Did You Know that Andy Warhol Went to Church Every Week?

Yup. After antics at Studio 54 he took himself to Catholic Church. Every. Single. Week.

After his father passed when Andy was 14, his older brother (only 17) became the “man of the house.” The two brothers had a solid relationship, talking every Sunday throughout adulthood.

And although he loved his family dearly and saw them often, he skipped the holidays with them (after his parents passed) in order to work at homeless shelters. His family didn’t even know this until he died. And I (unkindly) assumed that he died from debauchery. Nope, complications with gallbladder surgery.

He also refused to give homeless people cash for fear that they would spend it on anything BUT food. So instead, he established credit at cafes around NYC and sent folks there, saying to put it on Andy’s tab.

He Was so Much More Human than I Gave Him Credit For

Isn’t that an awful thing to say, to realize? In my ignorance and imagination his shock of white-blonde hair was all about partying. And that may have been significant. But so were his sentimentality, humor, and intelligence.

The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh PA does an amazing job of introducing us to Andy Warhol; not just his art, but his process, his obsessions, his principles. The most compelling way this is conveyed is through a seemingly regular talk given by his nephew. The familial love is more potent than the awe for having a famous uncle. And that in itself is telling.

The Draw of Celebrity

At 11 years old, Andy started writing celebrities to ask for their autograph. And he often got a response. The times were different.

I don’t know what facets of celebrity fascinated him, but once he had the opportunity to meet more famous people, he was quick to say that, “I don’t care much about beauties. What I really like are talkers.” THIS is one of the moments when I became enamored with the man behind the myth. For all his love of celebrity, which can be vapid and blank, he wanted depth more. He expected it from people. What pressure and what a gift he simultaneously gave to his guests.

Do you think that Warhol influenced America’s fascination with celebrity? (I’m sure someone has written a thesis about it.) My modest musings are that in his fascination and reproduction via pop art, he bred more fascination and in turn reproduction via mass media. Would he consider that an accomplishment? What would he think of tabloids?

His Art is about America

Warhol liked things that were distinctly American and also demonstrated commercialism, mass production, mass media. Enter the Campbell’s Soup Can, Brillo Pads, et al. He wanted something that everyone could relate to, to broaden art into something that more people can enjoy. Hence: Pop Art.

To me, the museum was more about America than about Warhol. Sure, it was through his eyes, but doesn’t everything have a lens?

He captured what was current and what was constant. Elvis and Popcicles.

Museum Postcards

Who decides which art gets put on a postcard? I’d like to have a talk with that person. The pieces that compel me are never available. I think they should let us order exactly which print we want; fine if it takes a week to arrive. That way there’s no cost to them to print every piece in the exhibit and those of us who like things outside of the popular pieces (Warhol pun intended) can get what inspires us.

Here’s a bit of what inspired me at the Andy Warhol Musuem; images courtesy of Bing.com.

warhol art

Eggs, Last Supper on Punching Bags, Dancing Lesson

The Process of Art

Through iPad exercises and time in the art studio, you can learn about silkscreen and the process of overlapping colors; repeating images. It was wonderful. An education and fun–isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?

Warhol's Birth of Venice

Left: my “masterpiece” via the iPad app; Top: Botticelli’s original; Bottom: Warhol’s adaptation

 

Art I made at the warhol musuem

I made this (can’t you tell?) in the studio. Rubber stamps colored with Crayola Markers.

Popcicle in the style of Warhol

I made this! I was happy with just the first layer of purple, but the studio assistants guided me not to fear layers. And they were right.

Warhol’s Humor

Sprinkled throughout the museum are delicious quotes from him. I pretend that I know him better because of it, and think that I would have liked him as a person.

My favorite quote: “I didn’t get married until 1964, when I got my first tape recorder.”

***

Which artist have you “gotten to know” by visiting their museum?

Stay tuned for an upcoming post about Warhol’s time capsules. Fascinating and inspiring!

Disclosure: thank you to Visit Pittsburgh for providing complimentary entry to the museum.

4 Responses

08.31.12

I agree – I rarely can find the postcards that inspire me the most from museum visits. (Though did get one recently at a Munch exhibit that made me happy.) And I really like your layered popcicles!!!

08.31.12

Never knew any of which you posted so once again learning great stuff. PS — Campbell’s is dedicating four honorary can designs to him this year for a limited time. Very cool!

08.31.12

I visited Howard Finster (folk artist) a few times as a kid with my folks and it was really amazing. He was hanging out and painting in his backyard and his garden was amazing. It is a much richer experience to be able to meet the artist and this seems like the closest you can get to meeting Warhol. I also learned a lot from this post- thanks!

[…] He went to Mass — often to daily Mass — sitting at the back, unnoticed, awkwardly embarrassed lest anyone should see he crossed himself in “the Orthodox way” — from right shoulder to left instead of left to right. He financed his nephew’s studies for the priesthood, and — according to his eulogy — was responsible for at least one person’s conversion to the Catholic faith.  […]

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