Tag Archives: Pop Art

Keith Haring

Keith Haring, visual artist and activist


Keith Haring (1958-1990), was a painter and visual artist, who later in his short life became a social activist. Though his imagery is lighthearted at first glance, his work is deeply imbued with political and sociological commentary, and has become accepted by many as one of the twentieth century’s definitive visual languages.

Foto©Roby Schirer

Haring was born to Allen and Joan Haring on May 4, 1958 in Reading, Pennsylvania. His father had been an amateur cartoonist, instilling a particular artistic vision in his son. Haring considered his earliest influences to be the work of Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss, and the Peanuts characters by Charles Schultz. Like many children raised in 1960’s America, he couldn’t help but be influenced by the wacky ensemble created by Warner Brothers Studios known as Looney Tunes, headed up by the inimitable Bugs Bunny.

As a teenager, Haring hitchhiked around the country, selling vintage T-shirts and exploring the counter-culture of the 1970’s. During this time he experimented with various drugs, as was part-and-parcel of the “hippie” lifestyle at the time. He returned to Pennsylvania, and attended the Ivy League School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh, but after having experienced the freedom of his previous years, found the prospect of becoming a commercial artist disheartening, and quit the school two semesters in, after reading “The Art Spirit” by Robert Henri. Henri published the book in 1929, but his teachings and inspiration are timeless, expounding that the happiness and wisdom to be gained through the arts are of critical importance to all, artists and otherwise. Henri’s concepts struck a deep chord with the young Haring who then started off on a path of his own making which soon led him to his first solo exhibition in 1978 at the Pittsburgh Arts and Crafts Center.

Keith Haring (center), 1978
Keith Haring (center), 1978

Later in 1978, Haring moved to New York City and enrolled in the School of Visual Arts, a creative center that fed the growing community of “alternative” artists. This new genre of art and artist developed outside the traditional museum/gallery context and came to blossom in the streets, subways, and underground clubs of New York. Through this tribe of creative minds, Haring became friends with visual artists such as Kenny Sharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as many other people in various fields, including performance art, graffiti, music. Haring had found this new arena exhilarating, embraced it wholeheartedly, and began organizing and participating in exciting exhibitions and performances at places like the famed Club 57 and other non-traditional venues.

Some of the delightful people at Club 57, including Keith Haring (second from left, top row)
Some of the delightful people at Club 57, including Keith Haring (second from left, top row)
Scharf and Haring (n/d)
Jean-Michel Basquiat playfully kisses Keith Haring on the forehead (n/d)
Haring and Basquiat (n/d)

Haring dabbled in every kind of artistic expression he was exposed to, like video, performance, installations, and collage, but his foremost passion was drawing. Inspired by Jean Dubuffet, Pierre Alechinsky, William Burroughs, Brion Gysin and the aforementioned Robert Henri, Haring came to embody the concept of the independent artist. His art refined itself over and over, eventually coming to fruition with his primary focus on the elegance and simplicity of line. He was also heavily influenced by Christo and Andy Warhol, in their fusing of art and life that resulted in not only a viewing public but a participatory one, and this too became an integral part of Haring’s artistic goals.

In 1980, he discovered a medium that served his purposes perfectly, that being unused advertising panels in New York subways. These panels were a matte surfaced black paper, which were exceptional grounds to work on in chalk. Despite having been arrested a number of times for “criminal mischief,” from 1980 to 1985, he created hundreds of his white chalk public drawings, at times creating up to 40 a day. After a time, regular subway commuters were very familiar with his easily identifiable creations as well as with the artist himself. This familiarity broke down the “us-them” barrier between artist and viewer, and Haring was regularly approached by subway riders who would engage the artist in conversation regarding his work and his life. The New York subway system proved to be a type of “laboratory,” as Haring called it, for working out his unique style and ideas.

Throughout the 1980’s his recognition grew and he participated in numerous exhibitions including a one-man show at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery, as well as international shows such as the Documenta 7 in Kassel, the Sao Paolo Biennial, and the Whitney Biennial. He was also the creator of numerous public projects that ranged from an animation for the Spectacular billboard in Times Square, set design for theaters and clubs, Swatch watch design, an ad campaign for Absolut Vodka, and many murals around the globe.

