Andy Warhol is truly one of the most interesting people you could every know about. I might be a little biased because he is related to my maternal grandmother (more about that later), but there is definitely no denying that he led an extraordinary, glamorous, yet tragic life.
He was born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928 in a small apartment on Orr Street in Pittsburgh. His parents are Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants and devout Byzantine Catholics (both traits which my grandma still possesses). My grandma's father and Andy are first cousins, which makes my grandma second, and me distantly related (but I still use the ties as my claim to fame). Just like many immigrants of that time, Andy's name was changed from Warhola to Warhol. His talent was recognized at a young age and continued through his young adulthood when he attended Carnegie Mellon University.
Soon after graduating he moved to New York City and he soon became one of the most successful magazine illustrators of the 1950s. Thanks to the movie "Serendipity" the trendy restaurant is a hot spot for many people traveling to New York, but little do they know that Andy was making it a popular spot long before the movie debuted. In the late '50s he had many art shows and parties there.
The paintings Warhol is most know for are his miraculous "Pop" paintings, including Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Elizabeth Taylor, and the infamous Campbell Soup Can. His studio "The Factory" became a huge part of the culture in the 60s and early 70s. Andy shot many movies there and it's where he did all his work. Little did he know it would soon be the "it" place to be in New York City and became much more of a party spot than an art studio.
A few years ago "Factory Girl" starring Sienna Miller as the beautiful Edie Sedgwick gave the unfortunate people who never experienced "The Factory" a glimpse at what the glamorous and carefree life was like. Warhol is said to be responsible for the rise and fall of the young Edie. A different story in her own, and famous for her striped shirts and black tights, Edie in many ways was actually responsible for the rise of Andy's career; starring in his movies for barely nothing, showing up on his arm at premiers and galas, and bringing in starts who otherwise wouldn't have given Warhol the time of day. Edie is perhaps the most famous muse in the industry despite her short life. Having ties to Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, Bob Neuwirth and Bob Dylan, Edie is said to be the inspiration for many songs throughout the time. Although she was surrounded by some of the best, Edie led a lonely life filled with hate, drugs and alcohol. Her short life ended the night of November 15, 1971.
Warhol continued on through the 70s and 80s without Edie. He was one to never show emotions, and although they had a falling out, I cannot believe that Andy wasn't affected by the death of his muse. During the 70s Andy was a regular at Studio 54 and interacted with the likes of Jackie O, Liza Minnelli, Biance Jagger, and many others on the socialite NY scene. Warhol's career thrived until his mysterious death after a gall bladder surgery the morning of February 22, 1987, he was just 58 years old.
If you're ever in Pittsburgh, The Warhol, a museum filled with Andy's work and mementoes from his life is one of the best places in the city. This museum has the largest collection of his artwork. His movies are constantly playing, there are featured exhibits, a cafe, store, and currently an entire floor dedicated to Marilyn Monroe, now through January 2nd. I go to the museum every few months, most recently in July for the Shepard Fairey exhibit and plan to go see the Marilyn exhibit the Saturday after Thanksgiving.