Andy Warhol at the Vatican and Vassar

It’s been more than thirty years since the death of Andy Warhol, but he continues to be one of the most trendy and influential artists in the world.

Andy Warhol at the Vatican

The Vatican Museums are in the process of organizing a show, in conjunction with the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, that will look at Warhol’s religious  side. Warhol was a practicing Catholic, who regularly attended Church of St. Vincent Ferrer in Manhattan and volunteered at homeless shelters and financially supported his nephew’s studies for priesthood.

Warhol kept his religious practice very private, except for a very public visit with Pope John Paul ll at the Vatican in 1980. Warhol wore a tie and very conservative wig for the occasion. In the 1980s, Warhol created a series of Crosses, which have been sold at auction for more than $2 million. Many of the Crosses were created in synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen on large, 90 x 70 inch, canvasses. A collection of the Crosses was published by art historian Robert Rosenblum in conjunction with the Erzbischofliches Diozesanmuseum in Cologne.

During the last years of his life, Warhol was commissioned by gallery owner Alexandre Iolas  to create a group of works based on Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper. The works were for an exhibition space in the Palazzo Stelline in Milan, located across the street from the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, the home of Leonardo’s masterpiece. Warhol began to create the works in 1984. He worked from a black and white photograph of the painting and from a plastic sculpture of The Last Supper that he bought at a gas station on the New Jersey Turnpike.

After Warhol’s death, in 1987, more than one hundred paintings and studies of The Last Supper were found in his studio. The exhibition is going to be on display in both The Vatican and the Warhol Museum, The 2019 date has not yet been announced.

Andy Warhol at Vassar

Some rarely exhibited works will be traveling to universities around the country, thanks to an educational initiative organized by the Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Warhol x 5, the start of the traveling exhibit exhibit, which is open to the public, is currently on display at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar, SUNY New Paltz’s Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies, The University Art Museum at the University at Albany and the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College in Westchester County.

Nearly two hundred college and university museums and galleries, nationwide, will be receiving over 20,000 works for display.

Andy Warhol at VFA

Please contact us for more information about Jacqueline Kennedy lll, Tidal Basin, Washington Post or any of the other works by Andy Warhol available at VFA.

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Andy Warhol: How He Saw Himself and Everyone Else

I believe in low lights and trick mirrors. A person is entitled to the lighting they need…”
—Andy Warhol

Two shows at the Warhol Museum bridge the gap between the way Andy Warhol viewed himself and the way in which he viewed others. My Perfect Body just ended and Stars of the Silver Screen is coming this month.

How Andy Saw Himself

Andy Warhol’s self-image was something that he grappled with throughout his life.

In his autobiography, Warhol wrote, “I believe in low lights and trick mirrors. A person is entitled to the lighting they need…At one time, the way my nose looked really bothered me – it’s always red – and I decided that I wanted to have it sanded…I went to see the doctor and I think he thought he’d humor me, so he sanded it and when I walked out of St. Luke’s Hospital, I was the same underneath but had a bandage on…If I didn’t want to look so bad, I would want to look ‘plain.’ That would be my next choice.”

Andy Warhol’s skin began to lose pigment when he was about eight years old. He developed acne and rosacea, which made his skin appear red and blotchy in places. He was teased by other children, who called him Spot or Andy the Red-Nosed Warhola. Much of his time was spent at doctor appointments, in an attempt to improve the appearance of his face.

In their book, Overcoming Body Image Problems including Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), authors Alex Clarke, David Veale and Rob Willson say that Warhol probably suffered from BDD. BDD is characterized by, “a discrepancy between how others rate their appearance (or whether it is important to them) and how the person rates themselves.”

As an adult, Warhol used collagen to minimize wrinkles in his face and donned wigs to cover up hair loss, which occurred not just on his head, but on his body, as well.

How Andy Saw Everyone Else

As a young boy in Pittsburgh, Warhol and his two older brothers often went to the local cinemas. Andy was fascinated by the glitz and glamor of the films of the 1930s and ‘40s. He sent away for fan photos, hung movie posters on his walls and devoured movie magazines.

His fascination with famous and glamorous people continued through his adulthood. A biography of Frank Sinatra was found on his bedside table when he died in 1987.

Most of his paintings of celebs, including Mona Lisa, appear to have been done with detached observation, focused more on Warhol style than subject substance, yet manage to elicit strong emotional response from the viewer. Even the soup cans, soda bottles and candy boxes were loaded with sentiment that spurred reactions.

