“They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” — Andy Warhol
Truly one of the artistic giants of the 20th century was Andy Warhol (1928-87), whose influence on art, music, film & mass media was revolutionary in the 1960’s and remains with us today. Indeed, humanity needs to face this genius honestly and deal with the depth of his work– in order to understand the obstacles capitalism places in our paths towards emancipation.
Warhol was dangerous & subversive. He was (and still is) viewed as an enemy by the ruling elite, which explains why his films have been ignored & trivialized, and remain largely unseen by the public. Most can only be viewed at his Carnegie museum in Pittsburgh.
The Andy Warhol Museum is the largest museum in the country dedicated to a single artist, and its collection includes: 900 paintings; approximately 100 sculptures; nearly 2,000 works on paper; more than 1,000 published and unique prints; and 4,000 photographs. The film & video collection includes 60 feature films, 200 of Warhol’s Screen Tests, and more than 4,000 videos. 
Any exposure to Warhol is welcome these days, and the Portland Art Museum is holding a print exhibition through January 1, 2017, which attempts to make sense of an immense body of creativity– and largely succeeds.
Briefly, Pittsburgh-born Andek Warhola was a sickly child with a deep attachment to his mother. He acquired the name Warhol when he was mis-credited in one of his early advertisement pieces– and assumed it from then on. Warhol was gay, in an era when being gay was unacceptable to elite taste. He was also extremely insecure about his body, and enjoyed making other uncomfortable in their own skin.
A great example of this in his art are his films, which are awkward to watch, and unlike anything film makers had ever attempted. The point was making the viewer feel self-conscious, and thus becoming part of the film. This powerful & revolutionary concept changed film & mass-media production forever.
Warhol first exploded into mass consciousness with his Campbell’s Soup Can paintings in 1962. Even his prints in a series (pictured below) make a powerful statement on nutrition, marketing & food distribution. The original ‘Soup Can’ series is in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
Andy Warhol was famous for making other people famous. Nowhere was this more apparent than in his Factory of ‘Superstars’ and in his collaboration with the Velvet Underground. The Exploding Plastic Inevitable was a multimedia production by Warhol, featuring his films, performing dancers, and the music of the Velvets– who were Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker. Everything is meticulously detailed in this must-read rock biography:
Andy Warhol’s best biography is also written by Victor Bockris, with whom he collaborated in television projects, as well as Interview magazine.
In summary, Andy Warhol & Pablo Picasso are rightly considered to be the two greatest artistic geniuses of the 20th century. Picasso finally made his peace with the art world, and became the wealthiest painter in human history. Warhol was murdered in a hospital bed in Manhattan, by a philistine ruling clique that cares only about maintaining their privilege, and nothing for art and human culture. The capitalists may have killed Andy Warhol in person, but they will never extinguish the power of his art.
Update July 5, 2108:
Originally posted as a comment to this well-written WSWS article. At issue are the ISO, and right-ring identity politics.
On June 3, 1968, Valerie Solanas went to The Factory, where she found Andy Warhol, and shot at him three times, the first two shots missing and the third wounding Warhol. She also shot art critic Mario Amaya and attempted to shoot Warhol’s manager, Fred Hughes, point blank, but the gun jammed. Solanas then turned herself in to the police. She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and pleaded guilty to “reckless assault with intent to harm”, serving a three-year prison sentence, including treatment in a psychiatric hospital. After her release, she continued to promote the SCUM Manifesto, and died in San Francisco in 1988 of pneumonia at age 52.
Andy Warhol was murdered in 1987 by the New York Hospital, after having emergency gall bladder surgery. Billy Name (Linich) was a photographer, filmmaker, lighting designer, and archivist for The Factory from 1964 to 1970. The Velvet Underground’s album art (White Light/White Heat & The Velvet Underground) are his shots. Billy Linich recounted the above story of Warhol’s murder in every interview he ever gave, up until his death in 2016.
The Factory was Andy Warhol’s creation after his astonishing Soup Cans & Mass Media Sculptures– which changed everything. The Factory was a collection of talent, junkies & queers that Warhol used for film, photography and music. Their collaboration with the Velvets was the Exploding Plastic Inevitable (EPI), a ground-breaking multi-media phenomenon– featuring the VU & Nico, with Andy Warhol’s films being projected over them playing live. It blew everyone’s mind, and was shut down by the authorities as quickly as possible. The famous banana cover from their debut album is Andy’s painting.
Elite NYC figures like Bob Dylan were jealous, and wanted in. Warhol’s direction was the most revolutionary of any artist of his era, with the only possible exception being John Lennon. Warhol understood the media better than Lennon. Warhol was also a deviant due to his homosexuality, which wasn’t allowed to be mainstream back then. The bottom line is the Velvet Underground’s powerful music & Andy’s genius made everything go, as far as revolutionary art and creative energy! As far as sales and commercial impact; the Velvets were blacklisted from the start. Songs like “Heroin” & “Venus in Furs” are unforgivable to the moralists who control the industry machinery.
By 1970, the Factory & the Velvet Underground were no more. Other notable Factory members included: Edie Sedgwick, Ingrid Superstar, Gerard Malanga, Ronnie Cutrone, Candy Darling, Eric Emerson, Danny Fields, Paul Morrissey, Mary Woronov, and many others. Andy Warhol was famous for making other people famous, which proves real genius.