Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol!

Andy Warhol's 100 Cans in the exhibition Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels, Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Photo by the author.

Andy Warhol’s 100 Cans in the exhibition Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels, Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Photo by the author.

Today we celebrate the birthday of famous American pop artist Andy Warhol. The Milwaukee Art Museum’s permanent collection boasts a number of works by Warhol, but one of his most iconic pieces is featured in the Museum’s current temporary exhibition, Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels. The piece, titled 100 Cans, was completed in 1962.

Warhol, known for his representations of popular culture and everyday objects, along with his own interesting personality, is an artist to be remembered. Born on August 6, 1928, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Andrew Warhola (Andy’s birth name) was the youngest of his siblings. Early on in Warhol’s life, he was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder. As he grew older, he often used comic books and popular magazines as a refuge from his real life. In 1949, he graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh with a degree in pictorial design. He dropped the “a” from his last name in an effort to build a new persona and began working as a commercial artist in New York.

Soon after beginning this career, Warhol was working for top companies and brands, such as Vogue, Glamour magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and Tiffany & Co. He began painting and drawing in the 1950s and was already being exhibited in New York’s illustrious Museum of Modern Art in 1956. The 1960s brought Warhol into the realm of film; throughout his life he would create 600 films and almost 2,500 shorter videos. More of Warhol’s achievements include cofounding Interview magazine, guest starring on TV shows, and hosting his own TV series on MTV. His accomplishments are remarkable.

As a person and an artist, Warhol can be difficult to write about. Adjectives such as eccentric or creative come close to describing him, but do not quite meet the mark. Perhaps the best word to describe Andy Warhol is elusive; he is indescribable, uniquely himself. It is for this reason that we honor the birthday of Andy Warhol with a few short videos. To see Warhol speak and interact is to better understand him, and in turn, better understand his magnificent works of art.

1. 1966 Interview with Andy Warhol: “I hate to go to museums and see pictures of the world because they look so important and they don’t really mean anything.”

 

2. 1971 Interview: “The way things happen in New York now, it’s like being in a Western movie.”

 

3. 1980 Interview: “I think everything should be recycled, like leftover food at restaurants.”


4. 1981 Jorgen Leth film clip: Andy Warhol eating a hamburger.

 

5. Andy Warhol visits London: On what gave him the inspiration for soup cans—“Oh, I just eat it every day . . . I still do.”

 

Erin Green, Communications Intern

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