Andy Warhol dies

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, and the implications of his work proved essential to the subsequent postmodernist movement."

Last year, one of his works, a painting of 200 one-dollar bills, sold for $385,000 at an auction in New York City. He once said that he often drew works featuring money because an art teacher had once told him to draw what he liked best in the world. Warhol used the same advice when it came to soup: He claimed that before he drew his first soup can, he had lunched on soup for 20 years.

His life, if it did not imitate his art, at least mirrored it. He appeared shy, often spoke in a near-whisper with a hand over his mouth, seemingly hiding behind a blond wig and large glasses. Yet he sought publicity, courted attention and basked his pale form in an entourage of admirers and social figures. He had managed an electronic rock band called the Velvet Underground, made unique forays into the world of print, danced the night away at discos and made cameo appearances in movies. At the time of his death, he was host of an MTV cable program called "Andy Warhol's Fifteen Minutes" -- a reference to his famous comment that in the future, everyone would be famous for 15 minutes.

After achieving fame and fortune in the fickle world of art, he began meeting other challenges. He had always been fascinated with home movies and began to devote the bulk of his time to making the kind of movies that big Hollywood studios were not making anymore, if they ever had. These included "Sleep," a six-hour epic in which an unmoving camera watched a man sleep, "Empire," in which his camera focused on a facade of the Empire State Building for eight hours, and "Eat," which showed a man eating a mushroom.

Some of Warhol's acting troupe achieved stardom of a sort. They included Baby Jane Holzer, who appeared in Warhol's 1964 film "Wee Love of Life," in which he introduced plot and some action. It also was his first film with sound. Holzer also appeared in his "13 Most Beautiful Girls," which actually had 14 girls, but who was counting? Warhol remarked that he found the finished product so dull that he thought nobody would notice the error.

Another of his actresses, the socialite Edie Sedgwick, portrayed herself spending a day at her East Side apartment. Warhol allowed that he found this work dull also. His worst luck with actresses was undoubtedly with Valerie Solanis. In 1968, she shot Warhol at his office with a .32-caliber revolver, puncturing his lungs, spleen, liver and stomach.

Another of his films "Blue Movie," was a 140-minute film that involved 130 minutes of philosophical discussion followed by 10 minutes of action that justified the movie's title. "The Chelsea Girls," a 1966 movie, has been referred to as "The Sound of Music" of the underground. In a pseudo-documentary style, it examines the mores of the sexually inventive and the lives of drug addicts. It was screened for the Cannes Film Festival.

Yet criticism seldom seemed to bother Warhol. However controversial his work, whether in film or art, it gained success. The Whitney Museum filled an entire floor with his work in a 1979 exhibit. He had one-man art shows on at least three continents, and his films were eventually shown in some mainstream theaters.

His publishing ventures included Andy Warhol's Interview magazine and "Andy Warhol's Philosophy," a 451-page book of transcribed interview in which he is questioned by "Ondine," a friend of Warhol's who was under the influence of amphetamines during the interview.

Warhol has said that the meaning of his work is that he does not care about anything.

He was born Andrew Warhola near Pittsburgh to Czech immigrant parents. In interviews, Warhol variously cited 1927 and 1928 as his year of birth, with Reuter and United Press International reporting that 1927 was the year. His father, who died when Warhol was a child, had worked as a coal miner. After graduating from what is now Carnegie-Mellon University, Warhol worked at odd jobs before moving to New York City in his twenties.

As an illustrator for advertisements, he won the 1957 Art Director's Club Medal for a giant shoe ad. He also is remembered for a 1961 Lord & Taylor department store window display he did using blown-up paintings of the Dick Tracy comic strip. By 1959, his first serious work was being exhibited at the Bodley Gallery in New York.

His work has been described as "banality endowed with an air of mystery." Portions of his life story were no less mysterious and, perhaps, beneath a veneer of artistic individuality and hedonism, perhaps no less banal. He used to baffle reporters with contradictory accounts of his birth, education and early life. But in the mid-1960s, his mother gave a reporter an interview, revealing not only that he shared his Lexington Avenue apartment with her, but also that he attended mass every Sunday.