In April of 1986, Haring opened a retail store in Soho, called the Pop Shop. There he sold T-shirts, toys, buttons, posters, magnets and other items which bore his designs. Though there were those in the “art world” that belittled this endeavor, it was Haring’s mission to stay true to his public art mission, and through this shop was able to allow people a greater access to his work, and allowing for a much larger audience than would have been available through the traditional gallery system. The pushback from the academic side of art was far outweighed however by his friends, fans, and art world luminaries of the time, including Andy Warhol who was a great supporter of Haring’s work.

Warhol and Haring (1986, photo by Ron Galella)
Warhol and Haring (1986, photo by Ron Galella)

Using his artistic public forum, Haring created work of social and political commentary, such as his more than 50 murals constructed between 1982 and 1989, which were created for charities, hospitals, children’s day care centers and orphanages. In 1986 he created one of his most famous murals, “Crack Is Wack,” now a landmark on the FDR Drive in New York. Also in 1986, he created a mural marking the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, a delightful project in which approximately 900 children also participated. He held several drawing workshops for children in New York, Amsterdam, London, Tokyo and Bordeaux, and produced the images for public service campaigns for literacy programs and other worthwhile programs.

In 1989 he established the Keith Haring Foundation, after he was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988. The Foundation’s mission was to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations with the goal of bringing awareness and education to the public regarding the disease that was not very well understood at the time. The Foundation also was focused on assisting various children’s programs which had been such an important and joyous focus during his life. In his final years, he used his iconic imagery to speak about his own illness and to assist in generating activism and awareness, assisting in the quest to reverse the demonization of those afflicted by the disease and to help initiate a public demand for a cure.

At the age of 31, Keith Haring passed away at his home on February 16, 1990 as a result of complications brought on by his illness. His ashes were scattered in a field near his childhood home.

A memorial service was held on May 4 of that year, what would have been his 32nd birthday, at the Cathedral of St. John the Devine in New York City. Over a thousand people attended, including New York Mayor David N. Dinkins, actor Dennis Hopper, his younger sister Kay Haring, Yoko Ono (who claimed that Haring’s spirit had told her to steal his ashes and take them to Paris…for some reason…), performance artist Ann Magnuson, and his friend and fellow artist Tony Shafrazi. Amidst the somber memorial however, Magnuson and Shafrazi invoked the playfulness of their friend, improvising a mock award ceremony, nominating Haring for such things as “best poet,” “best video artist,” and “best go-go dancer.” They concluded by saying, “And the winner is….everyone who knew Keith Haring.”




Keith Haring

Digital collage portrait by Terri Maxfield Lipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series:
May 4, 2017
(click image for full resolution)

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Mark Ryden

Mark Ryden: painter, author, filmmaker

Mark Ryden (born January 20, 1963) is an American painter, part of the Lowbrow (or Pop Surrealist) art movement. He was dubbed “the god-father of pop surrealism” by Interview Magazine. Artnet named Ryden and his wife, the painter Marion Peck, the King and Queen of Pop Surrealism and one of the ten most important art couples in Los Angeles. Ryden’s aesthetic is developed from subtle amalgams of many sources, from Ingres, David and other French classicists to Little Golden Books. Ryden also draws his inspiration from anything that will evoke mystery: old toys, anatomical models, stuffed animals, skeletons and religious ephemera found in flea markets.

Ryden was born in Medford, Oregon on January 20, 1963, but was raised in Southern California, where his father made a living painting, restoring and customizing cars. He has two sisters and two brothers, one a fellow artist named Keyth Ryden, who works under the name KRK. Mark Ryden graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in 1987.

Ryden in 1983

From 1988 to 1998 Ryden made his living as a commercial artist. During this period he created numerous album covers including Michael Jackson’s Dangerous, the 4 Non Blondes’ Bigger, Better, Faster, More!, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ One Hot Minute, Jack Off Jill’s Clear Hearts Grey Flowers, and Aerosmith’s Love in an Elevator.

