Andy Warhol (1928-1987, American) born Andrew Warhola, was an accomplished illustrator and pop artist whose works document celebrity culture and modern advertisement. A controversial artist, he pioneered computer generated art but worked in various types of media such as hand drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, silk screening, and sculpture. He was the first to use the phrase “15 minutes of fame”.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he was the child of Slovakian immigrants. Sickly in youth, he developed a fear of hospitals and doctors and became reclusive at an early age. After high school, he anticipated studying art education in order to become an art teacher. Instead, he pursued commercial art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. In 1949, he moved to New York to begin a career in magazine illustration and advertising. In the 50’s he began to exhibit his works. He held his first pop art exhibition in 1962. He was highly criticized for embracing American consumerism. Warhol barely survived a murder attempt by a radical feminist in 1968. The incident had a profound effect on his life and art. By the 80’s, he was being criticized as a “business” artist; his art was called superficial and commercial. He was known as the “Pope of Pop”.
Warhol was, of course, a cat lover. In his youth, after his father’s death, he lived in his Carnegie Hill townhouse throughout the 50’s and 60’s with his mother and 25 cats. In 1954, Warhol published a book of lithographs, 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy. His mother who helped with the publication accidentally left the ‘d’ off of ‘name’ and it was left that way, and there were only 16 cats, not 25. However, it is clear that Warhol depicted each cat with care, as each portrait displays the feline’s individual expression and character. Warhol’s cat collection began when he thought that his cat Hester would become lonely. He brought home another cat named Sam. Hester and Sam then had kittens. The sequel Holy Cats by Andy Warhol’s Mother is a eulogy for his mother’s cat Hester, which she wrote and illustrated herself. Warhol commented on the book, “It featured what she loved to draw most, angels and cats.” Shortly after Warhol’s death in 1987, the two publications were sold as a boxed set.
In his final years the eccentric Warhol lived alone in a five storey building with his cats and dogs surrounded by antiques, art and boxes of wigs. Ironically, he died of complications due to gallbladder surgery, remaining at home to avoid the doctors.
WATERCOLORS/PAINT/WASHES AND INK
HOLY CATS BY JULIA WARHOLA