How Andy Painted Himself

Warhol was often painted and photographed by other artists and did many self-portraits throughout his lifetime. In many, he appears happy and self-confident, although those closest to him say that he was shy and not as confident as he appeared in public.

One of his most remarkable self-portraits, part of the Guggenheim collection, was done when Warhol was 58, just a year before his death. The silkscreen on canvas is nearly nine feet square. While most of his portraits usually included the subject’s neck and shoulders, this self-portrait looks like a disembodied head floating on a black background.

Warhol may have just accepted what he saw as his physical shortcomings as he matured.

Andy Warhol at VFA

We have many of Warhol’s portraits available at VFA. Please contact us for more information about the collection in our gallery.

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Andy Warhol Influences - Campbells Soup

Andy Warhol: The Signification of Soup

Even for Andy Warhol collectors, who know his enormous body of work, it’s hard to separate Andy Warhol from Campbell’s Soup and almost impossible to walk down the soup aisle of a grocery store without making the connection. Could Warhol have painted a box of Wheaties or a pack of Lucky Strikes and gotten the same emotional response that he achieved with Campbell’s Soup Cans?

The initial reaction to his paintings of thirty-two Campbell’s Soup Cans ranged from indifference to outrage. A snarky review, in the May 1962 issue of TIME magazine, questioned the artistic merits of the works of Wayne Thiebaud, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist and Andy Warhol.

“Unknown to one another,” it read, “a group of painters have come to the common conclusion that the most banal and even vulgar trappings of modern civilization can, when transposed literally to canvas, becomes Art.” That review was written just a few months before the Los Angeles Exhibit of his thirty-two Campbell’s Soup Can paintings…and a few years before TIME magazine began to ask Warhol to design many of their covers.

I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for 20 years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.”
—Andy Warhol (about Campbell’s Soup)

How the derision of the Campbell’s Soup Cans turned to admiration, began after the failure of the west coast show. Irving Blum’s Ferrus Gallery, in L.A., was struggling, and he wanted to infuse the energy of some New York artists into his exhibits. He visited Warhol in his studio, when only three of the thirty two paintings were completed. Blum convinced Warhol to finish the set and exhibit them in L.A.

Five of the thirty two paintings were sold, one to actor Dennis Hopper, but Blum wanted to keep them all together and bought back all five. He paid Warhol $1000, a payment of $100 a month for ten months, for the entire set. The paintings were acquired by MoMA, in 1996, for $15 million.

The Campbell’s Soup Company opened their first factory in Camden, New Jersey in 1896. Canned foods became very popular with people moving to industrialized cities, who didn’t have ready access to farm produce. The Depression and war time created a market for both inexpensive food and food that could be transported to troops without spoiling.

For families like the Warholas in Pittsburgh, and, probably, the Blums in Brooklyn, soup was an easy and inexpensive way to feed a family and became “comfort food” for many of their generation.

Julia Warhola, Warhol’s mother, had three sons to feed while her husband was away on construction jobs. She used the tin cans to make flowers, which she sold to supplement the family’s income. “I used to drink it.” Warhol said about Campbell’s Soup. “I used to have the same lunch every day, for 20 years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.”

The Campbell’s Soup labels that are so instantly recognizable today were designed in 1898, when a company executive went to the annual Cornell-Penn football game, loved the red and white Cornell uniforms, and convinced the company to use the colors on the soup can labels.

Warhol did paint Coca-Cola bottles, and it would be hard to find anyone in this country, or anywhere else on the planet, who hasn’t had a Coke, but it’s the Campbell’s Soup Cans that still resonate with Warhol fans.

The Campbell’s Soup Company issued a limited edition tribute labels to Warhol in 2004, 2006 and 2012, with a printed signature on the side of the can. Warhol had no formal relationship with the company, but they certainly had a symbiotic one.

So, could Wheaties or Lucky Strikes have resonated through the art world in the same way that Campbell’s Soup did? Probably not. Most of us probably feel some nostalgia when we think about Thanksgiving Green Bean Casserole with Cream of Mushroom or a bowl of Tomato Soup on a cold winter day.

We invite you to visit our gallery to view Chicken and Dumplings and the other flavors of Andy Warhol.

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Three Big Influences on Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol influenced the way we view art, fame and the commercial culture that we inhabit.

The influences that turned Warhol from a sickly boy in Pittsburgh, into one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, began at birth.

1. Julia Warhola

Born in Czechoslovakia in 1982, Julia emigrated to the United States with her husband, Ondrej Warhola in 1921. The Warholas had three sons, Paul, Andy and John. Ondrej often worked on construction sites away from their home in Pittsburg, so Julia stayed home and cared for their sons.