Album art for Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous”
Artwork for 4 Non Blondes’ “Bigger Better Faster More!”
Artwork for The Red Hot Chili Peppers' "One Hot Minute"
Artwork for The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “One Hot Minute”
Artwork for Jack Off Jill's "Clear Hearts Grey Flowers"
Artwork for Jack Off Jill’s “Clear Hearts Grey Flowers”

Also during this time, Ryden created book covers including Stephen King’s novels Desperation and The Regulators.

Coverart for Stephen King’s “Desperation”
Coverart for Stephen King’s “The Regulators”

He continued working as a commercial artist until his work was taken up by Robert Williams, a former member of the Zap Comix collective, who in 1994 put it on the cover of Juxtapoz, a magazine devoted to “lowbrow art”.

Coverart for Juxtapoz magazine, #17 1998

Ryden’s solo debut show entitled The Meat Show was in Pasadena, California in 1998. Meat is a reoccurring theme in his work. He observes the disconnect in our contemporary culture between meat we use for food and the living, breathing creature it comes from. “I suppose it is this contradiction that brings me to return to meat in my art.” According to Ryden, meat is the physical substance that makes all of us alive and through which we exist in this reality. All of us are wearing our bodies, which are like a garment of meat.

“Incarnation,” by Mark Ryden, 2009

A midcareer retrospective, Wondertoonel, which refers to a cabinet of curiosities or “Wunderkammer” (“wonder-room”), was co-organized in 2004 by the Frye Museum in Seattle and the Pasadena Museum of California Art. It was the best attended exhibition since the Frye Art Museum opened in 1952, and also broke attendance records in Pasadena. Debra Byrne, curator at the Frye at the time of Ryden’s exhibition, placed Ryden’s work in the camp of the carnivalesque—a strain of visual culture rooted in such works as Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. According to the Russian author and literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin (1895–1975), there are three forms of carnivalesque art — the ritualized spectacle, the comic composition and various genres of billingsgate (foul language) — all three of which are interwoven in Ryden’s work.

In 2007, The Tree Show opened at the Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles. In this exhibition Ryden explores the modern human experience of nature. Ryden explains, “Some people look at these massive trees and feel a sort of spiritual awe looking at them, and then other people just want to cut them up and sell them, they only see a commodity”. Ryden has created limited editions of his art to raise money for the Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy.

In 2009, Ryden’s exhibition The Snow Yak Show was shown at the Tomio Koyama Gallery in Tokyo. In this exhibition his compositions were more serene and suggestive of solitude, peacefulness and introspection.

In 2010, The Gay 90’s: Old Tyme Art Show debuted at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York. The central theme of the show referenced the idealism and sentimentalism of the 1890s while addressing the role of kitsch and nostalgia in our current culture. Here Ryden explores the line between attraction and repulsion to kitsch. According to The New York Times, “Ryden’s pictures hint at the psychic stuff that pullulates beneath the sentimental, nostalgic and naïve surface of modern kitsch.”

Also in 2010, Ryden and Peck collaborated on a fantastical project entitled Sweet Wishes, a short, stop-motion animated film, and is in this author’s opinion, one of the most wonderful things ever created.

Sweet Wishes tells the tale of Dolly, Baby and Bear and what happens when they are granted a wish from a magical fairy. That same year, the pair released the story in a book of photographs in a children’s picture-book format, in a style very much in keeping with that of both artists.

mark ryden sweet wishes
On May 13, 2014, Ryden released an album entitled The Gay Nineties Old Tyme Music: Daisy Bell, featuring Tyler the Creator, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Katy Perry, Stan Ridgway of Wall Of Voodoo, Danny Elfman, Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, Nick Cave, scarling., Kirk Hammett of Metallica, and Everlast, all giving a different rendition of the same song, “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two).” The proceeds from the signed and limited edition record benefited Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit that supports musical education in disadvantaged elementary schools. The video interpretations of the songs below, were delightfully created by Ryden. (See more at Ryden’s YouTube account here.)

