Andy Warhol: A Biography
Andy Warhol was born in 1928 in the industrial city of Pittsburgh. His parents had emigrated
from the Carpathian Mountain Region of what is now the Slovak Republic. Warhol attended the
Pittsburgh public schools and participated in Saturday morning art classes at Carnegie Institute.
His mother encouraged her son’s childhood artistic inclinations. At the age of 17 he was
accepted at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). He enrolled in
the Department of Painting and Design, where he was introduced to skills he would use
throughout his working life.
After graduating from Carnegie Tech in 1949, Warhol moved to New York City and established a
career as an illustrator. His drawings were reproduced in fashionable magazines and newspapers.
His business expanded quickly, and he recruited assistants, including his mother, who had moved
to New York City to live with him. Even though he won design awards and financial reward in
the commercial art world, he wanted to be recognized as a fine artist. In the 1950s, fine art such
as painting was appreciated for its expressive or inspirational powers, whereas commercial art
was valued for its ability to sell products.
Pop Art and the 1960s
In the 1960s, Warhol became known as a Pop Artist. Pop Artists painted people, places and
things that Americans saw every day – things that were popular, such as movie stars, food and
pictures from the newspaper. Warhol began making fine art directly based on products and
advertisements in the late 1950s. He often created multiple paintings or sculptures of the same
object. In 1962, he began using a silkscreen process that allowed him to repeat images easily,
often on a single canvas.
Warhol’s studio, which he called the “Factory,” became a hangout for poets, musicians, actors
and interesting characters. Instead of being distracted by the activity around him, Warhol used the
excitement and stream of people to make art and films. He