Andy Warhol, 58, a writer, philosopher, film-maker and artist whose portraits of soup cans, celebrities and the social scene made him perhaps the best-known figure in what has come to be known as pop art, died yesterday at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in New York City after a heart attack.
A hospital spokesman said Warhol was admitted to the hospital Friday and underwent gallbladder surgery Saturday. The spokesman said that "his postoperative condition was stable" and that his death was "clearly unexpected."
Warhol became famous in the early 1960s for his now-legendary artworks featuring Campbell Soup cans. Later works, using photography and silk-screening techniques, included portraits of everyday objects and such celebrities as Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. When critics attacked his work as boringly unoriginal, he would reply that he was not a "creator" of art but a "recreator."
Critics questioned whether he wanted his work, representing such everyday items as Brillo pads, to satirize commercial vulgarity or whether he wanted to glorify commercial America. Were those soup cans lampooning success, or were they symbols of an affluent society? To some, Warhol used soup cans as Cezanne used apples. At least to Warhol, soup was good art.
He referred to his New York art studio as "the factory" and turned out pictures, often a huge number of prints, all with tiny variations. He championed the mechanics of his art, saying that by working with photographs he mechanically reproduced what was "real."
By the early 1960s, he was a recognized leader of the art avant-garde, hailed by some as an opponent of abstract expressionism and a man who used some of the tools of Dadaism for a new art form.
"Andy Warhol was a serious artist whose posture was unseriousness," said William Rubin, director of the department of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. "He was a pioneer of image-appropriating pop art, a...