Happy Birthday, Pope of Pop!

It’s the birthday of the “Pope of Pop” and we’re taking a look at closer look at the creator of some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. Andy Warhol (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) was openly obsessed with celebrity and brand cultures, famously declaring: “In the future, everyone will be world famous for fifteen minutes.” Is it true? Have we reached his vision with today’s social media flurry? Our current obsession with images and branding is undoubtedly rooted in a Warhol-ian precedent of the art of personal branding.

Warhol began his career as a commercial artist, upon moving to New York where he started at Glamour Magazine. Even after enjoying a highly successful career as a commercial illustrator working with brands like Vogue, Tiffany’s and The New York Times, Warhol was unhappy with the fact that no one in the art world took commercial artists like him seriously. He turned to “the lowest of lowbrow images” — a product far removed from art — a Campbell’s soup cans, transferred these iconic images into an art context.

Warhol used popular brand images like Campbell’s Soup and Coca Cola in his silkscreens. He gave art a more accessible viewpoint: no longer needing to exist in the cryptic realm of Pollock’s Abstract Expressionism, art instead could point directly to popular culture and consumer products

Warhol’s idea of using brands in art has influenced generations of artists since the 60s. Our very own Lisa Eryn’s photographs Coco Doll and Prada Splat feature the logos of two of the most prominent names in today’s fashion industry.

Warhol soon achieved superstar status and found himself in a circle of celebrity friends such as Audrey Hepburn, Yves Saint Laurent and Marilyn Monroe. His portraits of them find a perfect fit with the themes of his art — fashion, music and media.

What was considered outrageous once is now a common practice. Several contemporary artists are following Warhol’s pop style and sensitivity in their work today. So, happy birthday! We have a lot to thank you for, Mr. Warhol.

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