It may seem like a recent phenomenon, but Andy Warhol was an anomalous life logger in the 1960s, endlessly snapping Polaroids of the celebrities buzzing around him.
“My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person,” king of Pop Art Andy Warhol once said.
Carrying a Polaroid camera from the late 1950s until his death in 1987, he amassed a huge collection of instant pictures of friends, lovers, patrons, the famous, the obscure, the scenic, the fashionable, and himself.
The candid portraits, taken by Warhol with his Polaroid Big Shot Camera in the Seventies and Eighties, include leading lights from the world of music, movies and sport, from Liza Minelli and John Lennon to Arnold Schwarzenegger to Muhammad Ali.
Andy Warhol, born Andrew Warhola Jr.(August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) was an American artist, film director, and producer who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, advertising, and celebrity culture that flourished by the 1960s, and span a variety of media, including painting, silkscreening, photography, film, and sculpture. Some of his best known works include the silkscreen paintings Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962) and Marilyn Diptych (1962), the experimental films Empire (1964) and Chelsea Girls (1966), and the multimedia events known as the Exploding Plastic Inevitable (1966–67).
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Warhol initially pursued a successful career as a commercial illustrator. After exhibiting his work in several galleries in the late 1950s, he began to receive recognition as an influential and controversial artist. His New York studio, The Factory, became a well-known gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities, and wealthy patrons. He promoted a collection of personalities known as Warhol superstars, and is credited with inspiring the widely used expression “15 minutes of fame”. In the late 1960s he managed and produced the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground and founded Interview magazine. He authored numerous books, including The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and Popism: The Warhol Sixties. He lived openly as a gay man before the gay liberation movement. In June 1968, he was almost killed by radical feminist Valerie Solanas who shot him inside his studio. After gallbladder surgery, Warhol died of cardiac arrhythmia in February 1987 at the age of 58 in New York.
Warhol has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, books, and feature and documentary films. The Andy Warhol Museum in his native city of Pittsburgh, which holds an extensive permanent collection of art and archives, is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist. A 2009 article in The Economist described Warhol as the “bellwether of the art market”. Many of his creations are very collectible and highly valuable. The highest price ever paid for a Warhol painting is $105 million for a 1963 serigraph titled Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster). His works include some of the most expensive paintings ever sold.
(Photos by Andy Warhol)