From December 10th, 2016, through January 14, 2017, the Dorothy Circus Gallery in Rome, Italy, hosted the exhibition Mysterium Coniunctionis, a collaborative exhibition presenting very rare and limited edition prints from Ryden and his wife, Marion Peck. “Mysterium Coniunctionis” consisted of more than 20 artworks, mainly artist proofs, a collection that showcases Peck and Ryden’s peculiar and intriguing combinations. Their inviting compositions are executed with extremely complex, detailed artwork, that make visible a vision of society in which menace and comfort are inseparably interwoven.

See also:

Edited from:

Mark Ryden

Digital collage portrait by TMLipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series
January 20, 2017
Click image for full resolution

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Click the button below to let us know about typos, incorrect information, broken links, erroneous attribution,
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Special thanks to: Daily Artfixx, On This Day, WikipediaFind-A-Grave, A&E Bio, The Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery, Famous Birthdays, Encyclopedia Brittanica, and all the art history buffs that keep the internet full of wonderful information and images. 

Marion Peck

Marion Peck: painter

Marion Peck (born October 3, 1963) is a pop surrealist painter based in the United States. Her personal style is unique, slightly twisted, and utterly stupendous.

Marion Peck was born on October 3, 1963 in Manila, the Philippines, while her family was on a trip around the world. She grew up in Seattle, Washington, the youngest of four children.

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ArtScans CMYK

Peck received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1985, at age 18. Subsequently, she studied in two different MFA programs: Syracuse University in New York and Temple University in Rome, after which she lived in Italy for a few years, absorbing art, landscape, and food.

marion-peck-sacred-grove-2011 marion-peck-chicken-lady-p marion-peck_simplesimon
She became known for her work in Pop surrealism, and has exhibited her work in Paris, Rome, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. Her work has also been used for album covers, such as Waking the Mystics by Portland art rock group Sophe Lux.


On October 24, 2009 Peck married longtime partner Mark Ryden, also a well known pop surrealist painter. They now live in Los Angeles, in a fabulously designed home, featured in the online magazine “Curbed,” in August of 2016.

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In 2008 Peck released a book with Ryden called Sweet Wishes (available here). The story tells the tale of Dolly, Baby and Bear and what happens when they are granted a wish from a magical fairy. The story is based on a short film by Ryden and Peck (seen below, as posted on Ryden’s YouTube channel). The book features photographs created by the duo, instead of paintings or drawings.


For more information about Marion Peck, and to see a great deal more of her work, be sure to check out her lusciously gorgeous website, here.

Edited from:


Digital collage portrait by TMLipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series:

Marion Peck, October 3, 2016


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Click the button below to let us know about typos, incorrect information, broken links, erroneous attribution,
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Special thanks to: Daily Artfixx, On This Day, WikipediaFind-A-Grave, A&E Bio, The Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery, Famous Birthdays, Encyclopedia Brittanica, and all the art history buffs that keep the internet full of wonderful information and images. 

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol: artist of many genres

Andy Warhol (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) was an American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture, and advertisement that flourished by the 1960s. A successful magazine and ad illustrator who became a leading artist of the 1960s Pop art movements, he ventured into a wide variety of art forms, including performance art, filmmaking, video installations and writing, and controversially blurred the lines between fine art and mainstream aesthetics.


Born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928, in the neighborhood of Oakland in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His parents were working-class emigrants from Mikó (now called Miková), located in today’s northeastern Slovakia, part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Warhol’s father emigrated to the United States in 1914, and his mother joined him in 1921, after the death of Warhol’s grandparents. His father worked in a coal mine and his mother was an embroiderer. The family was Byzantine Catholic and attended St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church.  Andy Warhol had two older brothers—Pavol (Paul), the oldest, was born before the family emigrated, and Ján was born in Pittsburgh. Pavol’s son, James Warhola, became a successful children’s book illustrator.

Andy Warhol, c. 1933, age
Andy Warhol, 1933, age 5

At the age of 8, he contracted Sydenham’s Chorea (also known as St. Vitus’s Dance) a rare and sometimes fatal disease of the nervous system that left him bedridden for several months. His illness is believed to be a complication of scarlet fever which causes skin pigmentation blotchiness. As a result, he became a hypochondriac, developing a fear of hospitals and doctors. Often bedridden as a child, he became an outcast at school and bonded deeply with his mother, who did all she could to keep her son happy. It was during this initial illness that his mother, herself a skillful artist, gave him his first drawing lessons. Drawing soon became Warhol’s favorite childhood pastime. He was also an avid fan of the movies, and when his mother bought him a camera at the age of 9 he took up photography as well, developing film in a makeshift darkroom he set up in their basement. When he was confined to bed, he drew, listened to the radio and collected pictures of movie stars around his bed. Warhol later described this period as very important in the development of his personality, skill-set and preferences.

