An American original, Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburg, PA in 1928. He left Pittsburg for New York in the 1940's and became a brilliant commercial Illustrator for several magazines in the 1950's.
In the late 1950's and 60's he became a successful fine artist. He painted the Campbell's Soup Can and other famous paintings that have become the essence of Pop Art and the icons of a generation.
The theory behind Pop Art which was images created of mass-produced, ordinary, everyday items was that these ideas came from the real world and what the average person came in contact with daily. In the past art had an aura of refined wealth and exclusive power. Andy came from a working-class, immigrant family. His philosophy was more about showing common images which took ideas from TV, movies, newspapers and billboards.
Concerning his famous Coke Bottle, Andy said:
"What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it".(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Warhol)
Andy created his work in a large studio that he called a "Factory". He hired assistants who helped him with his work and shared in his glamorous life. He constantly filmed people at the Factory and at his parties which were an ongoing feature of Andy's life.
Andy was almost killed in an assassination attempt in 1968. He suffered life long problems because of this and eventually died of gallbladder problems in 1987.
In retrospect, more than anything Andy Warhol defined America in the 1960's with his edgy social life infused with sexual freedom and recreational drugs along with his lack of social skills covered up by silent voyeurism that all together became known as "Cool". Andy Warhol was an enigma. Nobody really knew him and yet a bewildered looking Andy, white hair flying from his head as if electrically charged became a symbol of a changing America in the 60's and 70's every bit as much as the soup can became the symbol of crazy art in the 1950's. In the end, Andy himself became The Art.