Andy Warhol

“I just paint things I always thought were beautiful, things you use every
day and never think about… I just do it because I like it. (Beckris 110) I
just do it because I like it is Andys philosophy on life. Andy might just be
the most interesting and and at the same time the most confusing individual you
will ever read about. Andys work is like none others. His art brought common
day people together and showed the impact of contemporary society and the idea
of mass media on values. Andys father Ondrej Wharhola is best described as a
bald, burly man with a bulging belly and massive upper arms, pudgy nose and
bristling sideburns. Ondrej was born in 1889 in Minkova. (Bekris, 6) He was
married and living with Julia Warhola, mother of Andy, for three years in Mikova.

In order to avoid being drafted into the Balkan conflict in 1912 he immigrated
to Pittsburgh without her at the age of seventeen to work in a coal field in the
industrial district of Philadelphia. (Bekris, 7) Julia Warhola was born in a
small village in the Capathian mountains outside of Czechoslovakia. Julia was
the oldest and prettiest of her fifteen other siblings. She was also said to be
the artistic one of the bunch. (Bekris, 7) In 1914 Julia gave birth to a baby
girl. Because of the conditions due to the war the infant contracted influenza
six months later and died. Julias mother was so depressed about the news of
the infants death that she died one month later. (Bekris, 8-9) Julia was now
reliable for her only two surviving sisters of ages six and nine. For the next
four years Julia fled from the soldiers, hiding in woods and barns. She was
supposed to be receiving money from Ondrej but because she was always on the run
she never saw the money. From 1918-1921 she raised 160 dollars to go to the
united states to find Ondrej. (Bekris, 9) Andy Warhol was born on September 28,
1930 in Forest City, Pennsylvania. Or so we think. This is what the original
birth certificate read but Andy wanted people to believe he was born in Mc
Keesport, or even Hawaii. He also stays true to believe the certificate is a
forgery. Most books and other reportable sources confirm that he was indeed born
in 1930 but the dates do range from 1925-1931 (Bekris, 10). Andy was raised in a
coal mining town in Philadelphia. It was a dark musty town were the sky stayed
black. The town was overrun with poverty and crime. (Bekris, 10) Being raised in
an environment as such would greatly affect a persons personality in their
later years. This might explain Andys later fascination with death related
topics. In 1930 Andys father got a steady job laying roads and moving houses.

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This was a high paying job at the time because of the mass rate of growth in the
cities. Ondrej saved his money and one-year later moved his family into a larger
house on Beelan Street. Shortly after moving into the house Ondrej lost his job
and was forced to move into a two-bedroom apartment. The rent was six dollars a
week and Andys father had to work odd jobs to just barley pay the rent. It
was not just Andy and his parents. Andy had two other brothers, one older and
one younger. All three of the children were said to be afraid of their father.

“Dad didnt like us to start commotion because he was so exhausted and he
would get emotionally upset. Usually all he had to do was look at you.” (Beckris
12) Andy always had a problem with grammar school. He was not a social child and
preferred to keep to himself. As most children do, they saw this in Andy and
picked on him frequently. (Bekris, 18) Andys brother Paul stated, “At
age four Andy cried a lot at school and one day a little black girl slapped
him” (Beckris 15) He was very traumatized by this incident and asked his
mother if she could keep him home from school. As the loving mother she was, she
took Andy out of school and kept him home for two years. Over this time he
became very close to his mother. When it was time for him to return to school he
threw a temper tantrum. It took his mother, brother and neighbor to drag Andy
back to school. Because of this incident he developed a nervous tick. (Rateliff,
11) Fortunately, Ondrej got his old job back and earned enough money to move
back into a larger house in Oak Land. This town was much more suitable for
raising a child and had better school systems. In this town Andy made new
friends, which were particularly girls. This would later explain Andys
homosexual tendencies. Margie Girman was one of his closest friends. She was
said to be bright and stimulating which would encourage Andy to do better in
school. Andy began to have a fascination with the cinema. Every weekend he and
Margie would go to the movies. At the end of every show the ushers would hand
out autographed photos of the actors and actresses. Andy would end up using
these same images in his prints. Andy started to distance himself from boys and
became closer to girls and his new found talent of drawing. Andys brother
John said, ” When Andy was out in the field by the time you hit the ball he
wasnt there.” (Bekris, 16-17) He would go back to the house and draw in
his notebook. Andy soon got the reputation as a “mamas boy”. If he was
not with his girlfriends or sketching in his notebook, he was out with his
mother helping her pick out hats and skirts. At age six Andy had entered the
second grade. His teacher Catharine Meta said that Andy would walk through the
halls with his head down wishing he was invisible. This made him a prime suspect
for abuse by his fellow classmates. From early on in Andys life he had been a
sickly child. Because Andy was known to be a mamma’s boy and a crybaby his
parents paid little to no attention to him when he whined about being hurt or
sick. At age two Andys eyes swelled shut due to an infection and his mother
had to use daily doses of boric acid to get rid of the mucus. At age four he was
playing on the train tracks and broke his arm. The wound went unnoticed for
several weeks until someone saw an unnatural bend to his arm. The bone had to be
re-broken and set. At age six Andy contracted scarlet fever, which would later
effect his overall development. His illness went unnoticed until Andy began not
being able to control his limbs or speech. He had trouble holding his own arm
and completing a sentence. This part of Andys life greatly contributed to his
mistrust in people and his art. (Bekris, 19) Andys art talent in high school
was amazing. He drew everything he laid his eyes on. Even though he had such a
great talent he was still singled out. Lee Karageores says “But sorely he
was sort of left out. He wasnt even in the art club because his talent was so
superior.” Andy attended Scheley High School. During his senior year he
applied to both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Institute of
Technology. Andy was accepted to both but chose to attend Carnegie Tech.

