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Andy Warhol is one of the most iconic artists in the history of experimental art. He pioneered the Pop Art movement, commercialising the genre in ways that had never been seen before. Combining avant-garde concepts with highly-commercial techniques, he embraced consumerism and its aesthetic at a time when most of his contemporaries were rebelling against it, and his works were received with mixed reaction. His first exhibition of 32 Campbell’s Soup cans in 1962 was panned at the time by attending art critics but later gained international acclaim. Warhol relished the notoriety: “Art is what you can get away with”, he famously declared.
His works span a variety of media including painting, silkscreening, photography, film, and sculpture, exploring the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertising, all of which flourished in 1960s New York.
With his shock of white hair and penchant for dark glasses and black clothing, Warhol relished and lived up to his celebrity as the coolest exponent of experimental art. His studio, The Factory’ (a glib reference to the mass-produced nature of his work), opened in 1964 and soon became a hub for movie stars, models, artist and musicians, including Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan , Salvador Dalí and Lou Reed (for a time he managed the Velvet Underground and the characters named in ‘Walk on the Wild Side were all habitués of the studio). This gave him the perfect opportunity to observe celebrity culture and popular icons up close and with this source of inspiration Warhol developed his signature pop art style, including the silk-screen prints of Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor and Jackie Kennedy for which he is perhaps most famous.
Warhol was a consummate businessman who viewed art as a product. “Making money is art, and working is art – and good business is the best art.” Today, 30 years after his death his works are still instantly recognisable and achieve incredible sales records. His 1963 canvas ‘Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) fetched US$105 million at The Economist magazine described his work as the “bellwether of the art market”. His 1963 seriegraph “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) fetched US$105 million at auction, breaking the previous record paid for a Warhol seriegraph, US$100 million for ‘Eight Elvises’.
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