"My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person.”
I think that I don’t have to introduce Andy Warhol to anyone. He was definitely mysterious, original, and eccentric person. Well known as founder and "Pope of Pop", but also a successful businessman, visionary who created the brand even out of his personal life, icon who inspired and still inspires…
I could write a lot about his life and work, but I would like to focus on specific part of his career…portraits of famous people. It is very interesting why they became one of his biggest interests? Where they only commercial product for Warhol? Where they only a plain art work without a meaning? Or there was a meaning and philosophy behind the scene?
It all started when Andy was 8 years old, he was seriously ill and he had to spend 6 weeks in bed. His mother was looking after him and she was the one who gave him very first magazine about Hollywood and movie stars. This is where his fascination began. Then he started to write letters to different actresses, his first choice was Shirley Temple, she even replied to him and enclosed the picture. All his life he was very proud of this situation and he kept this picture until his death in 1987. When he recovered from his illness, he knew that he wants to become an artist.
Many years later after when Andy was already well known in New York from his work in advertisement he decided to start working on his old passion- painting. He was constantly asking his friends about theme of his painting, he didn’t really had vision at the beginning. Everything has changed when his friend and art gallery owner Mariel Latow asked: "Well, what do you love most?" and Andy replied- "money". She encouraged him to paint what he loved the most- money, Campbell soup’s cans, Coca-cola’s cans and celebrities. He was fascinated by money, success, beauty, originality and all this actually brought him fame and money, what he desired. In 1962 he opened the 'Factory', his studio where he wanted to “produce” art in big amounts. This unique place was always full of artists, Warhol’s assistants, actors and friends. He was also famous for parties where his influence friends were very often guests. Warhol participated in NY social life and attended famous Studio 54 where he celebrated with other artists and celebrities.
Portrait of Marilyn Monroe was one of first from the series of celebrities. He created it shortly after her death in 1962. It shows 50 images based on the same photograph from the movie "Niagara", 1953. Left side of silkscreen printing diptych contains pictures in bright colors while right side is black and white. The distension in creation on the canvas suggests the relation between life and death. He introduced her to the world as a pop-culture icon not a real person. This iconographic portrait is also a symbol of beauty, fame and youth it was suppose to be plain and enjoyable. Later in 1967 he produced 10 more silkscreen prints based on the same photography. Almost every person in the world knows this representation of Marilyn and it’s still being copy and distributed all over the world as a nice accent in interior design. Andy has definitely achieved what was the most important for him, fame and even more than "15 second" of it, as he said.
His fascination of cult of famous people and death reaches his early life, albums with Hollywood’s star, death of his father and his illness definitely had big impact on his creation. In my opinion all his work is full of emotion and meaning, even if it’s not that obvious."
No title, 1967
Marilyn Diptych, 1962
Other celebrities’ portrayed by Andy Warhol:
Andy Warhol’s Liz No.5 (Early Colored Liz), 1963
‘It would be very glamorous to be reincarnated as a great big ring on Liz Taylor’s finger.’
Elvis I and II, 1964
‘I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They’re beautiful. Everybody’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.’