Who was Andy Warhol?
Andy Warhol was a multi-media artist who coined the phrase "fifteen minutes of fame" and was prominent in the highly influential Pop Art Movement in the 1960s. Andy's work was a rich collection of various styles, mediums, and subject matter revolving around celebrity and commercial advertising. Warhol's patrons and subjects included many well-known people of the day, helping create a world phenomenon that would make his work highly sought after and very collectable.
Life of Andy Warhol
Born in 1928 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Andy Warhol received his training at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, and in 1949 was awarded a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. In the 1950s he worked as a commercial artist producing a host of advertisements, fliers and posters.
While Warhol didn't invent the technique of screen printing, he most certainly was its most famous proponent. His first attempts at reproduction were simply wet images sandwiched between blank sheets to give them his stylistic hand printed look. He would later turn to screen printing to lend more control and allow greater reproduction of his artworks.
By the late '50s he was holding exhibitions of his work in California, which were followed a couple years later by shows in New York. It was at these East coast exhibitions that he first displayed his iconic cans of soup, Marilyn Monroe, and dollar bill screen prints.
"The Factory", Warhol's avant-garde studio, opened in New York and soon became a favorite haunt of bohemians, beatniks, socialites, and musicians. Over the years there were three locations for "The Factory" around New York, and in that studio Andy and his assistants knocked out screen prints and lithographs in a production line fashion.
It was also a creative environment where art films, music, sculpture, and at the time notorious and decadent parties were held in a carefree atmosphere. Over the years the famous people who frequented "The Factory" includedDavid Bowie, Jim Morrison, Grace Jones, William Burroughs, and Mary Woronov.
The 1970s were a quieter period, dedicated to creating portraits of the famous and promoting his works. He set up Interview magazine, wrote a book, and in 1979 established the New York Academy of Art. The 1980s saw his popularity rise again, but he still faced much criticism from the art world for his business-like approach and adoration of consumerism. Warhol tragically died in 1987 due to complications after a routine operation.
Warhol's enthusiastic embrace of the commercial world is still as relevant and appreciated today. The eBay site has a constant stream of signed works, professional reprints, and ingenious memorabilia dedicated to the man and his work.
Andy Warhol's Works
Inspirations and Origins of Warhol's Art
Andy Warhol's work covered a range of different topics, and many people are instantly attracted to the bright, vivid colors he used when making his images. As a child Warhol was very ill and spent many months bedridden, and during these periods of convalescence he would draw and collect magazine images of the famous celebrities of the day. These collected pictures were later to form the basis of some of his most loved works.
Warhol was an avid collector, and after his death the executors of his estate discovered over 600 boxes of what was known as "Andy's Stuff." These were full of the detritus of everyday living that he would hoard and each month send off to his apartment. When examined it was found that they contained such diverse objects as plane tickets, menus, shopping lists, and newspapers, giving people a brief insight into his routines and habits that influenced his art.
Much of the fame attached to his pictures rests around his use of multiple imagery and screen prints of famous people and everyday items, such as soup cans, cola bottles and dollar bills. He also entered into film making, drawing, painting, collage, and photography. Warhol was also one of the first artists to use computer imagery to design digital art, and as far back as 1984 he was producing computer generated art from his Amega system. His portrait of pop star Debbie Harry was one of the first Warholian pictures he produced.
Since he first came to prominence, Warhol's art stood out and made him a very collectable artist. The very nature of his work, emulating and exalting popular culture, Hollywood stars, and common consumables, have meant his work still retains a large and interested following even 25 years after his death.
Along with reproductions of Warhol's best loved posters, these instantly recognizable images of common objects and uncommon celebrity have been duplicated on thousands of household items, giving such objects as coffee cups, plates, salt shakers, comforters, and clothes the Andy Warhol treatment.
Andy Warhol Silk Screen Prints
Among the most iconic of Andy Warhol's works are his collections of screen printed celebrities. Over his life he produced images of the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Liza Minnelli, Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross, John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali, Marlon Brando, and Mao Tse Tung. Many of these famous paintings are available as reproduction posters and pop art memorabilia that use Warhol's imagery.
The Marilyn Monroe prints are probably the most well-known. There were 10 made in the series with a print run of 250 copies of each. Although the original prints go for anything from 100,000 dollars and upwards, there are many high quality reproductions of the work available through eBay for considerably less.
The bright and cheery nature of his work lends itself to any room in the house, whether it is his banana or soup cans in the kitchen, or copies of Mohammed Ali or Marilyn in the hall. The prints come in such a variety of shades and colors that you are certain to find one to match your particular paint scheme.
Andy Warhol Album Covers
Warhol was a commercial artist by training, and in the 1950s he produced many advertisements for easy listening and classical albums collections. He later went on to design album sleeves for a number of famous bands of the 1960s and 1970s using his recognizable printing techniques. These screen prints and photomontages were to form the designs on a number of album covers, which these days are a relatively affordable way of acquiring a genuine Warhol picture.
Some of the most remembered album covers include the "Banana" print on the 1967 record by the Velvet Underground and Nico, Mick Jagger on the 1977 album, "Love You Live," the Rolling Stones memorable "Sticky `Fingers" cover, and John Lennon's 1986 album "Menlove Ave." There is also a collection of rare and obscure albums featuring classical music, jazz, and swing tunes that have Warhol-designed covers.
The earlier prints featured hand drawn ink outlines that were colored in by hand. This technique regularly contains imperfections, blots and smudges that he would later reproduce in his screen printed posters. Instead of hand drawing these pictures, he often resorted to using photographs or found images on which he would then color and draw designs.
The pictures are comprised of monochrome photographs that have been enhanced with blocks of bright color and the occasional added words, commentary, or notes. They combine the perfection of the photograph alongside the simplicity and energy of the hand drawn image. His work is instantly identifiable, but care should be taken as his style is regularly copied.
How Collectable Are Andy Warhol's Works?
The very nature of Andy's work means it is very easy to reproduce and make available to everyone. The popular images from his extensive catalogue regularly appear for sale, and there are even many contemporary posters that emulate his work, giving modern products that were not available during his time a Warhol twist.
Because his original limited-edition prints sell for millions, reproductions of his work always sell well too. Modern scanners and high quality printers are able to produce creditable copies of the original work. While they are highly enjoyable to look at and display, mass-produced copies are not collectible due to their high quantity.
Prints on eBay can range in price from a few dollars up into the thousands, depending on the quality and rarity of the image. Some of the more desirable pieces for collectors are the unusual adverts he first created. These can be found in 50s magazines, posters and from window displays of the era.
Guide to Spotting Warhol's Works
One can appreciate Warhol's art by noting his use of bright, bold primary colors in his work. These are overlaid photographic images associated with American consumerism from the 1960s or portraying famous stars from the era.
The particular format used by Warhol relies on creating repeated imagery and changing the colors or printing drawings on top of each image. These vary between groups of four to a hundred repeated image prints. The prints are never crisp, sharp images and are always slightly out of register or misaligned, so keep in mind that this is normal.