Warhol died in New York City at 6:32 a.m. 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 hyperhydration.

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 also made an appearance. 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. Weeks later a memorial service was held in Manhattan for Warhol on April 1, 1987 at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York.
Warhol's will dictated that his entire estate, with the exception of a few modest legacies to family members, would go to create a foundation dedicated to the "advancement of the visual arts". Warhol had so many possessions that it took Sotheby's nine days to auction his estate after his death; the auction grossed more than US$20 million. His total estate was worth considerably more, due in no small part to shrewd investments over the years.
In 1987, in accordance with Warhol's will, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts was founded. The Foundation not only serves as the official Estate of Andy Warhol, but it also has a mission "to foster innovative artistic expression and the creative process" and is "focused primarily on supporting work of a challenging and often experimental nature."The Artists Rights Society is the U.S. copyright representative for the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for all Warhol works with the exception of Warhol film stills. The U.S. copyright representative for Warhol film stills is the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Additionally, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has agreements in place for their image archive. All digital images of Warhol are exclusively managed by Corbis, while all transparency images of Warhol are managed by Art Resource.
The Andy Warhol Foundation released its 20th Anniversary Annual Report as a three-volume set in 2007: Vol. I, 1987–2007; Vol. II, Grants & Exhibitions; and Vol. III, Legacy Program. The Foundation remains one of the largest grant-giving organizations for the visual arts in the U.S.

One of Andy Warhol’s last public appearances was in Italy, when he attended the opening of the exhibition his Last Supper Series on January 22, 1987. Suffering from a gall bladder infection, he returned to the United States. In the days to follow, Warhol went to see Linda Li of Li Chiropractic Healing Arts Clinic for a massage, which didn’t do his gall bladder any good. Because of the severe pain he experienced following the massage, Warhol consulted with Dr. Linda Burke on Saturday, February 14, 1987. He got a sonogram that indicated that the gall bladder was enlarged.

On February 19th, Warhol went to see his physician, Dr. Denton S. Cox, to get a second sonogram, which showed similar results.

Andy was living at 57 East 66th Street, in Manhattan. Here is his house, and there is now a plaque honoring Andy, in the front of it.

Even though hospitals really freaked Warhol in a big bad way, he checked into the New York Hospital on Friday, February 20 under the name of Bob Robert. He knew his Blue Cross number by heart. Surgery was performed the next day, from 8:45 am to 12:10 pm (EST). After the surgery, Warhol spent 3 hours in a recovery room, then he was taken to a private room, which was located on the 12th floor of Baker Pavilion. He watched television during the evening and called his housekeeper, Paige Powell in the evening.

At 4 am on February 22nd, Warhol's blood pressure was recorded as 'stable.'

At 5:45 am, Warhol turned blue and his pulse had weakened. His private nurse could not wake him, and she called for assistance. The hospital staff tried for 45 minutes to resuscitate him. They even tried to insert a tube down his windpipe but had difficulty because rigor mortis had started. Andy Warhol was pronounced dead at 6:21 am on February 22, 1987. He was 58 years old.

An open-casket ceremony was held at Thomas P. Kunsak Funeral Home in Pittsburgh. Warhol's was solid bronze with gold plated rails and white upholstery. He was wearing a black cashmere suit, colourful paisley tie, a platinum wig, and sunglasses. He was holding a small prayer book and a red rose. The funeral service was held at the Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church. The coffin was covered with white roses and asparagus ferns. After the funeral service, the coffin was driven to St. John Divine Cemetery in Bethel Park.

At the grave site, the priest said a brief prayer and sprinkled holy water three times over the casket. Before it was lowered, Paige Powell dropped a copy of Interview magazine, an Interview t-shirt, and a bottle of Estee Lauder perfume into the grave. His tombstone was a marble stone with Warhol's name and dates of birth and death.