Andy Warhol, c. 1938 - age 10
Andy Warhol, c. 1940 – age 12

Warhol attended Holmes Elementary school and took the free art classes offered at the Carnegie Institute (now the Carnegie Museum of Art) in Pittsburgh. In 1942, at the age of 14, Warhol again suffered a tragedy when his father passed away from a jaundiced liver. He was so upset that he could not attend his father’s funeral, and he hid under his bed throughout the wake. Warhol’s father had recognized his son’s artistic talents, and in his will he dictated that his life savings go toward Andy’s college education. That same year, Warhol began at Schenley High School, and upon graduating, in 1945, he enrolled at the Carnegie Institute for Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) to study pictorial design.

Warhol at Carnegie - photo by classmate Philip Pearlstein
Warhol, age 19/20, at the Carnegie Institute – photo by classmate Philip Pearlstein
Warhol, on left eating ice cream, and classmates at the Carnegie Institute, c. 1947
Warhol, on left eating ice cream, and classmates at the Carnegie Institute, c. 1947

When he graduated from college with his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1949, Warhol moved to New York City to pursue a career as a commercial artist. It was also at this time that he dropped the “a” at the end of his last name to become “Andy Warhol.” He landed a job with Glamour magazine in September, and went on to become one of the most successful commercial artists of the 1950s. He won frequent awards for his uniquely whimsical style, using his own blotted line technique and rubber stamps to create his drawings.

Illustration by Andy Warhol for "Success is a Job in New York" from Glamour Magazine, September 1949
Illustration by Andy Warhol for “Success is a Job in New York” from Glamour Magazine, September 1949

In the late 1950s, he began devoting more attention to painting, and in 1961, he debuted the concept of “pop art”—paintings that focused on mass-produced commercial goods. In 1962, he exhibited the now-iconic paintings of Campbell’s soup cans. These small canvas works of everyday consumer products created a major stir in the art world, bringing both Warhol and pop art into the national spotlight for the first time.

"Campbell's Soup Cans," 1962
“Campbell’s Soup Cans,” 1962

British artist Richard Hamilton described pop art as “popular, transient, expendable, low cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, big business.” As Warhol himself put it, “Once you ‘got’ pop, you could never see a sign the same way again. And once you thought pop, you could never see America the same way again.”

Warhol, 1962
Warhol, 1962

Warhol’s other famous pop paintings depicted Coca-cola bottles, vacuum cleaners and hamburgers. He also painted celebrity portraits in vivid and garish colors; his most famous subjects include Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Mick Jagger and Mao Zedong. As these portraits gained fame and notoriety, Warhol began to receive hundreds of commissions for portraits from socialites and celebrities. His portrait “Eight Elvises” eventually resold for $100 million in 2008, making it one of the most valuable paintings in world history.

"Green Marilyn," 1962
“Green Marilyn,” 1962
"Eight Elvises," 1963
“Eight Elvises,” 1963

In 1964, Warhol opened his own art studio, a large silver-painted warehouse known simply as “The Factory.” The Factory quickly became one of New York City’s premier cultural hotspots, a scene of lavish parties attended by the city’s wealthiest socialites and celebrities, including musician Lou Reed.

Warhol at the Factory, c. 1964
Warhol at the Factory, c. 1964
Warhol and others, including Lou Reed (third from right)
Warhol and others, including Lou Reed (third from right)
Warhol and Factory entourage, including the lovely Edie Sedgwick
Warhol and Factory entourage, including the lovely Edie Sedgwick

Reed paid tribute to the hustlers and transvestites he’d met at The Factory with his hit song “Walk on the Wild Side“—the verses of which contain descriptions of individuals who were fixtures at the legendary studio/warehouse in the ’60s, including Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, “Little Joe” Dallesandro, “Sugar Plum Fairy” Joe Campbell and Jackie Curtis. Warhol was a not only a great friend of Reed’s, but also managed Reed’s brilliant, cutting-edge band, The Velvet Underground. The video below contains some rare footage of some of the Factory’s stars mentioned in Reed’s song.