Carnegie Tec’s academic standards were high and the courses extremely
competitive. (Rateliff, 12) This was because his graduating class consisted of
about only one hundred students. The school motto best describes its standards
“Laborare est Orare” to labor is to pray is what it means in Latin.

Andys freshman courses consisted of drawing, pictorial and decorative design,
color, hygiene, and thought and expression. Andy had a great struggle with all
of his courses but thought and expression was his worst. This was probably so
because of Andys phobia of expressing himself orally. Andy was a man of few
words; also another reason was because he had such poor grammar. Fortunately,
Andy made two friends in this class who tried to get Andy a passing grade. Even
with their combined effort he failed out of the course. At the time Andy was
attending school, there was an economic depression, and the war was ending. (Bekris,
37) Because of the war veterans that were returning, jobs became scarce and
Carnegie Tech was forced to drop students in order to make room. Andy was one of
them. Because Andy showed such passion to his work his teachers fought to have
Andy attend summer school and go for re-admissions the following year. (Feldman,
9) While Andy was attending summer school he got a job delivering fruit with his
brother. As he worked he carried a sketchbook drawing whatever appealed to him.

An eyewitness recalled “He drew what he saw, you could see the nude bodies
of the women through their battered clothes, babies hanging on mothers necks. He
really got the essence of this depressing side of life.” When Andy returned
for readmitions he presented the sketchbook. They allowed Andy back in. Along
with being able to come back to Carnegie Tech, his sketches were put on display
and Andy received forty dollars. This was the first time Andy had ever received
money for his work. At the time of Andys graduation he was skeptical about
leaving his mother. He was debating whether to pursue his talent or become a
schoolteacher and live with his mother. Fortunate for us he became an artist and
created some of the worlds most interesting paintings. Andy decided he wanted
to move to New York City. His mother was very disappointed. She told Andy that
he would end up in a gutter, penniless. A good friend of Andys, Philip
Pearlstine convinced Andy to move to Manhattan with him. (Bekris, 50) He did and
ended up spending eight years there. In June 1949, Andy and Pearlstine moved
into a small apartment on Saint Marks Street. (Bekris, 51) Later on Andy would
move out of this apartment and get his own studio in an abandoned
hook-and-ladder firehouse only a few blocks away from Pearlstiens. The only
minor set back was that the floor was littered with hole and the ceiling leaked,
sometimes destroying entire paintings. Over the next few years Andy would move
around from rat hole to rat hole. Over this time Andys mother came to live
with him and he also began to get noticed. Between moves Andy held many
different jobs. In 1951 Andy got a job as a major assistant to illustrate a
Complete Book of Etiquette by Amy Vanderbits. (Bekris, 53) For the next two to
three years Andy did illustration work for magazines and store windows. He
devoted all his time to work and was making a decent amount of money. He also
got the reputation as a workaholic. Pearlstine said that Andy was “a
workaholic who sat at a table and worked all day and often late at night. He
would do several versions of each assignment, showing all… art dealers loved
him for that.” (Bekris, 53) These were the golden years for art designers
and magazine publishers, which attracted some of the most desirable graphic
designers. In 1963 Andy moved into a flat at 231 East 47th street. (Bekris, 141)
This location would later be known as the “Factory”. Andy did most of
his recognized art here. He was said to be like a machine. A quote from the
artist. “The reason Im painting this very way is because I want to be a
machine.” (Cameo, 8) The Factory had a large freight elevator that took you
to the loft. The doors opened up to a 140-sq./ft room with a couple of toilets
in the back and a payphone buy the door. The Factory soon became the “in
crowd hang out”. Its tripy lighting and tin foil walls attracted every type
of person. The Factory was now a cultural Mecca, part film studio, and part
Salvation Army for the struggling artists. The majority of the crowd was called
the “amphetamine rapture group” but better known as the “mole
people” because they lived in the underworld of the city and only came out
at night. (Cameo, 8) Andy continued to make money and turning out electric chair
prints as part of the death-and-disaster series. As you the viewer can tell from
a variety of Andys paintings, he had an erotic side to him. Andy has never
come entirely out with the truth but some interesting facts have been found.

