A well-known artist cum photographer, Andy Warhol was the leading personality in the visual art movement, known as Pop Art. He lived from 1928 until 1987, and during this time produced renowned work that acts as an influence for artists till today.
Warhol studied design and painting at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. After college, he started working as a commercial artist in New York. At an early stage in his career, he became successful as a designer and illustrator. In 1960s, Warhol became well-associated with popular culture, gaining international acclaim. In 1969, Warhol established Interview, the magazine that featured many images of events and celebrities, by him.
Warhol worked with art and photography simultaneously and the two were inseparable. Camera became his companion since it served as a diary and sketchbook for him. Warhol has left 60,000 Polaroids and snapshots or in fact they are more in number.
Between 1963 and 1966, Warhol produced several photo-booth images of people and himself. The first photo-booth in New York came around in 1926, before Andy Warhol was born and this booth instantly became a common part of American culture. The photo-booth was both aesthetically and technically irresistible for Warhol since the process was automatic and fast and produced a standard head to shoulder image with flash and contrast. These images came out great on silkscreen printing. Warhol used to direct his subjects to different photo-booths in Manhattan. Sometimes he used to accompany them and other times they were left alone. When sitters used to be alone in booths, they often added their own creativity to their performances in front of the camera. The booth produced 4 exposures at one time and so the changing gestures and expressions conveyed a basic narrative. However, there were copyrights issues involved with this technique and to overcome it, Warhol then worked with Polaroid images made by him. The SX-70 camera allowed him to make portraits similar to that coming from photo-booths. Warhol invited sitters that included celebrities as well and shot exposures in different poses. He then selected a single photo from each session with a sitter for his silkscreen work.
When his colorful pop work was starting to gain attention, Warhol announced to be working on dark subjects, such as death. In the next few years, Andy Warhol worked concurrently on portraits of celebrities and on frightening subjects, such as suicides, food poisoning, car crash, electrical chairs, and hydrogen bombs. He preferred working with found images and searched through the public library of New York for photos to use for screen printing to make his work, Electric Chair in1971. After 1977, once Warhol became a popular at Studio 54, he used this approach to make portraits of fashion designers, actors and actresses, models and pop singers.
As a child, Warhol was very much impressed with movie stars and he assembled scrapbooks containing photographs of celebrities especially Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo and Marilyn Monroe. These images served as an inspiration for Warhol’s early silkscreen paintings. This was a method used commercially which involved an image being printed on canvas or paper using a screen. This process allowed Warhol to copy the source images precisely, cheaply and quickly in different patterns, colors and sizes. For 20 years, he focused on this approach to produce his work.
Andy Warhol was open about sexuality of gays and this acted as a main feature in his identity as an artist. During the span of his career, he made several films, photographs and sketches that portrayed men as objects of explicit desire.