Andy Warhol, whose name is synonymous with Pop Art, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and grew up in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. He studied art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology from 1945 to 1949 and then went to New York City where he became an illustrator until 1960 when he began making paintings based on comic strip characters such as Popeye, Dick Tracy, and Superman. He turned from the prevailing abstract-expressionist styles and the emphasis on the artist's emotion to a hard-line realism, using many common images associated with the popular culture such as Campbell's Soup can's or a Coca-Cola bottle's or Brillo pad's. The first images were hand painted, but many were reproduced using a silk-screen process. He became the "first artist to utlize the screenprint medium to elevate both common and famous photographic images from popular culture to fine art status." (Falk Vol III, p. 3465) In May, 1999, "ARTNews" magazine named him one of the twenty-five most influential artists-ever. As the article in ARTNews states, "it all began with the first Campbell's soup can in 1962. . . With this simple image, the concepts of appropriation and commodification were let loose for good. Warhol's celebration of his screen sirens, hustler hunks, and cafe-society wanna-bees . . .had an equally dramatic effect."
In 1964 Warhol began making sculpture, often with labels from supermarkets. In the 1970s he turned to portraits, some of the most famous being Jackie Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Mao Tse Tung, and Marilyn Monroe. The images reflected his fascination with death, furthermore emphasized in the series "Death and Disaster," which included depictions of car crashes and gang warfare. Many celebrities and socialites held Warhol in high regard and considered it high praise to be painted by him. Warhol died unexpectedly in New York City in 1987, following complications due to gall bladder surgery.