Biographical Concise Summary of Andy Warhol

10 2008 Ostatní English
obálka čísla

Born: August 6, 1928
Died: February 22, 1987

Both his parents originated from the northern border space of Slovakia. The latter was along with Sucarpathian Russia (sometimes called Ruthenia) the eastern part of the territory of Czechoslovakia, created for the first time in the European History after WWI in 1918. Previously, these two regions were for more than 1000 years a portion of the Hungarian Empire, where Hungarian language was mandatory. It was estimated that in those days, the illiteracy rate of the people in that region was about 80 to 90 percent. The Ruthanian language was a goulash of Slovak and Ukrainian languages, mixed up with, many Hungarian, German or Polish words. As for their literature, it was practically nonexistent. The only unifying factor in their individual villages or towns was the half Roman Catholic and half Russian Orthodox church. Their inhabitants were mostly employed as farmers or shepherds, who were raising cows, sheep and/or chickens. Also, they liked to decorate eggs. Indeed, their life was very poor and primitive.

Andy´s father Ondrej (Andrew) Warhola, was born in Mikova on Novemer 28, 1889. He was known as a rigid and dedicated workaholic. His Mother Julia (nee Zavacky) was also born in Mikova on November 17, 1892. She was known to be an incessant idle schmoozer (a Yddish word, which was derived from the German noun “der Schmuser”, meaning gossipmonger or chatter). They were living in a tiny poor village called Mikova, located about thirty miles south of the densely wooded northern border area, called Dukla Pass, locatdd in the mountainous zone of East Beskids. As for his mother´s ancestry, it was found that Julia ´s grandmother was Jewish. The advantage of Jews living in that region was that they spoke not only Slovak and Ruthanian, but also Hungarian and German, while the majority of the population was uneducated. Moreover, Jews made all money loans, offered credits and, often, they had their own schops. Consequently, all remaining population was dependent on them. That is why they were often considered b the remaining inhabitants to be “Devil´s workers”.

In 1904, Andrew left for America, as so many Slovaks and Ruthanians did at that time. Their constant flow of emigration was in those days so overwhelming that Hungarian Authorities became seriously worried about the possibility of a depopulation of that region. During. Andrew´s rather short stay of about 5 years in the USA, he worked in the coal mines in Pennsylvania. He was very thrifty. During those years, he earned a lot of money, measured by the Ruthanian standards. He returned home, where his family and relatives lived, I. e. to Mikova in 1909, that year he also got married. But, in 1912, he again moved alone to the USA. Thereby he avoided the duty of a military service in the Austro-Hungarian Army. Besides, in so doing, he also kept clear form the WWI (1914–1918) war activities in Europe. In 1913, Julia gave birth to their first child, who was called Justina. Regrettably, the girl died within a short time. In 1922, Julia followed her husband in emigrating to the USA, where she was then helping her husband by some occasional short-time jobs, such as cleaning houses, etc. She had never been able to learn to speak the English language correctly and she was unable to write it.

On August 6, 1928 Andy was born in a small township Soho in Pennsylvania USA. It was rather a rough place to live, because in that area, there were big competition fights for work among the Irish, Ukrainian, Rumanian, Slovak and Ruthenian factoryworkers. As regards the immigrated Ruthanians, their meetings currently took place at their church. There, their priests read the sermons based on the habits, acquired in their old country. Andy had two brothers, the oldest one Paul, followed by the second one John, while Andy was the youngest one. They were all born in the USA. Their father died when they were all small. His death particularly affected Andy as a child very much. During his life, his father saved several thousand dollars, which he invested in U. S. postal savings bonds. This kind of financial backing enabled them to improve their living and housing conditions. Their mother wal ill almost all the time. They did not have many friends. This was due the to fact that all other nationalities looked down upon them as being of a rather low grade. Due to the fact that Andy was very often sick in the course of his childhood, he spent at home a lot of the time with his mother. During those days, she frequently secured for him some kind of entertainment in the form of various movie magazines to read or paint. Unfortunately, this meant that in fact, he was detached from the world for a certain period.

Andy had three nervous breakdowns during his childhood. The las one was diagnosed as a mild case of St. Vitus´ dance. Such illness left him with a skin whiteness, which was plaguing him thoughout his whole life. At that time, Andy colored many books and pasted many movie magazines. Movie stars were his idols. Particularly the cute child-star Shirely Temple influenced him considerably. The father´s desire was for Andy to get a college education. While watching him, he concluded that Andy could become highly disciplined in his work. In doing so, he would follow his father´s dedication to hard working. Andy´s drawback was his ugly body, similar to that of a hunchback. His mother was daily dedicating all her energies to support Andy in his diligent endeavors during her subsequent yeas of living. Indeed, he grew up during the severe years of The Depression.

When his brother Paul started his new business of selling vegetables and fruits from door to door, Andy helped him during the summer months to earn some money. That was also the time, when Andy began to make his skcetches of all the things he observed during those errands. Thereafter, during his university studies, it became obvious that Andy was an exceptionally talented artist in doing such drawings. Besides, Andy also enjoyed going to dancing classes and participating in pleasure parties. Although it was known that he was gay, Andy never spoke about homosexuality, and he never made any sexual advances to anybody. However, at the art school, homosexuality was currently accepted and no problems arose from such a fact. At that time, Andy found, besides Shirley Temple, another idol in Truman Capote. Then, he wanted to be indentical to this worshiped image. At that time, Andy´s most celebrated autobiographical painting was “Nosepicker”, which gave rise to a success, but of a scandalous character. When Andy majored in Painting and Desing at Cornegie Tech, he became director of the literary magazine on campus. In those days, Philip Pearlstein was his closest friend. In 1949, they both moved to New York.