Andy first discovered he had a homosexual taste when he was a student at
Carnegie Tech. Andy also had an off and on relationship with a friend whom he
met in the autumn of 1945. (Shanes, 11) Most of Andys Advertisements and
window displays incorporated shoes. The majority of the time he was asked to
redo them because they came across as being too sexual. He was also known to
have a slight foot fetish. Boyfriends of Andy have admitted that Andy enjoyed
licking their shoes while making love. He also published a quite graphic series
called “Drawings for a boy book” (Shanes, 11) Although Andy never
“came out” he was known to be a part of the “lavender”
social world, which was an underground social world with gays and transvestites.

Andy wanted to bring avant grade artists and the public together. The common
people are the ones intended for Andys art. In 1958 Andy made the transition
to this idea from commercial artist to “Fine Artist”. (Shanes, 15)
This was after a similar artists movement of John Rauschenburg. After his
work with I Miller Shoes in the 1960s, which was a large shoe manufacturer,
his subjects started to move to common day objects. In 1961 Andy started to play
with the idea of mass production. (Cameo, 8) He chose common day items such as
Campbell soup cans, money, Coca-Cola, and newspaper headlines. He also did work
on famous people such as Marilyn Manroe and Jackie Onasis. In starting pop art
Andy called upon everything he had learned from advertising. Also from TV where
the dollar sign and the gun were predominate symbols, where the subliminal
message was sexual desire without gratification, and were the immediate aim was
to shock. Andy chose to paint a series of big black-and-white pictures of what
artists were supposed to hate most. The look from the backs of cheep magazines.

The simplest crummiest ads for jobs, TV, wigs, and canned food, Andy made into
art. Andys transition is only best explained visually. In his early works
with portraits such as “Ladies and Gentleman” 1917 (1) and
“Truman Capote”1979 (2) they show how Andy uses vibrant colors to
emphasize specific features. In his “Untitled” (Hernia) 1960-62 (3)
painting it shows his work with common day ads and simplicity. This print almost
looks like it came from a textbook. “Front and Back of Dollar bills”
(4) experiments with the use of silk screen and mass production. This painting
is quite striking because when you think about it money might just be the most
mass-produced object in the world. Andy also had a tendency to paint unordinary
things like his “cow” (5) painting. He stayed within his style of
color but the cow is neither a famous portrait nor a mass-produced object. After
the tragic suicide of Marilyn Monroe in 1962 Andy became somewhat obsessed with
her beauty. (Bekris, 113) He would use pictures of her lips and produce them
hundreds of times using bright sexy colors. He always focused on her most sexual
features such as he hair, eyes, and lips. “Marilyn Monroe Lips” 1962
(6) and “Marilyn”. Andy had another artistic style to him, it was one
that came from his childhood. Being raised in poverty and being exposed to such
horrific sights contributed to his next “Movement” of work. Andy was
curious in the acts of God whether it is from Mother Nature to killings or
atomic bombs. Andy would make reproductions of all these incidents. It wasnt
until Henry Geldchler shoed Andy a more productive direction. In June of 1962
Geldchler suggested that Andy start looking at the “dark side of American
culture” in a more artistic way. (Bekris 126) Andy new he had to come up
with a new idea that would shock his audience as much as the soup cans and
dollar bills had. Andy began doing paintings such as “car crash” 1963
(7) and “electric chair” (8). These images were extremely powerful.

