Andy Warhol’s Pop Art on display in Beijing

Andy, Tian'anmen Square with Figure on Right (1982) Photos: Billie Feng

An exhibition titled “15 Minutes Eternal” is underway at the Art Museum of China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA). The exhibition displays works of art created by American artist Andy Warhol (1928–1987), covering various art forms such as paintings, photographs, sketches and sculptures. The exhibition runs until November 15.

Warhol was born in an immigrant family struggling to make a living in the US. His parents left their homeland in East Europe in search of a better life, but the family regularly attended mass and observed the traditions of their East European heritage.

Warhol’s parents encouraged him to develop his creative talent from his childhood by enrolling him in Saturday art classes in Carnegie Institute. Warhol entered the Painting and Design department of Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1945 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1949. He stood out among his peers in his college years because of his innovative ideas.

Jackie (1964), acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen

Immediately after graduating from college, Warhol left Pittsburg for New York and found work as a commercial illustrator for Glamour and other fashion magazines. His drawings of shoes for I. Miller became a sensational success and he bought his first house in New York. His mother moved in and became one of his assistants. During the 1950s, Warhol established himself as one of the outstanding illustrators of his time and won numerous awards. By the mid-1950s, Warhol was earning about $50,000 a year, an incredible salary for young artists at that time.

After traveling around the world, Warhol returned to painting, and began making friends in the contemporary art circle in downtown Manhattan and embracing more forms of art including dance, performance and film in 1956. He had his first show of Pop Art in Los Angeles in 1962. He moved his studio to the Upper East Side in New York in 1964 and began making larger paintings, as well as sculptures and films. By the late 1960s, his paintings had become definitive emblems of American Pop Art. He founded Interview magazine, which brought together the circles of art, fashion, high society, film and modeling.

Shoe (1950s), Gold leaf, tempera,and collage on wood shoe form

During the 1970s, Warhol created some of his most ambitious paintings and a number of prints and photographs. In 1973, he moved his studio to an even larger space at 860 Broadway to accommodate the activities of Andy Warhol Enterprises. During the 1980s, he chose to work together with some young artists. He also appeared in TV programs, produced music videos for rock bands and worked for modeling agencies. He died from complications from gallbladder surgery in January 1987.

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