Before long, Andy´s activities were focused on both Commercial and Pop Art. What he eagerly and intensely wanted to do was to again quickly more fame. He was supposed to have said: “I want to be as famous as the Queen of England”. He knew that fame resulted in an increased income. Moreover, the latter served as a means of having sex, although he was time and again called asexual, which means queer. After all, AIDS colored his work and conduct throughout his life. Andy was also gay, which was nothing exceptional in the art business. Whenever he talked about homosexuality, Andy called it a “problem”. Moreover, Andy was frequently also called a voyeur. Some critics thought that some of his creations were pretty close to pornography. As for Andy´s being gay, it is well-known, that there were also many other celebrated gay artists, such as Oscar Wilde (1854–1900), the famous poet and playwright of Irish origin. Furthermore, Marcel Proust (1871–1922) one of the greatest French novelists in 1900s, suffered both from asthma and from being gay as well. Also, the world´s bestknown symphonic composer Peter Illich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893) was known to be homosexual.

In spite of all that was mentioned above, Andy was considered to be the most magnificent producer of the 20th century. His constant and greedy desire was to gain more power. Also, Andy was permanently eagerlyendeavoring to surround himself with well-known superstars. In New York, he established his sudio in a former hat factory. That is why it was then generally called as a “Factory”, where his art productions took place. His constant desire was to surroung himself with well-known superstars. In 1965, he was able to install one-man shows in several important European towns, and, in addition, in Toronto and Buenos Aires. Thus, Andy became generally known worldwide.

On June 3, 1968, Andy´s was gunner by Valerie Solanis, a superstar reject, in his chest and abdomen. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced clinically dead. However, the doctors saved his life. Andy had as a result constant problems with sleeping and digestion. Accordingly, Andy´s previously felt panicky fear of hospitals was thus much more intensified.

As long as we start studying Andy´s work, we realize that is shows in many instances frequent repetitions of certain images. A typical and rather initial example of his great success, was his designing the Campbell´s Soup Cans, of whch he made two hundred at the same time. Many analogicat examples of such artistic production could also be quoted in this connection. Indeed, similar endeavors were also applied in the past by several other artists, such as Honore de Balsac (1799–1850), French novelist, author of the great and large collection of romances entitled “La Comedie Humaine” or even Richard Wagner (1813–1883) German musician and poet who by combination of these twin arts created his great music drama the “Ring der Nibelungen”.

In the course of his career, Andy and Edie Sedgewick become initially good friends. They were both wearing silver hair wigs. Many of Andy´s photographs show him almost always with his disshevelled wig (allegedly, Andy had 50 various types of wigs), same sunglasses and striped shirts. As for Fred Hughes, he usually gave Andy priceless advices on social strategy and became his valuable councellor. Andy frequently desired that someone would take care of serious decisions. He worked assiduously and feverishly thoughout all the many years in his shop. In some respects of decision making Andy relied in many instances on Bob Colacello, Andy´s editor of “Interview” magazine. Also, he relied frequently on aclose co-operation with both Fred Hughes and Christopher Markos, the photographer.

Andy´s very special skill was that he was easily able to create many friends, whether they were in Hollywood, Newport, Princeto, or in any other famous places. All his loyal collaborators were working in Andy´s laboratory, which was called Factor, where they always gathered. Andy´s life was based on practicality. He hated waste, Andy printed negatives of a photo on a screen, through which Andy´s assistants then pushed paint in order to form a positive image on the camera. Silkscreening required new variety of visual intelligence. They were nets, webs, mazes, meshes, composing of a fine silk clothing. Many films were created by Andy in cooperation with his collaborators. Some of such films were judged by the police authorities as obscene. Consequently, they were not allowed to be projected publicly… Besides, Andy wrote various books, including a very thorough description of his philosophy. Andy was a very gregarious person, because he constantly looked for establishing of new personal contacts, especially with famous contemporaries.

At the beginning of the year 1987, Andy complained of pains in his right side. As it was generally known, Andy was extremely panicky in visiting doctors. Also he hated hospitals so much that in passing them anywhere in a car, he always covered his face by something to avoid seeing them. It was obvious that his gallbladder was somehow offected and needed a doctor´s immedialte attention. On February 17, Andy felt that the pain was becoming more acute. Reluctantly, the following day he contacted his doctor in New York to give him a complete examination. Afterwards, Andy was told that his gallbladder might burst at any moment, which would result in a possible cause of death. After all, Andy´s gangrenous gallbladder was removed, at the hospital. However, he lived only three more hours thereafter and on February 22, 1977, he died…

Bibliographical sources

Victor Borgis

Warhol (1989) – British Edition

Christopher Makos

Warhol – A personal photographic memoir (1988)

An Insider´s Portrait by Bob Colacello

Holly Terror Andy Warhol Close-Up (1990

Wayne Koestenbaum

Andy Warhol (2001

Cedar Rapids, May 31, 2006

Vydavatelem Českého dialogu je Mezinárodní český klub

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