Julia was an artist. She drew, embroidered and made flowers from Campbell’s soup cans, which she sold to supplement the family’s income.

She was also Warhol’s constant companion when, as a child, he became ill with Syndenham’s chorea, a neurological disorder that can cause uncoordinated jerking movements of the face, hands and feet.

Julia provided Warhol with art materials and encouraged him to draw. He often sat at the kitchen table, across from a print of da Vinci’s Last Supper, eating a bowl of Campbell’s soup.

Warhol moved to New York in 1949 and began work as a commercial artist. Julia joined him in 1952, sharing his apartment and studio on Lexington Avenue. The apartment was also filled with cats…about twenty five of them.

In 1954, mother and son each published a book of cat drawings. Julia’s book, Holy Cats was signed, Andy Warhol’s Mother, in the distinctive script that Warhol himself emulated in much of his work.

Warhol’s book was titled 20 Cats Name Sam and one Blue Pussy. The grammatical error of “name” in the title was done by Julia. Warhol asked her to script his work and he let her misspellings stand.

The influence of Julia’s playful line drawing style, and whimsical page layout, can be seen in much of Warhol’s work. Julia moved back to Pittsburgh in 1970 and died in 1972, at the age of 80.

2. Marcel Duchamp

Warhol collected works by Marcel Duchamp long before the two ever met. Decades before Warhol, Duchamp challenged the definition of art and the place of artists in society.

Duchamp moved from Paris to New York in 1915 and helped to establish the Society of Independent Artists. He submitted his piece, Fountain, for inclusion in one of the Society’s group shows. Fountain was a urinal, signed R. Mutt, 1917. The piece was rejected and Duchamp resigned. Warhol traded three of his portraits for a copy of the Fountain.

Duchamp did a series of what he called, readymades, which were ordinary objects that he designated works of art, long before Warhol did the same with everyday household items.

Warhol and Duchamp were both talented, theatrical, unpredictable. They both attracted admirers who wanted to be part of their celebrity life styles.

I really like Warhol’s spirit. He’s not some painter. He’s a filmeur, and I like that very much.” — Marcel Duchamp

3. Nathan Gluck

Nathan Gluck was an artist and graphic designer and consummate New Yorker. He studied at Cooper Union, Pratt Institute and the Art Students League. In the early 1950s, Gluck and a few other artists, invited Warhol to be part of a show at the studio loft of graphic designer, Jack Wolfgang Beck. Gluck encouraged and supported the work that Warhol did and even worked as his assistant from 1955 through 1965 (at minimum wage).

He encouraged and helped Warhol with illustration and design in his commercial work, and left when Warhol began to use the Factory as his studio. Gluck was a little too conservative for the Factory crowd, although he did maintain his friendship with Warhol. Gluck went on to have a successful career as an art director and graphic designer.

Of course, no amount of influence could have produced such a great artist, without Warhol’s innate talent and genius. But, sometimes, we all need a little encouragement, guidance and inspiration and Warhol seems to have gotten that from Julia, Gluck and Duchamp, three great influences in his life.

The end results, some of which hang in our gallery, are the product of the great mind of a great artist.

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Andy Warhol Lithographs

Andy Warhol Lithographs: Flowers 1964 and Photos After

Andy Warhol could easily have drawn hibiscus flowers, made a silkscreen and hung it at his first exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery at the end of 1964. He could have, but he didn’t.

For Flowers, Warhol appropriated a photo of hibiscus flowers from the June 1964 issue of Modern Photography magazine. The photos were taken by Patricia Caulfield, the executive editor of Modern Photography. Caulfield threatened to sue Warhol, was offered, but declined, two sets of Flowers silkscreens, and agreed to a cash settlement instead.

For the Castelli exhibition, Warhol changed the colors and contrasts of the original photos and had them printed in square formats, ranging in size from 24 inches to 60 inches. Some of the Flowers lithographs were reportedly given to visitors during the exhibition.

Warhol had a second exhibition of Flowers at the Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, in Paris, in 1965.

I always notice flowers.” —Andy Warhol

After the Flowers exhibition, Warhol threatened to retire from the art scene. Because of, or in spite of, the threat of a lawsuit by Modern Photography, he bought a camera and began taking his own photographs.

He took a camera everywhere and the Warhol Foundation wound up with over 50,000 of his photographs. Many were donated to schools and museums by the foundation, many have been sold and are sought out by collectors and many remain unseen by the general public.

