Andy Warhol: 1928 – 1987

Born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Andy Warhol was a painter, printmaker, and filmmaker and a  pivotal figure in the formation of the  Pop Art movement.

Warhol was the son of working-class Slovakian immigrants. His frequent illnesses in childhood often kept him bedridden and at home. During this time, he formed a strong bond with his mother.  It was what he describes an important period in the formation of his personality and skill set.

Warhol studied at the School of Fine Arts at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh (now Carnegie Mellon University), majoring in pictorial design. In 1949, he moved to New York City where he quickly became successful in magazine illustration and advertising, producing work for publications such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and the The New Yorker.

Much of Warhol’s work the 1950’s was commissioned by fashion houses and he became known for his whimsical ink drawings of I. Miller shoes. In 1952, Warhol’s illustrations for Truman Capote’s writings were exhibited by the Hugo Gallery in New York and he exhibited at several other venues in the 1950′s including a 1956 group show at the Museum of Modern Art. Warhol received several awards during this decade from the Art Director’s Club and the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

Warhol was enthralled with Hollywood celebrities, fashion, and style and by the early 1960’s these interests were reflected in his artwork. Borrowing images from popular culture, Warhol’s “Pop Art” paintings were characterized by repetition of everyday objects such as soup cans, Coca Cola bottles, and 100 dollar bills.  He also began painting celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Elizabeth Taylor.

Most of Warhol’s paintings were produced in his studio that he called “The Factory” with the help of assistants. Photographic images were screen-printed on to painted backgrounds and mechanically repeated – a process that mimicked the manufacturing industry and parodied mass consumption. During the Factory years, Warhol associated with and “groomed” a variety of artists, writers, musicians, and underground celebrities including Edie Sedgwick, Viva, writer John Giorno, and film-maker Jack Smith.

Warhol worked prolifically in a range of media including painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, and film. Between 1963 and 1968 he produced more than 60 films and about 500 short “screen test” portraits of his studio visitors. His most popular and successful film was Chelsea Girls, made in 1966.

On June 3, 1968, Warhol and art critic/curator Mario Amaya, were shot by Valerie Solanas after she was turned away from the Factory studio. Warhol’s wound was almost fatal and would affect him physically and mentally for the rest of his life.

The 1970’s was a quieter decade for Warhol who concentrated more on portrait commissions for celebrities such as Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, and others.  He founded Interview Magazine and in 1975 published “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol” which expressed the idea that “Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art.” During the 1970’s Warhol was also involved in a number collaborations with young artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente and Keith Haring.

In general, Andy Warhol was consistently ambiguous on the meaning of his work and appeared indifferent and ambivalent. He denied that his artwork carried any social or political commentary.

Warhol died in New York City on February 22, 1987 of a cardiac arrhythmia while recovering from routine gallbladder surgery. In his will, almost his entire estate was dedicated to the “advancement of the visual arts”. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts was founded in that same year and it remains one of the largest grant-giving organizations for the visual arts in the United States today.

Sources: MOMA, Guggenheim, National Gallery of Canada, Andy Warhol Foundation, Wikipedia

Canada Day: Canadian Art

Happy Canada Day all you Canucks and friends of Canucks out there! In celebration of Canada’s National Day, DAF presents another collection of work from well known (and not so well known) Canadian artists.  If you have any suggestions for next year, feel free to email

DAF Group Feature: Vol. 140

This week’s Mixx is a collection of inspirations discovered via one of our favourite Apps – Flipboard – a magazine style app where you are the curator of your content. If you’ve never heard of it – definitely check it out.

Egon Schiele: 1890-1918

Born on June 12, 1890, in Tulln, Austria Egon Schiele was a major figure of the Austrian Expressionist movement.

