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The name of American artist Andy Warhol is all but synonymous with Pop art, the movement he helped shape in the 1960s. He is known for his clever appropriation of motifs and images from popular advertising and commercials, which he integrated into graphic, vibrant works that utilized mass-production technologies such as printmaking, photography and silkscreening.
Later in his career, Warhol expanded his oeuvre to include other forms of media, founding Interview magazine and producing fashion shoots and films on-site at the Factory, his world-famous studio in New York.
Born and educated in in Pittsburgh, Warhol moved to New York City in 1949 and built a successful career as a commercial illustrator. Although he made whimsical drawings as a hobby during these years, his career as a fine artist began in the mid-1950s with ink-blot drawings and hand-drawn silkscreens. The 1955 lithograph You Can Lead a Shoe to Water illustrates how he incorporated in his artwork advertising styles and techniques, in this case shoe commercials.
As a child, Warhol was often sick and spent much of his time in bed, where he would make sketches and put together collections of movie-star photographs. He described this period as formative in terms of his skills and interests. Indeed, Warhol remained obsessed with celebrities throughout his career, often producing series devoted to a famous face or an object from the popular culture, such as Chairman Mao or Campbell’s tomato soup. The 1967 silkscreen Marilyn 25 embodies his love of bright color and famous subjects.
Warhol was a prominent cultural figure in New York during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. The Factory was a gathering place for the era’s celebrities, writers, drag queens and fellow artists, and collaboration was common. To this day, Warhol remains one of the most important artists of the 20th century and continues to exert influence on contemporary creators.
Lillian Bassman was born in 1917 to an immigrant family from Russia who settled in Brooklyn, New York. They were open-minded intellectuals, and their daughter was raised free to live her life as an independent woman. Bassman originally worked as a textile designer and fashion illustrator before joining the esteemed Alexey Brodovitch at Harper’s Bazaar. She soon moved into photography and her work appeared regularly in the magazine throughout the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Bassman’s fashion photography is unique, and she achieved the effect seen in her prints through a variety of darkroom techniques including the bleaching of images.
One of the most prolific and revolutionary artists the world has ever seen, Pablo Picasso had a tremendous impact on the development of 20th-century modern art. Although he is best known for his association with the Cubist movement, which he founded with Georges Braque, Picasso’s influence extends to Surrealism, neoclassicism and Expressionism.
“Every act of creation is, first of all, an act of destruction,” the Spanish artist proclaimed. In Picasso’s Cubist paintings, he emphasizes the two-dimensionality of the canvas, breaking with conventions regarding perspective, foreshortening and proportion. Picasso was inspired by Iberian and African tribal art. One of his most famous pre-Cubist works is Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), a painting considered immoral and shocking at the time for its depiction of nude women whose faces resemble Iberian tribal masks.
Picasso made many portraits in this style, most often of the women in his life, their expressively colored faces composed of geometric shards of surface planes. In Woman in a Hat (Olga), 1935, he painted his first wife as an assemblage of abstract forms, leaving the viewer to decipher the subject through the contrasting colors and shapes. Picasso was a tireless artist, creating more than 20,000 paintings, drawings, prints, ceramics and sculptures. Tracing his life’s work reveals the progression of modern art, on which he had an unparalleled influence.