Warhol, who clearly relished his celebrity, became a fixture at infamous New York City nightclubs like Studio 54 and Max’s Kansas City. Commenting on celebrity fixation—his own and that of the public at large—the artist observed, “more than anything people just want stars.” He also branched out in new directions, publishing his first book, Andy Warhol’s Index, in 1967.

Warhol at Studio 54 (note the sparkle-eyed Liza Minelli in the back)
Warhol at Studio 54 (note the sparkle-eyed Liza Minelli in the back)

On June 3, 1968, radical feminist writer Valerie Solanas shot Warhol and Mario Amaya, art critic and curator, at Warhol’s studio. Before the shooting, Solanas had been a marginal figure in the Factory scene. She authored in 1967 the S.C.U.M. Manifesto, a separatist feminist tract that advocated the elimination of men, and she had appeared in the 1968 Warhol film I, a Man. Earlier on the day of the attack, Solanas had been turned away from the Factory after asking for the return of a script she had given to Warhol. The script had apparently been misplaced.

Amaya received only minor injuries and was released from the hospital later the same day. Warhol was seriously wounded by the attack and barely survived: surgeons opened his chest and massaged his heart to help stimulate its movement again. He suffered physical effects for the rest of his life, including being required to wear a surgical corset.

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Solanas was arrested the day after the assault, after turning herself in to police. By way of explanation, she said that Warhol “had too much control over my life.” She was subsequently diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and eventually sentenced to three years under the control of the Department of Corrections.

Valerie Solanas, under arrest after the attempted murder of Andy Warhol

After the shooting, the Factory scene heavily increased security, and with the change in mood and atmosphere in the previously light-hearted and carefree environment, for many the “Factory 60s” ended.


Warhol had this to say about the attack: “Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there—I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it’s the way things happen in life that’s unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it’s like watching television—you don’t feel anything. Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it’s all television.”

Photo by Richard Avedon
Photo by Richard Avedon


After Solanas was released from the New York State Prison for Women in 1971, she stalked Warhol and others over the telephone and was arrested again in November 1971. She was subsequently institutionalized several times and then drifted into obscurity, becoming homeless and dying at the age of 52 of pneumonia.

Warhol's life and art were permanently altered by the rash act of a mentally ill person with a gun
Warhol’s life was permanently altered by the rash act of a mentally ill person with a gun

The attack had a profound impact on Warhol and for the rest of his life, Warhol lived in fear that Solanas would attack him again. “It was the Cardboard Andy, not the Andy I could love and play with,” said close friend and collaborator Billy Name. “He was so sensitized you couldn’t put your hand on him without him jumping. I couldn’t even hug him anymore, because it hurt him too much to even to touch him.”

Billy Name and Warhol, 1965
Billy Name and Warhol, 1965

In the 1970s, Warhol continued to explore other forms of media. He published such books as The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again) and Exposures. Warhol also experimented extensively with video art, producing more than 60 films during his career. Some of his most famous films include Sleep, which depicts poet John Giorno sleeping for six hours, and Eat, which shows a man eating a mushroom for 40 minutes.


Despite his continued success, the late 70’s and early 80’s brought Warhol criticism for becoming merely a “business artist”. In 1979, reviewers disliked his exhibits of portraits of 1970s personalities and celebrities, calling them superficial, facile and commercial, with no depth or indication of the significance of the subjects. In hindsight, however, some critics have come to view Warhol’s superficiality and commerciality as “the most brilliant mirror of our times,” contending that “Warhol had captured something irresistible about the zeitgeist of American culture in the 1970s.”