Schiele began drawing as a child and in 1906, at the age of sixteen, attended  the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. During these years, he was strongly influenced by Gustav Klimt and the Vienna Secession artists whose style  emphasized  flowing line and ornamentation.  Schiele and Klimt met in 1907 and Klimt was supportive of the young artist.  He introduced Schiele to his own models and patrons, and helped him find work.  He also included Schiele in the 1909 Internationale Kunstchau Exhibition of foreign and Austrian artists.

In 1909, Schiele became dissatisfied with the academy’s conservatism and formed the Neukünstler (New Artists) Group with other dropouts from the Academy. Free from the confines of the Academy’s conventions, Schiele began to explore the human form and human sexuality in his work. At the time, many found the explicitness of his works  ugly and disturbing. Through 1913, Schiele created his best known works -  drawings of female models, either nude or semi-nude, in oddly foreshortened poses.

In 1915, Schiele married Edith Harms, was drafted into the military, and assigned to various posts outside Vienna. Creating portraits of Edith, Schiele adapted a more naturalistic approach which he also used in the increasing number of portrait commissions he had begun to receive.

“Draughtsmanship played a significant role in Schiele’s art. Although he produced few original prints, he made numerous independent drawings, in which he used pencil or chalk, and occasionally charcoal or ink, to create a sharply defined outline that he then filled in with watercolour or gouache.  Schiele was shy and introspective, but obsessive in the pursuit of his art and in his contemplation of mortality, which provoked the confessional and compassionate tone of his work.”

In 1918, Schiele received a large exhibition of his work at the Viennese Seccession.  Just as he had begun to achieve commercical success, both Schiele and his wife contracted the Spanish flu.  Edith, who was six months pregnant, died on October 28, 1918.  Schiele died three days later on October 31, 1918 at the age of 28.

Though Schiele’s career was short, he was extremely prolific.  He created over three hundred oil paintings and several thousand works on paper. His work has inspired the work of later artists, especially in Austria, making him a major figure in 20th-century art.

Sources: MoMA, MoMAMet Museum, Wikipedia

Maurice Sendak: 1928 – 2012

Where The Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak

Maurice Bernard Sendak was born on June 10, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York, to Polish-Jewish immigrant parents.  He was often sick as a child and spent much of his time indoors where reading was a major pastime. It was during this time that he began drawing, a passion that continued throughout high school. Shortly after graduating, Sendak published a number of illustrations in the textbook “Atomics for the Millions”.

Sendak began working for FAO Schwartz as a window dresser in 1948 and took night classes at the New York Art Students League. Four years later, he left Schwartz to become a full-time freelance children’s book illustrator.

By the early 1960′s, Sendak had gained recognition as one of the more interesting and expressive illustrators in the business.  Where The Wild Things Are, published in 1963, brought him international acclaim and became a favourite among children around the world.

Over the course of his career, Sendak has created dozens of popular children’s books including “In The Night Kitchen”. Published in 1970, the book has been censored often for its drawings of a young boy dancing naked through the story.

Sendak has won numerous awards including the Caldecott Medal for “Where the Wild Things Are”,  the Hans Christian Andersen Award for children’s book illustration, the National Book Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and others.

As well as his work as a writer and illustrator of children’s books, Sendak has produced both operas and ballets for television and the stage.

According to Harper Collins Rosenbach Museum & Library, “Where The Wild Things Are” has sold over 19 million copies worldwide (2008).  A large collection of his work is housed at the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia. His collection of approximately 10,000 works of art, and manuscripts, and books have been the subject of numerous exhibitions at the Rosenbach.

Sendak died in the morning of May 8, 2012, in Connecticut, after complications from a stroke.

The New York Times‘ obituary called Sendak “the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century.” Author Neil Gaiman remarked, “He was unique, grumpy, brilliant, gay, wise, magical and made the world better by creating art in it.”  Sendak’s final book, Bumble-Ardy, was published eight months prior to his death. A posthumous picture book is scheduled for publication in February 2013.

For more information, visit the sources links below.

Sources: PBS-American Masters, Wikipedia-Sendak, Wikipedia-Where The Wild Things Are