September 20th, 2006
Andy Warhol
A Documentary Film

Photo of Andy Warhol by Gretchen Berg.

Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928, in a two-room shack-like apartment at 73 Orr Street in the working class neighborhood of Soho in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Andrej Warhola and Julia Zavacky Warhola. The youngest of three sons, Andrew attended Holmes Elementary School and Schenley High School, and entered Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh in 1945, where he studied with Balcomb Greene, Robert Lepper, Samuel Rosenberg, and others. He experimented with his name, signing holiday cards “André,” and dropping the final “a” from his family name. He graduated in June 1949 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Pictorial Design.

Soon after graduating, Warhol moved to New York City to pursue a career as a commercial artist. His first work appeared in Glamour magazine in September 1949. Throughout the 1950s, he became one of the most successful illustrators of his time, and won numerous awards for his work from the Art Directors Club and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. His clients included Tiffany & Co., The New York Times, I. Miller Shoes, Bonwit Teller, Columbia Records, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Fleming-Joffe, NBC, and others. Much of his commercial work was based on photographs and other source images, a process he would use for the rest of his life. He also employed the delightfully quirky handwriting of his mother Julia in many of his works in this period. She won a professional award for her lettering on the LP The Story of Moondog in 1958, and Warhol published a book of her drawings, Holy Cats, in 1957. She was always credited as “Andy Warhol’s Mother.” She left Pittsburgh in 1952 to join her son, and they lived together until about 1971. Warhol painted memorial portraits of her after her death; he also had made a film and shot videotapes of her.

In 1956 Warhol traveled around the world for several weeks, visiting many countries in Asia and Europe. In the late 1950s he began to devote more energy to painting. He made his first Pop paintings, based on comics and ads, in 1961, and then a series of Campbell’s Soup Cans in 1962. These created a sensation in the art world and launched Warhol as a celebrity. Except for a brief period in the mid-1960s, he would continue to paint until the end of his life. He also extended his talents into other fields such as film, publishing, writing, television, and music. By the time of his death, he was one of the most prolific and well-known artists the world had ever seen.

Warhol had a life-long fascination with Hollywood. In 1962 he began a large series of celebrity portraits, including Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Elizabeth Taylor. He also began his series of “death and disaster” paintings at this time – images of electric chairs, suicides, and car crashes.

In 1963 he began to make films, and created many classics of avant-garde cinema over a five-year period, including Sleep (1963), Empire (1963), Kiss (1963-64), and The Chelsea Girls (1966). Warhol made about 600 films from 1963 until 1976, ranging from almost 500 short Screen Tests (4-minute portrait films, from 1963-1966), to **** (a/k/a Four Stars, 1967-68), a twenty-five-hour long film. Between 1968 and 1976, Paul Morrissey directed most of his films, while Warhol was the producer.

Warhol’s first exhibition of sculptures was held in 1964, with hundreds of replicas of large supermarket product boxes, including Brillo Boxes, Heinz Boxes, Del Monte Boxes, Mott’s Boxes, and Kellogg’s Boxes. By this time, his new studio, painted silver and known as the Factory, was becoming the place to be in New York; parties held there were mentioned in gossip columns throughout the country. By the mid-1960s he was a frequent presence in magazines such as Newsweek, Time, and Esquire.

In 1965, Warhol was the first artist to exhibit video as art. He loved its immediacy, and eventually filled about 2500 videotapes, including Factory Diaries, Phoney, and others.

At an exhibition of his Flowers paintings in Paris in 1965, Warhol publicly announced that he was retiring from painting to pursue filmmaking, although he continued to make editions of fine art prints, and also sculptures. However, he began painting again in 1966. He broadened his activities into the realm of performance art with a traveling multimedia show called The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, which featured the rock and roll band The Velvet Underground. The EPI has been credited by some with the invention of the psychedelic light show as nightclub entertainment. The Velvet Underground went on to become one of the most influential rock bands in history. During this time, Warhol briefly operated a dance club in Manhattan called the Gymnasium, which featured exercise equipment on the dance floor.

In 1966 Warhol exhibited Cow Wallpaper and Silver Clouds at the Leo Castelli Gallery. The Cows were Day-Glo colored, and the Clouds were floating silvery balloons shaped like pillows. Warhol covered the exterior of Stockholm’s Moderna Museet with Cow Wallpaper in 1968.

