What I Did (and Didn’t) Learn at the Andy Warhol Museum

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Yesterday my cousin Nate and I went to the Andy Warhol Museum. He’s heading back to ASU tomorrow to start his sophomore year, and the museum was one of the last unchecked items on his summer-in-Pittsburgh bucket list. Being the bad Yinzer that I am, I’d never been either. Plus, I love learning, so I agreed to join him. (And naturally, like a good little blogger, I wanted to post about it.)


But then, I walked in and realized no cameras were allowed. That won’t stop me, I thought. I’m still going to get my learn on and I can tell them allllll about that!  It really was a great plan, except that I walked out with more questions than knowledge. Sorry.

Let me start by saying this: I don’t know anything about art. I like pretty things, and sometimes I like art that makes you stop and think, but I am really, really clueless about art in general.

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1986, © AWF

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1986, © AWF

I went into the museum knowing a few fun facts:

  • Andy Warhol is an artist known for his pop art.
  • He is from Pittsburgh. (Like me! And Heinz! And Mr. Rogers!)
  • He made that fun, brightly-colored Marilyn Monroe painting and the one of the Campbell’s soup can.
  • He had funky hair.
  • He preferred boys.
  • He was good friends with Yoko Ono. 

We walked in, and the nice lady who took our money suggested we start at the top floor and work our way down. