American Masters | Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film

This is an excellent documentary on Warhol. He never was one of my favorites, but after watching this film, I have a renewed respect and interest in him. He was a very complicated person, like so many of us, with many different sides to his personality. Really intelligent and emotional, and yet appallingly shallow at the same time. Watch this. I don’t think you’ll regret it. – DG

Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928, in a two-room shack-like apartment at 73 Orr Street in the working class neighborhood of Soho in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Andrej Warhola and Julia Zavacky Warhola. The youngest of three sons, Andrew attended Holmes Elementary School and Schenley High School, and entered Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh in 1945, where he studied with Balcomb Greene, Robert Lepper, Samuel Rosenberg, and others. He experimented with his name, signing holiday cards “André,” and dropping the final “a” from his family name. He graduated in June 1949 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Pictorial Design.

Soon after graduating, Warhol moved to New York City to pursue a career as a commercial artist. His first work appeared in Glamour magazine in September 1949. Throughout the 1950s, he became one of the most successful illustrators of his time, and won numerous awards for his work from the Art Directors Club and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. His clients included Tiffany & Co., The New York Times, I. Miller Shoes, Bonwit Teller, Columbia Records, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Fleming-Joffe, NBC, and others. Much of his commercial work was based on photographs and other source images, a process he would use for the rest of his life. He also employed the delightfully quirky handwriting of his mother Julia in many of his works in this period. She won a professional award for her lettering on the LP The Story of Moondog in 1958, and Warhol published a book of her drawings, Holy Cats, in 1957. She was always credited as “Andy Warhol’s Mother.” She left Pittsburgh in 1952 to join her son, and they lived together until about 1971. Warhol painted memorial portraits of her after her death; he also had made a film and shot videotapes of her.

Read more from the PBS homepage for the movie.

Here is an excerpt from the documentary from YouTube (the only one I could find):


Tags: Andy Warhol, PBS, The Factory, art, documentary, modern art, modernism, painter, painting

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Replies to This Discussion

He never was one of my favorites, but after watching this film, I have a renewed respect and interest in him.

This brings up a fundamental question, or more precisely a set of questions about art. Should works of art be considered as self-sufficient, independently of their author(s)? Or does one have to amass knowledge about the author to fully appreciate his works? Should works of art be considered independently of their cultural background or not (in the sense that a Mozart clone writing XVIIIth century-style sonatas wouldn't certainly get much attention today, independently of their merit)?

For what is worth, my own answers to these questions would be "yes", "no", and "yes". Although I'd attach a "but..." clause to all of them.
Should works of art be considered as self-sufficient, independently of their author(s)? Or does one have to amass knowledge about the author to fully appreciate his works? Should works of art be considered independently of their cultural background or not...

No, not if you say "should." If you say "Can works of art be considered as self-sufficient, independently of their author(s)?," then I would say yes. I can see a painting and instantly fall in love with it for whatever reason--because it speaks to me--and not know anything about who painted it, or the when, where, and how of it.

However, understanding the WWWWWH's of the creation can supplement and enrich our understanding and appreciation for a work of art.

You don't have to understand the history of art to appreciate cubism, but if you understand the context and history that lead to cubism, that knowledge can bring new meaning to those works of art.

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