Two bullets. They penetrated the artist’s lungs, esophagus, spleen, liver and stomach. He was briefly declared dead.
June 3 of 1968, artist Andy Warhol was cornered and shot in his office by a woman filled with vengeful rage, Valerie Solanas. Solanas was reportedly paranoid that Warhol had stolen a manuscript for a play she had written and had ill intentions towards her. During his two-month hospital recovery, Warhol adopted an intense phobia of hospitals accompanied by a surgical corset that he had to wear for the remainder of his life to hold his organs intact. Ergo, it was 1968 that the surgical corset became a symbol of artistic resilience as Warhol prevailed to become one of the most recognizable artists in American history.
As the founding father of pop art, Andy Warhol created art for the eyes of the general public and the common American consumer. Some of his most distinguishable works include the “Campbell’s Soup Cans,” “The Shot Marilyns,” “Green Coca-Cola Bottles” and many other creative replications of prominent American figures and brands. Warhol’s wit was evident in his art that often mocked the consumer culture of our country while ironically endorsing it. However, he was not aloof to the profit machine that is the advertising industry. Warhol had a background in commercial art and was knowledgeable about how to be a step ahead of the American masses at all times. In fact, critics would often debate the validity of his art because they viewed it as commercialism. Warhol believed that “making money is art. And working is art. And good business is the best art.”
“Campbell’s Soup Cans” was a prime representation of how Warhol could amplify a product’s intention with the stroke of a brush. His inspiration for the collection was inspired by the soup itself, which Warhol drank nearly every day of his life as a grade school student. He debuted 32 canvases hanging on a wall to mimic the layout of a grocery market, each featuring a different flavor of soup. The public was intrigued by the pieces that seemed to be mechanically produced. Warhol took notice of the admiration and printed the art onto a paper dress to convey the disposability of consumer products. Soon after, Campbell’s introduced “The Souper Dress” that featured Warhol’s interpretation of the cans printed repeatedly on a paper dress. The elitists of New York paraded the dress at high society parties and events in Manhattan until it was time for Warhol to paint the next product they would drool over.
Mr. Warhol’s influence on the fashion industry remains active. He was ahead of the curve with clear eyewear frames. Adding modern touches to everyday wear was essential. Today, clear footwear and bags are adored by consumers. Furthermore, Warhol trademarked basic wide-striped tees that can be observed in the streets each day, advocating the timelessness of the already versatile pattern. In addition to these staple looks, he clung to his platinum hair and dark brow duo as a piece of identity — a look that can often be seen traipsing down the runway. (Warhol often chose to forego a night out to stay home and dye his own brows.) Lastly, one of Warhol’s largest trend contagions is self-deprecating jokes. No matter his fame or level of optimism, he cracked aberrant jokes to bully himself. It is especially spry amongst millennial and post-millennial aged people. Warhol once said, “I do art because I’m ugly and there’s nothing else for me to do.”
Life after his near-death encounter was taxing for Warhol in a multitude of ways. He struggled to swallow food and experienced abdominal pains frequently. Physical health aside, he was mentally traumatized. Warhol persisted in his work, producing consistent content nonetheless. Following his fragmentary recovery, he felt prompted to explore other mediums of art such as videography and writing. He created over 60 films and published two books. His hectic schedule didn’t stand a chance against speed, an amphetamine that Warhol consumed every day to ensure maximum productivity in the studio. Vehemence fueled his resilience.
We are all Warhol at times. With an ardent desire for success and a willingness to disregard wellness, each of us can identify with the late sage artist. His legacy calls us to be zealous while remaining mindful of our limits. Our spirits must not waver in the midst of adversity; our success must be healthy. If you listen closely, you can hear his enigmatic Warhol wisdom from the grave: “The idea is not to live forever, it is to create something that will.” •
by: Chloe Bertrand
Photography by: Ella Whitaker
Models: Julienne Bajusz and Sam Waguespack
HMUA: Vivianna Torres
Stylists by: Nikita Kalyana