Name at birth: Andrew Warhola
Andy Warhol began as a commercial illustrator in New York, doing artwork for ads and magazines in the 1940s and 1950s. Eventually he crossed from commercial work to fine art, blurring the line between the two along the way. In the early 1960s his huge and colorful silk-screen renderings of banal objects like Coke bottles and a Campbell's Soup can were hugely popular and established him as the leader of the so-called Pop Art movement. (His multi-color, multi-image portrait of Marilyn Monroe is another famous image from this era.) By the mid-1960s Warhol had become an icon of the psychedelic generation; he made strange and lengthy experimental movies, held famous gatherings in "The Factory," his Manhattan studio, and surrounded himself with a court of fellow artists and adoring fans. He also worked closely with the experimental rock group The Velvet Underground and (in 1969) founded the influential celebrity magazine Interview. Warhol's attitude was summed up in part in his statement, "In the future everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes."
Warhol was shot and critically wounded by an acquaintance, Valerie Solanas, in June of 1968. The incident was the basis of the 1996 film I Shot Andy Warhol and Lou Reed’s 1990 song “I Believe”… In May of 2007 Warhol’s Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I) was sold at auction for $71.7 million, the most ever paid for one of his paintings; six months earlier a Warhol record was set with the sale of Mao for $17.4 million.