"My fascination with letting images repeat and repeat - or in film's case 'run on' - manifests my belief that we spend much of our lives seeing without observing.”
- Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, perhaps the most recognized artist of the late 20th century, began working as a commercial illustrator in the early 1950’s. Transitioning into fine art, Warhol produced one of the most iconic bodies of contemporary work, defining Pop Art and influencing popular culture at the same time. His imagery put forth in repetitive fashion the striking glamour, intrigue and underbelly of urban society. Highlighting, and perhaps contributing to their ascension, were icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis Presley, juxtaposed with such series as Warhol's car crashes, electric chairs and portraits of Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong. Warhol understood the notion that, “in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” Forty years later, as social media drives much of the content we consume, Warhol’s prediction has become a pervasive reality.
In addition to his groundbreaking imagery, Warhol also re-imagined the concept of the artist’s studio, making work in what he called The Factory. The Factory was a communal space where artisans, musicians and actors would gather regularly. Works were produced with the aid of mechanical processes such as silkscreen printmaking and allowed Warhol to blur the lines between fine art and commercial production. The Factory challenged the notion of what constitutes an original work of art and what role the artist should play in its creation.
Warhol's impact on the artists that would follow after him was profound. Many contemporary artists living and working today (including Narrative artists such as Thorpe, Pierson and Everhart) cite Warhol as one of the most important influences on their work. Coincidentally, in 1959 as Warhol was transitioning from commercial work to fine art, his last commercial project was illustrating six stories for Doubleday publishing to be included in their Best in Children’s Books series. These little known projects provide a glimpse into the artist's progression and may have been influenced in some way by Narrative artist Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss), who in 1957 wrote two of the most widely recognized children’s books in the english language, The Cat in the Hat and The Grinch.