Warhol and friends, a rare outing to go rollerskating, 1980
Warhol and friends, a rare outing to go rollerskating, 1980

Warhol had a re-emergence of critical and financial success in the 1980s, partially due to his affiliation and friendships with a number of prolific younger artists, who were dominating the “bull market” of 1980s New York art, such as Julian Schnabel, David Salle and other so-called Neo-Expressionists, as well as members of the Transavantgarde movement in Europe, including Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi. Warhol also worked in sculpture and photography, and during this time period he also moved into television, hosting Andy Warhol’s TV and Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes on MTV.


It was his friendship and collaboration with Jean-Michel Basquiat however, was particularly powerful and brought him the most attention. Basquiat was a fast-rising, new star the art scene and Warhol was beginning to be considered “passé” by many, but their joint front gave Basquiat the artistic validation he needed and Warhol’s image was in turn, infused with a youthful, rebellious essence. Their impressive, collaborative collection, created by painting over each other’s work, entitled “Warhol, Basquiat: Paintings,” is still touring the world today.

"The Unfortunate Couple, 1" Warhol/Basquiat collaboration
“The Unfortunate Couple, 1” Warhol/Basquiat collaboration



The video below is an excerpt from the wonderful documentary of Jean-Michel, called “The Radiant Child.” In this clip (English with Spanish subtitles), the relationship between Warhol and Basquiat is explained in a beautiful way, albeit painful at the same time. The intensity between these two artists was profoundly strong.

Warhol’s personal life has been the subject of much debate and consideration. He is commonly believed to have been a gay man, and his art was often infused with homoerotic imagery and motifs. However, he claimed that he remained a virgin for his entire life.

Andy and friends, 1969
Andy and friends, 1969

Warhol’s life and work simultaneously satirized and celebrated materiality and celebrity. On the one hand, his paintings of distorted brand images and celebrity faces could be read as a critique of what he viewed as a culture obsessed with money and celebrity. On the other hand, his focus on consumer goods and pop-culture icons, as well as his own taste for money and fame, suggest a life in celebration of the very aspects of American culture that his work criticized. He spoke to this apparent contradiction between his life and work in his book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, writing that “making money is art and working is art, and good business is the best art.”



Warhol died unexpectedly in Manhattan, at 6:32 am, on February 22, 1987. According to news reports, he had been making good recovery from a routine gallbladder surgery at New York Hospital before dying in his sleep from a sudden post-operative cardiac arrhythmia. Prior to his diagnosis and operation, Warhol delayed having his recurring gallbladder problems checked, as he was afraid to enter hospitals and see doctors. His family sued the hospital for inadequate care, saying that the arrhythmia was caused by improper care and water intoxication. His family received an undisclosed sum of money.

Warhol’s body was taken back to Pittsburgh, by his brothers, for burial. The wake was at Thomas P. Kunsak Funeral Home and was an open-coffin ceremony. The coffin was a solid bronze casket with gold plated rails and white upholstery. Warhol was dressed in a black cashmere suit, a paisley tie, a platinum wig, and sunglasses. He was posed holding a small prayer book and a red rose. The funeral liturgy was held at the Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church on Pittsburgh’s North Side. The eulogy was given by Monsignor Peter Tay. Yoko Ono and John Richardson were speakers. The coffin was covered with white roses and asparagus ferns.


After the liturgy, the coffin was driven to St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery in Bethel Park, a south suburb of Pittsburgh. At the grave, the priest said a brief prayer and sprinkled holy water on the casket. Before the coffin was lowered, Paige Powell dropped a copy of Interview magazine, an Interview T-shirt, and a bottle of the Estee Lauder perfume “Beautiful” into the grave. Warhol was buried next to his mother and father. A memorial service was held in Manhattan for Warhol on April 1, 1987, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York.


Recently, a joint project between EarthCam, The Andy Warhol Museum and St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church has resulted in a very Warholian artistic creation. Alongside artist Madelyn Roehrig, the group has created a 24-hour a day livestream from Warhol’s grave, an annual Birthday Party at the site, and Roehrig’s photographic documentation of the site, as well as her website, AndyFigment.com.



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David Hockney

Today’s Artist Birthday: David Hockney

David Hockney, OM CH RA (born 9 July 1937) is an English painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer. An important contributor to the Pop art movement of the 1960s, he is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century.


