahill