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Why is Andy Warhol significant in the contemporary art world?

Art Investment

In the world of contemporary art, there are few names as prominent and widely recognized in the art fraternity than Andy Warhol. But why was he so prominent? What was it in his works that spoke to popular culture, and defined it in many ways for his paintings to become synonymous with 'art house' & 'alternative culture', yet still adorn the walls of some of the most prestigious art galleries in the world?

Prevalent in the 1960's and 1970's, Andy Warhol's works in many ways catalogued an era of change, and an era of defiance as society pushed back on the clean cut lines of The Beatles and started to explore self expression, drugs, sex and rock 'n' roll — all of which is depicted beautifully in Warhol's works.

But these were not just paintings of some hippy, these were fine works of art that in many ways defined an era and spoke the truth across a range of series of his works.

Andy Warhol was heavily influenced by his mother, Czechoslovakia-born Julia Warhola. Although not an artist herself, Andy often sat at the kitchen table, across from a print of da Vinci's Last Supper, eating a bowl of Campbell's soup. The family's passion for music, dance, art and creativity in eastern European styles would shape Andy's future and his passion for art and drawing.

Simple pleasure such as enjoying a bowl of Campbell's soup in the company of his family would influence him greatly; becoming arguably one of his most famous works — Campbell's Soup Cans. "The canvases at once stress the uniformity and ubiquity of the product's packaging and subvert the idea of painting as a medium of invention and originality".

Other key influences for Andy Warhol included Marcel Duchamp and Nathan Gluck, the former, a talented, thematically and unpredictable — with famous pieces such as Fountain, which was a urinal in 1917 — while the later, an artist and graphic designer, focused on commercial work and uniformity. Both artists had such contrasting styles, influencing Warhol's works in an amazing fashion.

His works were not always light, colourful and carefree, back in 2013 "A famously macabre painting by Andy Warhol sold for $105.4 million, a record for the famed pop artist and the second-most expensive piece of art ever auctioned, according to Sotheby's auction house. "Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)" shows a twisted body in the wreckage of a car crash, part of Warhol's vaunted "Death and Disaster" series, painted in 1963."

How influential was Andy Warhol on contemporary art, as we know it?

Andy Warhol wasn't just influential; he created a whole new genre of contemporary art — pop art.

"During the 1960's, consumerism and commercialism in America had taken over the nation. Warhol reacted to the assault of advertisements and popular figures by illustrating these trends in his artwork. Through his channeling of America's popular culture, he created a new genre of art: pop art.

Though easily and frequently disregarded as anti-aesthetic, overly commercial, sensationalized and even vulgar, pop art was a powerful provocateur to historical artistic movements and instructive for the future in its vision of art."

One cannot look at pop art or contemporary art today without associating pieces in some way to Andy Warhol. Andy's unique style was the perfect blend of commercial and freethinking works, he was able to create satire and provocation, while at the same time bringing stunning stills and details into his pieces.

He was an inspiration not only in his time, but today and arguably for generations to come. As pop art has exploded across the world, especially in countries once closed off from the world, his works live on through the emerging and great artists he continues to inspire.

For those seeking to invest in art inspired by Warhol or any other contemporary artists, pop art could be a style to explore as an option for your art collection.

Art Works expert fine art team work with investors and lovers of art to create a portfolios of art that are geared for positive financial returns, not just a conversation starter on your walls. Contact the team today at to find out more.

Published on May 12, 2020
Art Works Advisory

Art Works is Asia’s leading contemporary art investment gallery, providing advice to investors seeking to capitalize on the fast-appreciating art market.


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