You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.
– Andy Warhol
Monday would have been the 84th birthday of the iconic artist Andy Warhol, pop art pioneer and one of the Steel City’s native sons, born and raised right here in Pittsburgh. He grew up in South Oakland, graduated from Schenley High School, studied graphic design in college, worked some gigs as a commercial illustrator, and eventually headed to New York City, where he opened up his studio (infamously dubbed “The Factory”), cultivated a vibrant creative community, hung out with folks like Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, & Mick Jagger, and pretty much spent the rest of his life making art history. Almost anyone would recognize his iconic Campbell’s Soup cans and his eye-popping portraits of celebs like Marilyn Monroe & Mao Zedong.
Pittsburgh is home to the Andy Warhol Museum, which is the largest American art museum dedicated to a single artist. If you haven’t been there yet, it’s definitely worth a visit. The galleries are packed with more than 12,000 Andy Warhol originals in every medium imaginable—paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, films, audio recordings— you name it. Plus, the exhibitions are changing all the time, constantly featuring unseen Warhol artwork unearthed from the archives, as well as the work of other artists.
During The Factory days, Andy liked to take dreamy, slow motion film portraits of friends, actors, celebrities, and whoever dropped by the studio. Starting this week, you can drop into the museum and create your own screen test—pick your background, adjust your lighting, and get ready for your close up. It’s interactive art at its best.
When Andy Warhol died in 1987, he was buried in a small cemetery a few miles outside of Pittsburgh. In spite of the low profile of his final resting place, fans have flocked to the site for years now to pay homage to the eccentric artist. Some play bagpipes; others perform séances. Many of them leave something behind—cans of Campbell’s Soup, a bottle of perfume, a handwritten note here and there. Local artist Madelyn Roehrig has been hanging out at the grave for four years now to document the stream of eclectic tributes to the artist that adorn his eternal home. On Monday, she hosted a birthday party for Andy in the cemetery, complete with birthday cake and belly-dancers. You can check out the project on Facebook and read about it here.
Andy Warhol: artist, collector, experimenter, pop philosopher, Pittsburgher. Why not dig into a little local history and find out more about him? You can start at the library.