Andy Warhol

Iconic Icons by the Pope of Pop


There were three strands of the project that concerned Andy Warhol's sacred and profane. They involved (1) a presentation of his output with English philology students in the Oświęcim University of Applied Sciences, (2) a series of articles on the aspect of his activity, and (3) Marek's involvement in an exhibition called ‘Andy Warhol Contexts’ given by Kraków’s International Cultural Centre in 2012, during which he was in charge of conducting guided tours as well as workshops for young people.  

Born into a Carpatho-Rusyn family of immigrants who arrived in USA from the village of Mikovà, which is situated in present-day Slovakia, Warhol spent his youth in Pittsburgh, where he ardently attended services at the local orthodox church of St John Chrysostom. Both parents were devoted Greek Catholics. During his early days Warhol experienced two traumatic events which shaped his personality and religious view points: his contraction of Sydenham’s Chorea, and his father’s death.

Having been trained as a graphic designer at the local Carnegie Institute of Technology, Warhol moved to New York, where he made his name as a commercial artist. His fear of death was exacerbated by the assassination attempt that he survived. He became renowned for designing silk screen realizations in which he depicted famous characters as well as objects of everyday use, treating them as contemporary icons. Simultaneously, he developed his interest in topics which displayed religious or quasi-religious properties, which culminated in his last work, his travesty of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper.

Warhol was a master of what you might term the binary opposite, and in these creations we can see the subtle complexity of his approach towards Pop Art. He juxtaposed highbrow culture with the lowbrow, placed artistic individualism against mass-production, matched anonymity with fame and the private with the public, he harkened back to Kipling with his clashes between East and West and the sacred with the profane. 


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