Some of Warhol’s most successful works were done from his own photographs and many of the photos themselves stand alone as works of art and historical record.

Continuing to push the envelope, Warhol made films like Sleep, that consisted of five hours and 20 minutes of his friend, John Giorno, sleeping and Empire, which was eight hours of footage of the Empire State building.

Why Warhol went from painting Death and Destruction to Flowers is anyone’s guess. Although he established Interview magazine in 1969, which is still in publication today, Warhol himself was not an easy interview nor was he forthcoming about his art.

In 1977, Warhol did a 90-minute interview with Glenn O’Brien, the editor of Warhol’s own Interview magazine, that went like this:

GLENN O’BRIEN: What was your first work of art?

ANDY WARHOL: I used to cut out paper dolls.
GO: How old were you?
AW: Seven.
GO: Did you get good grades in art in school?

AW: Yeah, I did. The teachers liked me. In grade school, they make you copy pictures from books. I think the first one was Robert Louis Stevenson.
GO: Did they say you had natural talent?
AW: Something like that. Unnatural talent.
GO: Were you arty in high school?
AW: I was always sick, so I was going to summer school and trying to catch up. I had one art class.
GO: What did you do for fun when you were a teenager?
AW: I didn’t do anything for fun. I think maybe once I went down to see a Frank Sinatra personal appearance with Tommy Dorsey.

Warhol was eccentric, sometimes difficult, and one of America’s finest artists.

I just do art because I’m ugly and there’s nothing else for me to do.” —Andy Warhol

Please contact us for more information about Flowers or other works by Warhol and the many great artists whose work is in our gallery.

Andy Warhol's Studio

The Spiritual Side of Andy Warhol

It’s easier to picture Andy Warhol partying than praying, but pray he did.

Warhol was born into a Byzantine Catholic family in Pittsburgh. His older brother, John Warhola, said that Andy was sickly and spent much of his childhood at home with their mother, eating Campbell’s soup at the kitchen table, while gazing at a print of Leonardo DaVinci’s Last Supper.
Warhol was commissioned to create works, based on Last Supper, for an exhibit in the Palazzo Stelline in Milan across the street from the famous masterpiece. Warhol created a series of works, including a 32 foot long by 12 foot high Last Supper.

Andy took considerable pride in financing his nephew’s studies for the priesthood. And he regularly helped out at a shelter serving meals to the homeless and hungry. Trust Andy to have kept these activities in the dark. — John Richardson, Art historian

He didn’t worked from the original, instead he used a plastic sculpture that he bought at a gas station on the New Jersey Turnpike. Warhol had an audience with Pope John Paul ll at the Vatican in 1980, one of the rare public displays of Warhol’s faith.

Art historian, John Richardson, surprised many of the mourners at Warhol’s funeral, when he said, “I’d like to recall a side of his character that he hid from all but his closest friends; his spiritual side. Those of you who knew him in circumstances that were the antithesis of spiritual may be surprised that such a side existed. But exist it did, and it’s key to the artist’s psyche. Although Andy was perceived—with some justice—as a passive observer who never imposed his beliefs on other people, he could on occasion be an effective proselytizer. To my certain knowledge, he was responsible for at least one conversion. He took considerable pride in financing his nephew’s studies for the priesthood. And he regularly helped out at a shelter serving meals to the homeless and hungry. Trust Andy to have kept these activities in the dark. The knowledge of this secret piety inevitably changes our perception of an artist who fooled the world into believing that his only obsessions were money, fame, glamour, and that he could be cool to the point of callousness. Never take Andy at face value….”

Warhol created many versions of the Last Supper, many more Pop than traditional, using corporate logos, Harley Davidson wings and the Wise potato chip owl.

Warhol’s celebrity portraits are as iconic as the idols he portrayed.  It’s not easy to top the celeb status of Christ and the Apostles, but Warhol came pretty close with his diamond dusted screenprint of Santa Claus, available in our gallery, as of this writing. With the holidays coming up, Warhol’s Santa under the tree would be a fabulous surprise for any Warhol collector.

An iconic place where iconic people have been making films since 1912, Paramount Studio’s logo is one of the best known in the world. Warhol’s Paramount is in our gallery, along with many other Warhol works.

Warhol may have kept his religious beliefs a secret, but seeing him in this light puts a new slant on the way we view his work. If you’re interested in the spiritual side of the artist and his work, you might enjoy The Religious Art of Andy Warhol by art historian and curator, Jane Daggett. We welcome you to visit Vertu to see the the works of Andy Warhol and the other wonderful artists in our gallery.

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