On June 3, 1968, Valerie Solanas, a writer who had appeared in Warhol’s film I, a Man (1967), came into the studio and shot Warhol in the chest, apparently because of a play she had written. He recovered from the near-fatal shooting after a five-hour operation. While recuperating he painted a large series of portraits of Happy Rockefeller, the wife of the Governor of New York.

Warhol self-published a large series of artist’s books in the 1950s, but his first mass-produced book, Andy Warhol’s Index (Book), was published in 1967. He later published a, a novel (1968), Blue Movie (1970), THE Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again) (1975), POPism (1980), Exposures (1979), Children’s Book (1983), and America (1985). Party Book (1988), and The Diaries of Andy Warhol (1989) were published posthumously, with the latter becoming a scandalous best-seller. Beginning with a, the technique for most of his writings was transcribed recorded conversations. This method was also used for Warhol’s stage play, Pork, produced in London and New York in 1971. In total, he recorded about 3400 audiotapes.

Warhol closed the 1960s with an unusual exhibition, Raid the Icebox I, which he was invited to choose from the collection of the Rhode Island School of Design’s museum. Rather than the usual masterpieces, Warhol chose damaged paintings in the process of being repaired, the entire collection of historical footwear and parasols, and other unexpected items. At the time, he was developing a very keen eye for antiques; among his discoveries were French Art Deco designs, Native American blankets and pottery, and American Folk Art and cookie jars. Also in that year he co-founded Interview, a magazine devoted to film, fashion, and popular culture that continues to this day. Warhol’s quote, “In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes,” is known throughout the world, and originated in about 1967 or 1968. Interview testified to Warhol’s lifelong obsession with film stars and other contemporary celebrities.

In 1971 Warhol co-designed the cover for The Rolling Stones’ album Sticky Fingers, featuring a close-up photo of the torso of a man wearing blue jeans with a real working zipper. The design was nominated for a Grammy Award. He designed many music LP covers before, beginning in 1949, but in the 1970s he received many more commissions for these designs, which usually consisted of a painted portrait of the recording artist. His commissioned portrait paintings began in 1963, with portraits of the collector Ethel Scull, entertainer Bobby Short, and others.

Throughout the 1970s, Warhol frequently socialized with celebrities such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Truman Capote, both of whom had been important early subjects in his art. He started to receive dozens-and soon hundreds-of commissions for painted portraits from wealthy socialites, music and film stars, and other clients. He was a regular partygoer at Studio 54, the famous New York disco, along with celebrities such as fashion designer Halston, entertainer Liza Minnelli, and Bianca Jagger.

The 1970s was also a period of experimentation for Warhol. He made 3 versions of a sculpture called Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall) for the Osaka World’s Fair in 1970. These consist of a large shower of water in front of a wall of 3-D lenticular prints of daisies. In the mid-1970s he experimented with an idea for an Invisible Sculpture, made of motion detectors and loud sirens. In 1978, he produced a large series of works called Oxidation paintings, made with human urine on canvases covered with metallic paint. The chemical interaction produced beautiful abstract shapes, in contrast to their shocking medium. Warhol also worked on several ideas for television shows at this time, as well as art works in video, including Water and Fight.

In 1974, Warhol started a series of Time Capsules, cardboard boxes that he filled with the materials of his everyday life, including mail, photos, art, clothing, collectibles, etc. The Time Capsules eventually numbered over 600, and are now an archival goldmine of his life and times. From the 1970s onward, Warhol continued to produce a prolific number of paintings, prints, photographs, and drawings: Mao, Ladies and Gentlemen, Skulls, Hammer and Sickles, Shadows, Guns, Knives, Crosses, Dollar Signs, Zeitgeist, Camouflage, and many more, culminating in his series of Last Supper paintings, which were shown in Milan in early 1987. He returned to the idea of wallpaper as art, creating Mao (1974), Self-Portrait (1978), and Fish (1984) wallpapers. Fish was part of an environmental work, Paintings for Children, in which his small paintings of Toys were hung at a child’s eyelevel on the wallpaper. His Sewn Photos (multiple prints of identical photos sewn together in a grid) were exhibited in New York in January 1987.

