On 6 August 1928, Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Today, almost thirty years after his death, he is still an icon in art, popular culture and for creative thinkers around the world.
Like many great artists throughout history, Warhol was ahead of his time, the original social networker. Decades before the advent of Twitter or blogging platforms, years before Instagram, Warhol was methodically recording his thoughts, his ideas and his life. Through his beloved Dictaphone, which he affectionately referred to as his “wife” and his trusty Minox 35EL camera, Warhol pre-dated today’s sharing society provided by the World Wide Web. He captured life’s every moment and broadcast to appreciative, adoring audiences.
1. He wasn’t always so well received
In 1949, Warhol’s painting The Broad Gave Me My Face, But I Can Pick My Own Nose was rejected for the annual exhibition of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh.
2. He was a Catholic
Warhol was a practicing Catholic. He was known to often volunteer at homeless shelters in New York City and described himself as a religious person. After his death, a series of religiously themed art work was found in his estate.
3. He was a pioneer in digital art
Master of multimedia, Warhol was one of the very first artists to produce digital art. Using Amiga computers in 1984, he experimented with the new technology to manipulate images of his own, such as the Campbell’s Soup can and create new ones. He even attended Commodore Amiga’s launch event in 1985, taking to the stage to manipulate and edit his iconic image of Debbie Harry: digital art, created live in front of an audience over thirty years ago! He was the first artist to publicly exhibit video art.
4. He was an avid collector
Warhol was an ardent collector, of art yes, but also of ‘things’. Things he felt an affinity or connection with. From a collection of airplane menu cards, to cookie jars, Warhol even joins John Lennon and Freddie Mercury as collectors of stamps. In fact, in 2002, the U.S. Postal Service issued an 18-cent stamp commemorating him.
5. An attempt was made on his life
Valerie Solanas, an author who had appeared in one of Warhol’s films, shot him in his studio in 1968. Warhol was reportedly dead upon arrival at the hospital, but five hours of surgery including open heart massage saved his life. Solanas was sentenced to three years in prison.