Andy Warhol (born Andrew Warhola) is a name synonymous with the celebrity culture and mass consumerism which coloured the boulevards of New York City in the Post World War II era. Born into a working class immigrant family in the urban landscape around the bustling metropolis, Warhol’s early life was characterised by a climb up the capitalist rungs of society.

The artist himself noted, “buying is more American than thinking, and I’m as American as they come”, this quote came to demarcate Warhol’s artistic practice as he embraced the commodification of the American Dream. The Pop artist’s beginnings in the business sector gave him the practical skillset to experiment with a more commercial approach to art throughout his career, particularly with regards to screen printing. A string of exhibitions in the 1950s paved the way for Warhol’s success, beginning with his first solo show at the Hugo Gallery in New York in 1952 entitled, Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote. Influenced by the Neo Dada group (which included the artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg) who prided themselves in working within the gap between art and life, Warhol sought to differentiate himself from the Abstract Expressionists who dominated the American cultural scene in the years after World War II. However, rather than championing the underbelly of the city like Rauschenberg, Warhol celebrated consumerist culture, proclaiming that, “the Pop artists did images that anybody walking down Broadway could recognise in a split second … all the great modern things that the Abstract Expressionists tried so hard not to notice at all.” Further, British Pop artist Richard Hamilton branded Pop Art as, “popular, transient, expendable, low cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, big business.” The effect of the capitalist boom in the 1950s continues to resonate in the modern era, Warhol’s art echoing through time and space as society remains consumed by popular culture.

Andy Warhol Artist Portrait Photograph
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