In the mid-1980s his television shows, Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes and Andy Warhol’s TV, aired nationally on MTV and on Madison Square Garden cable television in New York. He created work for Saturday Night Live, and appeared in an episode of The Love Boat. He produced music videos for rock bands such as The Cars, and signed with the modeling agencies Ford and Zoli. He modeled in fashion shows, and in numerous print and television ads for Sony, TDK, Vidal Sassoon, and many other companies.

In 1984, Warhol collaborated with young artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, and Keith Haring on artworks. Warhol returned to painting with a brush in these, briefly abandoning the silkscreen method he had used exclusively since 1962. Nearly all of Warhol’s works in every medium were created with the help of friends (beginning with writer Ralph Ward, and the crowd at Serendipity 3 café in the 1950s), paid assistants (beginning with Vito Giallo and Nathan Gluck in the 1950s), and managers such as Fred Hughes. Of all of these, the best known are the Superstars – the “underground” actors of his films of the 1960s such as Taylor Mead, Baby Jane Holzer, Ingrid Superstar, Brigid Polk, Edie Sedgwick, Ondine, Viva, Joe Dallesandro, Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis, and many others.

Warhol died in New York City on February 22, 1987, due to complications following surgery to remove his gall bladder. In 1988, a ten-day auction of his enormous estate of art and antiques raised over 20 million dollars for The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The Andy Warhol Museum was announced in 1989, and opened in Pittsburgh in 1994.

–Matt Wrbican, Archivist, The Andy Warhol Museum

  • Eve

    Please run this!

  • carol

    Please run this documentary!

  • taylor

    I think its the best documentary on Andy!

  • rebecca

    I hope this will be rebroadcasted soon!



  • kinzie

    please play this again! soon.

  • Naomi

    Would LOVE to see this documentary soon!

  • kimberly flynn

    Who Knew?! Fabulous man.

  • Jelissa henderson

    this is an amazing idea! make the film :)

  • joey hinderson

    this makes me happy to be alive and be gay

  • hakeem

    omg i love this this should soon

  • Kelly

    Andy Warhol is showing up everywhere. A gallery near my school just opened with some of his work. It was amazing!!

  • A McKendall

    Excellent film -A mustsee film which I enjoyed and learn from

  • Mary Jane

    Please re-broadcast on PBS. A name not mentioned was Frederick Hughes, of Houston, who was Warhol’s business manager and executor of his estate.

  • Paige


  • Butch The Nurse

    Andy Warhol has got to be one of the greatest artists to everr live!
    i feel that this documentary was useful and interesting, and you should play this again!

  • amber

    Ummmm has anyone here seen factory girl? He didn’t pay his actors!

  • Red Sonja

    If you play this again soon, they will come…. Drella is King!!!

  • nagy mic nag


  • kaya

    oh please hes not that great!

  • UrSoFuNnY

    Andy Warhol is awesum…i love pop art!

  • Z u L m A!! C:

    yeah..andy warhol didn’t have the best attitude…yeah he was a little bit of a dousche..but overall you can’t ignore his art!!!! he was a navigator made a whole new genre for artists today. he influenced many people…i am gladly one of them! hes inspirational and im glad he made a stamp in pop-art!!!!! =D

  • babspire


  • vicky anindo

    this is a very fasinating documentary of andy warhol and he has inspired so many people to do this type of art and will always be remembered

  • art lover

    i’m doing a project on him for school….he’s kinda wierd but his art is pretty good over all! but he has an absesion for cambell’s soup and Marlon Monroe. but ya over all he has a good talent!

  • kayla

    yes he is fantastically stupendis(:

  • Raven

    This guy is so Werid! :P

  • Jourden

    I love andy warhol!! He’s totally rad :P

  • rockey

    A very disturbed man whom had no idea who he was or what life was, I am sorry he died without knowing!!!

  • keita

    i love your work i would love to meet you but im only 16 years old so see ya you friend keita

  • carol

    his art is so aesome dont hate!!!! =>


    I am the birdie that met you two years ago from Brisbane for the Warhol show at QAG/GoMA. The bowerbird. I would like to come to Penn and work on the Warhol collection with you. Hope to hear from you soon.

  • John Richard Hendricks

    I don’t see on PBS credits for all the people involved in the production of the Andy Warhol documentary. I am particularly interested in the music — so well done.

  • grace song

    it will be really nice if you guys do this!