David Hockney was born in Bradford, England, on July 9, 1937. He loved books and was interested in art from an early age, admiring Picasso, Matisse and Fragonard. His parents encouraged their son’s artistic exploration, and gave him the freedom to doodle and daydream.

Self portrait, 1954
Self portrait, 1954

Hockney attended the Bradford College of Art from 1953 to 1957. Then, because he was a conscientious objector to military service, he spent two years working in hospitals to fulfill his national service requirement. In 1959, he entered graduate school at the Royal College of Art in London alongside other young artists such as Peter Blake and Allen Jones, and he experimented with different forms, including abstract expressionism. He did well as a student, and his paintings won prizes and were purchased for private collections.

"Nude," 1957
“Nude,” 1957
"Skeleton" 1959
“Skeleton” 1959
"The Third Love," 1960
“The Third Love,” 1960

Hockney’s early paintings incorporated his literary leanings, and he used fragments of poems and quotations from Walt Whitman in his work. This practice, and paintings such as We Two Boys Clinging Together, which he created in 1961, were the first nods to his homosexuality in his art.

"We Two Boys,"
“We Two Boys Clinging Together,” 1961
"Doll Boy," 1961
“Doll Boy,” 1961
David Hockney with his parents, 1962
David Hockney with his parents, 1962

Because he frequently went to the movies with his father as a child, Hockney once quipped that he was raised in both Bradford and Hollywood. He was drawn to the light and the heat of California, and first visited Los Angeles in 1963. He officially moved there in 1966. The swimming pools of L.A. were one of his favorite subjects, and he became known for large, iconic works such as A Bigger Splash. His expressionistic style evolved, and by the 1970s, he was considered more of a realist.

"A Bigger Splash,"
“A Bigger Splash,” 1967
"Dive In," 1972
“Dive In,” 1972
"Swimming Pool," 1978
“Swimming Pool,” 1978

In addition to pools, Hockney painted the interiors and exteriors of California homes. In 1970, this led to the creation of his first “joiner,” an assemblage of Polaroid photos laid out in a grid. Although this medium would become one his claims to fame, he stumbled upon it by accident. While working on a painting of a Los Angeles living room, he took a series of photos for his own reference, and fixed them together so he could paint from the image. When he finished, however, he recognized the collage as an art form unto itself, and began to create more.

"Place Furstenberg Paris," 1985
“Place Furstenberg Paris,” 1985
"Pearblossom Highway," 1986
“Pearblossom Highway,” 1986

Hockney was an adept photographer, and he began working with photography more extensively. By the mid 1970s, he had all but abandoned painting in favor of projects involving photography, lithographs, and set and costume design for the ballet, opera and theater.

Hockney with camera, photo by Paul Joyce
Hockney with camera, photo by Paul Joyce
Hockney's set for "Prospero"
Hockney’s set for “Prospero”
Set and costume design for "The Rake's Progress"
Set and costume design for “The Rake’s Progress”

In the late 1980s, Hockney returned to painting, primarily painting seascapes, flowers and portraits of loved ones. He also began incorporating technology in his art, creating his first homemade prints on a photocopier in 1986.

"Still Life With Curtains," 1986
“Still Life With Curtains,” 1986

The marriage of art and technology became an ongoing fascination—he used laser fax machines and laser printers in 1990, and in 2009 he started using the Brushes app on iPhones and iPads to create paintings. A 2011 exhibit at the Royal Museum of Ontario showcased 100 of these paintings.

One of Hockney's iphone paintings from 2011
One of Hockney’s iphone paintings from 2009-11

In a 2011 poll of more than 1,000 British artists, Hockney was voted the most influential British artist of all time. He continues to paint and exhibit, and advocates for funding for the arts.


Edited from:

TML Arts aims for accuracy in content and functionality in posts.
Click the button below to let us know about typos, incorrect information, broken links, erroneous attribution,
or additional relative information.

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Special thanks to: Daily Artfixx, On This Day, Wikipedia,
Find-A-Grave, A&E Bio, The Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery, Famous Birthdays, Encyclopedia Brittanica, and all the art history buffs that keep the internet full of
wonderful information and images.