Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1928, but the city he's likely most associated with is none other than New York City.
He was 21 when he arrived in New York City and started working as an illustrator. He went on to become one of the Big Apple's most popular and fascinating figures.
Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola Jr. on Aug. 6, 1928.
Life Before NYC
Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Andy Warhol's paintings of Campbell's Soup cans are some of his most iconic pieces of art.
Warhol in NYC
Warhol arrived in New York City in 1949 to begin a job as an illustrator.
King of "Pop"
Warhol's art style took off in the 1950s as he created art out of everyday objects like Brillo boxes and Campbell's Soup cans.
“In early 1961, he really turned himself into one of the new pop artists of that moment,” “Warhol” biographer Blake Gopnick told Inside Edition Digital. “He had a big hand in creating the movement known as pop art, where artists took everyday objects, objects made commercially, and presented them as the subject of fine art. And that's really his discovery.”
In the early 1960s, Warhol's career took off and he opened what he called "The Factory," a studio and office space where he did his work and threw the most popular parties in the city.
Warhol at one of his infamous Factory parties with friends including LGBTQ+ icon Candy Darling.
The Factory was always bustling with people even when there were not parties.
Warhol, who was gay, was also considered a trailblazer for his LGBTQIA+ work. He featured many transgender models including Ultra Violet (pictured here), Marsha P. Johnson, and Candy Darling in an era when many major artists shunned the transgender community.
Despite being soft spoken, Warhol reportedly loved gossip and loved to talk on the phone with friends for hours about what was happening in the city and who was doing what.
Warhol and The Velvet Underground
Warhol managed The Velvet Underground and produced and designed their infamous 1967 debut album with Nico which featured a peel-away banana icon.
Warhol and the Rolling Stones
Warhol was close friends with the Rolling Stones. He designed the cover for their album, "Sticky Fingers," and the band would often stay at his home in Montauk on New York's Long Island. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were regulars at The Factory.
Warhol and Halston
Warhol and fashion designer Halston led very similar lives and rose to fame around the same time. Both men set New York City ablaze.
In the 1960s, Warhol began directing experimental films.
Warhol directed or produced nearly 150 films from 1963 to 1977.
Some of the films Warhol directed were "Sleep," "Kiss," "Batman Dracula," "Soap Opera," "Empire," and "Poor Little Rich Girl."
His Seal of Approval
“Just having [Andy Warhol] in our midst was like having some great messiah or wonderful shaman who seemed to know everything and was clued in. And we turned to for guidance, we turned to him for validation,” columnist Michael Musto told Inside Edition Digital.
Michael Musto and Warhol
“Andy Warhol is possibly the greatest artist of all time. He redefined what art is. He not only elevated drag and trans personalities to the realm of superstar, he changed what cinema can be, what art can be,” culture critic Michael Musto told Inside Edition Digital. “He took American capitalism and consumerism and spat it back in your face, by doing Campbell's Soup art, and he made a fortune while doing it. And at the same time, he conquered every medium there is and was a very inspiring person on the scene.”
“Andy always felt everyone on Earth will ultimately have their own TV show and be famous for 15 minutes,” Musto said.
The "Second" Factory
In early 1968, Warhol moved out of the Factory in Midtown and into a new place in Union Square. Many still called it his Factory.
Those wanting Warhol's approval flocked to The Factory. One such person was writer Valerie Solanas. In the late 1960s, she met Andy Warhol and tried to get the artist to produce her play, “Up Your A**.”
She gave Warhol one of her only copies of the play. The artist reportedly discarded it and laughed at how explicit it was. But Solanas would not be deterred. The more she followed up with him about it, the more bad he reportedly felt. He gave her money and even paid her $25 to act in his experimental film, “I, a Man.”
The more flippant Warhol became with Solanas, the more her paranoia heightened. When Warhol told Solanas he would give her a job as a typist at The Factory because of how well-typed her play was, she began believing he was trying to steal her property.
Eventually, Solanas took matters into her own hands.
On June 3, 1968, she arrived at Warhol's office in Union Square with a bag of guns.
Solanas shot Warhol in his office and fled the scene. He was taken to a nearby hospital and nearly died.
Solanas also shot London art critic Mario Amaya who also happened to be in the office that day. A bullet grazed his back and he was discharged from the hospital later that day.
Stop the Presses
Newspapers around the world covered the failed assassination attempt on Warhol.
Warhol was rushed to the hospital with a ruptured stomach, liver, spleen and lungs. It was unclear if he would make it.
Andy Warhol's Mom
Warhol's mother was photographed after she got the news of her son's shooting. She lived in his New York City apartment for many years before the shooting. It was there she cooked and took care of her son as he lived his busy life.
Three hours after the shooting, Solanas surrendered to the NYPD near Times Square, telling a traffic cop Warhol “had too much control over my life.”
“Tragically enough, Valerie Solanas became famous as a result of shooting Andy Warhol. But it also made him more famous in a way he didn't want. It did generate a lot of publicity, but it's not the kind of publicity he relished. He wanted things to be happy. He loved gossip. He liked being a bitchy queen, believe me, but that's about as mean as he got," Musto said.
Warhol would show off the scars he obtained from his life-saving surgery to photographer friends and document his body’s recovery himself.
After the shooting, Warhol's work got darker and he began painting guns.
In 1969, he founded "Interview Magazine" to discuss the trends of what was cool in New York City.
King of New York
“The shooting mercifully did not end Andy's life, but it did alter it irrevocably, because he was nervous and afraid ever since that happened, that it could happen again. And if he ever saw someone that reminded him even vaguely of Valerie, he was wary of them. He was terrified of another Valerie Solanas,” Musto said. “Andy was a public figure. He depended on going out, meeting people in restaurants, going to nightclubs. He was always wary from that point on, to try to prevent another shooting. It certainly could have happened again with another crackpot.”
Warhol continued to make his art and be a fixture of New York City nightlife as he recovered from the shooting.
Always the Nightcrawler
Warhol continued to be a fixture on New York City nightlife. Here he is at Studio 54 with members of Blondie.
Warhol remained a fixture on New York City's nightlife scene even as he got older.
King of New York
"He was the leader of the scene. He was a leader of the nightlife scene, the art scene, the magazines, everything,” Musto said. “He really was like the unofficial mayor of New York.”
Rest in Peace
Andy Warhol’s heart gave out on February 22, 1987 following gall bladder surgery. He was 58. Some say his death was a result of the shooting.
Warhol's death sent shockwaves through the New York art and nightlife scene. His death was felt around the city and it was covered by major media outlets throughout the world. Musto called it "The Death of Downtown," in a piece of the Village Voice.
Andy Warhol’s art continues to be popular today as it appears in museums around the world and on clothing and fashion accessories.