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Andy Warhol

Andrew Warhola was born into a blue-collar family in Pittsburgh. He grew up, moved away to New York, became a graphic artist, and pretty much gave birth to the Pop Art movement. He made a name for himself painting Campbell's soup cans. He might be best known as being the guy who predicted: "In the future everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes."

In 1964, Warhol released the 16mm film Empire, which guaranteed from then on that every film student would suffer at least one solid day of sheer monotony. It consists of a long shot of the Empire State Building, filmed with a telephoto lens from a neighboring skyscraper, and held for eight straight hours. At the six-and-a-half hour mark, the floodlights illuminating the ESB go out, so for the remaining 90 minutes the subject is completely invisible. During the filming, Warhol summed up the project as "an eight-hour hardon."

In 1967, an underground organization calling themselves the Society for Cutting Up Men (SCUM) produced a politcal tract entitled SCUM Manifesto. Its basic theme could be summarized thusly:

Every man, deep down, knows he's a worthless piece of shit. ... The male has a negative Midas Touch -- everything he touches turns to shit.

Perhaps in reaction to works like Empire, the diatribe contained special contempt for conceptual artists like Warhol:

The male "artist" attempts to solve his dilemma of not being able to live, of not being female, by constructing a highly artificial world in which the male is heroized, that is, displays female traits, and the female is reduced to highly limited, insipid subordinate roles, that is, to being male.

The male "artistic" aim being, not to communicate (having nothing inside him he has nothing to say), but to disguise his animalism, he resorts to symbolism and obscurity ("deep" stuff). The vast majority of people, particularly the "educated" ones, lacking faith in their own judgment, humble, respectful of authority ("Daddy knows best"), are easily conned into believing that obscurity, evasiveness, incomprehensibility, indirectness, ambiguity and boredom are marks of depth and brilliance.

In June 1968, SCUM decided to assassinate Warhol. In reality, SCUM was just a lone nutjob with a gun named Valerie Solanas. She arrived at his studio and fired three times at him; only one bullet struck Warhol, but it punctured a lot of vital organs. Solanas shot another man in the thigh and fled. Warhol barely survived the attack. After he refused to testify at Solanas' trial, she received a pathetic three year sentence for the murder attempt.

In February 1987, Warhol was suffering from severe abdominal pain. He went to a chiropractor and received a strenuous massage which only intensified the pain. Some days later, a physician performed a sonogram and discovered that his gall bladder had become enlarged. The organ was surgically removed, and during the cholecystectomy it turned out to be gangrenous.

Warhol died the following day, in his hospital bed. He was buried wearing his platinum wig and sunglasses.


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