Andy Warhol, Pop Artist, Dies at 58


February 22, 1987

warhol.jpg1) The artist who said his work was not to create art but to recreate it passed away in a New York hospital this morning and was officially pronounced dead at 6.30am, New York time.

2) Andy Warhol, born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh in 1928 to Czech parents, was admitted to the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center for a routine gall-bladder operation which was carried out without obvious complications yesterday morning.

3) It is not yet clear what happened or could have happened to Warhol who was supposed to be kept under observation overnight following the operation which finished at lunchtime. Warhol was in contact with personal friends as late as last night - some nine or ten hours after the operation had been concluded. A private nurse couldn't wake Warhol at dawn this morning and hospital staff attempted to revive the artist for some 45 minutes without success.

4) At 6.31am, he was pronounced dead and the world heard the news at lunchtime today.

Recent illness

5) Warhol was in Italy at the end of January to attend the opening of his Last Supper Series. It was there that he complained of pain in the region of his gall bladder and he sought medical advice on his return to the United States. Two sonograms on the 14th and 19th of this month confirmed that his gall bladder was enlarged and probably infected.

6) We asked the Medical Correspondent Dr. Joseph LaRoux whether a gall bladder operation was a risky procedure in itself.

7) "A gall bladder operation isn't really very risky at all. Hundreds of thousands of them are performed every year and the operation is pretty basic. No overnight stay is required for this operation and that should tell us enough about its dangers. I suspect there were other complications in this particular case."

8) There will be an autopsy on Warhol probably today and he will be laid to rest alongside the grave of his parents in the St. John the Baptist Catholic Cemetery in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. There is likely to be a small private service and a much larger public one at another venue.

Famous for 30 years

9) It was Warhol that coined the expression that everyone will be famous for 15 minutes in this world. He himself proved that some could last a lot longer in the limelight.

10) Warhol was termed a pop artist in that he worked with popular culture. The items of everyday life. He worked with celebrities such as John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy. He worked with everyday objects such as comic strips and soup cans. He even worked with symbols of modern life such as an electric chair.

11) Warhol was, above all, busy. A career spanning over thirty years began in the 1950s when he was a successful commercial artist. It was in the 1960s that he began to mass produce the pop art of famous icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor for which he became best known. His Campbell Soup Can series was produced at the end of 1961. In 1963, Andy Warhol himself said he "wanted to work like a machine" and it is no irony that much of his production line art came out of his studio called The Factory.

12) This style of producing hundreds of copies of a work, differing only slightly between themselves came in for a lot of criticism. "Art is what you can get away with", Warhol himself admitted. Reacting specifically to the charge that he was ripping off the public by producing art off a production line, Warhol claimed that "life is a series of images that change as they repeat themselves."

13) We asked the Art correspondent Sally Bonham Wright what the legacy of Andy Warhol would be.

14) "That is a very difficult question. I think people will recall how he crossed artistic boundaries and wasn't afraid of experimentation, though that meant he attracted a huge amount of criticism. He is, or rather was, one of those artists you either loved or hated. His work is very much situated in the latter half of this century. He represented 'US' if you like."

15) Andy Warhold was 58 years old.

By Neil Coghlan