You were not just looking at an image in the newsprint you were looking at an
image that was twice as large as you were and repeated ten times. Also he always
chose a color to tint these images in. The color gives a mysterious side to it,
which makes you want to know the rest of the story. The
“Death-and-disaster” series became recognized as some of his best
works, but at the same time many of his supporters found the images
unacceptable. None of his supporters wanted to hang a picture of a man mangled
in his car over their fireplace. The prints did do extremely well but only over
seas in Europe and Germany. Some other famous prints are, “Sixteen
Jacques” 1964 “Lavender Disaster” 1963(9) and
“Sucide”1963 (10). “Oxidation Painting” 1978 (11) is in the
death-and-disaster series but has a different twist to it. It is two large
sheets of copper that had been treated with patina. While wet they were urinated
on showing the given effect. Along with his artistic style his physical
appearance began to change. He began wearing a silver blond wig that fit on his
head haphazardly. (Bekris, 99) He even went as far as to change his speech and
mannerisms. For the next several years Andy continued with his death and
disaster series. He was now a world-renowned artist and had private shows
throughout the world. In 1986, Andy flew to Milan for the opening of his last
show. During the last two days in Milan Andy did not leave the hotel. “He
was in much pain” recalled Daniel Morear. “He was in bed” which
was quite unusual for Andy to be in bed let alone for two days. At the end of
1986 his gallstones had become so enlarged that they had become life
threatening. Andy refused to go to a hospital because of his great fear of them.

In the first week of February his illness stopped him dead in his tracks. For
the first time in his life Andy abandoned his friends in the middle of a night
out on the town to go home and spend the evening in his bed. A sonogram taken by
Dr. Cox showed the gallbladder to be severely infected, inflamed, and filled
with fluid. The next day Andy was scheduled to be admitted into New York
Hospital. The operation was supposed to take place on Saturday and have Andy
home by late Sunday. Saturday morning Andy locked all his valuables in his safe
and headed to the hospital. He had also made it very clear that no one, not even
his mother should know he was going to the hospital. When he was admitted they
put him under the name of Bob Roberts. A report from the New York Times Magazine
by M.A Farba and Lawrence Altman stated: After fifteen hours of preparation,
Warhols surgery was preformed between 8:45 am and 12:10 p.m. on Saturday
February 21, 1987. There were no complications at the time – and none were found
during the autopsy or by any of the doctors who had received the case. Warhol
spent three hours in recovery after the surgery, and at 3:45pm was taken to his
private room on the twelfth floor of Baker Pavilion. For comfort precaution and
on the recommendation of Dr. Cox, his regular physician, Warhol was placed in
the hands of a private duty nurse, rather than the normal complement of staff
nurses. He was examined during the afternoon and early evening by the senior
attending physicians, who noted nothing unusual. Alert and seemingly in good
spirits, Warhol watched television and around 9:30 p.m. spoke to the house
keeper at his east side home, a few blocks away. Min Chou was the private nurse
attending to Andy. It was not known whether she kept her post but it was clear
that she did not record his vital signs and neglected to give him medicine. At
10pm and at 4am on Sunday February 22, Min Chou, the private nurse who had been
selected by the hospital from a registry, took Andys blood pressure and found
it stable. She gave a progress report to the chief surgical resident by
telephone at 11pm; presumably while the patient slept. At 5:45am Ms. Chou
noticed that Warhol had turned blue and his pulse had weakened. Unable to waken
him she summoned the floor nurse who in the words of a colleague, “almost
had a stroke” A cardiac arrest team began resuscitation efforts but
according to hospital sources, had difficulty putting a tube in Warhols
windpipe because rigor mortis had started to set in. At 6:31am the artist was
pronounced dead. The art world suffered a great lose with the death of Andy
Warhol. His personal style will always move forward touching and changing
peoples lives every day. Andy was a one of a kind and will never be
recreated. To understand his art is a feeling many people over look. It is an
every day reminder that we dont take the time to look at what goes on around
us. Now when I walk I wont just look down but all around me. At the trees,
clouds, bricks under my feet, and the entire world moving around me.