  • Ivalee

    please show :] andy’s my fav

  • Jay SLoan

    I think you should be required to have at least a 6th grade education to post comments here.

  • Briana

    Andy Warhol was an incredible artist, he may of done wrong in the past. Very good type of pop art! It’s sad how he left because of a surgery.

  • Sue Spade

    I missed part II. Please rerun soon! It was very very inciteful.

  • laura

    what is the name of the opera playing during the haircut scene, beginning of part 5?

  • Countess P

    Were living- I am so enthusiast with interest in caviar scene at dinner table and fine pluck of brow could we have some documentary

  • skye

    what about billy name?

  • skye

    he’s a pretty cool dude!

  • M. B. Zurich

    His quotations will outlive his superficial art.

  • liz

    but y??

  • andy lova

    i am way moree amazin!!!

  • andy lova

    i am way moree amazin!

  • andy is my hero

    I think he is great!!!

  • pat

    I do not think that Warhol art is superficial. It is intended to strike people in that way, therein lies its complexity and depth.

  • nana


  • Italian lover


  • CUTIE101

    Hes very cute looking !!
    I LOVE his art !
    i am crazy about him !
    RIP ….


  • Titi

    This is very COOL !
    I love his style of art !
    IM HIS # 1 FAN ! :D

  • Kerri

    please run this soon!(;

  • carrie

    u guys should total submitt this!!!!
    4 all of the younger art fans out there , tht havn’t heard of him b4 this would b awsome 4 them!!
    He has done so much for the art world it would be terible if this did not run…
    in honor of this outrageous artist
    do it!!!=)

  • sgt pepper

    ANDY WARHOL is making soup can labels in heaven

  • Nicole

    I knew of Andy Warhol but I had no idea how influential he truly was. What a huge talent.

  • Steven

    It was an awesome piece. A must have for anyone’s documentary collection.

  • rashell zombie

    this man is amazing if he was still alive and i was older i would marry him over and over he has been my favorite artist since i was younger years old and noiw im only like 16 hehe but yeah he really is/ was something special he always inspires me

  • blahblahgirl


  • Lorraine Tauson

    PBS DOCUMENTARY: ANDY WARHOL is in my opinion a true masterpiece film of a genius artist. I loved his fresh idea of art called “pop art” in the 1960’s. It was so refreshingly new. Although Andy Warhol himself admitted he did not like to get too close to people he did admit that he came the closest to a “certain kind of love with Edie Sedgwick”, one of his beautiful superstars of his infamous Factories. All of his superstars are shown and mentioned in this documentary. It seemed however, that many died after having been in Warhol’s camp. He did not pay his artist’s for one thing and his artists needed money to live. Many sadly commited suicide a few years later. Warhol died twice. The first time he died for one and a half minutes from several shot gun blasts from radical leader of one, Valerie Solanas. He refused to publish her play as he thought she was an undercover cop and was trying to catch him with entrapment. She went to his office and began shooting Andy and everyone that was there. Valerie died of pnuemonia in 1988. She was put in prison and then mental institutions the rest of her life as she was unstable mentally and began to threaten Andy and others all over again. A few years later, Andy went into a hospital to have surgery that was usually routine on his bladder. He did very well. The next morning Andy took a turn for the worst and died from unseen complications. No one could understand why he died as everything went smoothly. Rest in peace Andy. You’ll all either love him or hate him. Enjoy PBS’s magnificent and brilliant documentary on the life and death of Andy Warhol.

    I loved this documentary that was made all about the life and death of the amazing artist Andy Warhol that was brilliantly acheived by the great team of I loved much of his artwork.

  • sarah

    Is there anyway I could view this?

  • Jennifer

    Hey, the film is available via Netflix, DVD.


    his art inspires me to be… well… ME!

  • wandy orhol

    Brilliant, wonderful documentary…
    Who is the narrator ?

  • Robert

    I watched this on Unsung Films and thought it was amazing! The review of the documentary was brilliant too. What a great project and Andy was a genius!

  • Rusty Craig

    Excellent documentary on Andy Warhol. This is perfect, especially for people who are into painting and film making. The marvelous works that he has done are absolutely amazing and inspiring. He lived such a fulfilled life.

  • Frank

    Well, other than saying that I have this excellent film and am a longtime admirer of Andy’s, I also feel compelled to say that I am amazed at the number of moronic comments posted here.

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