Warhol, Andy (1926–1987) By Ahern, Mal
Andy Warhol was a painter, filmmaker, producer, and multi-media artist. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennyslvania and worked in New York City from the 1940s onward. He started his career as a commercial artist before moving into fine-art painting in the 1950s. Between 1962 and 1968, he made hundreds of films, ranging from a series of short ‘‘Screen Tests,’’ to the notorious, eight-hour film Empire (1965), which comprised a series of stable, slow motion shots of the Empire State Building. Warhol’s films were notorious for their spare aesthetic and banal subject matter: he created films of people eating, sleeping, getting haircuts, and simply staring at the camera. His sound films, like Poor Little Rich Girl (1965, starring Edie Sedgwick) and Screen Test #2 (1965, starring Mario Montez) show their stars sparring with an off-screen voice.
Warhol’s work was also notable for the fact that it depicted the lives and personalities of Warhol’s friends and acquaintances, most of whom were a part of New York City’s queer ‘‘underground.’’ His two-screen, three-plus hour epic Chelsea Girls became a minor hit because of its frank depiction of queer sex, cross-dressing, and drug use. After Warhol was shot in 1968, he retreated from filmmaking, but continued to create paintings and other artworks.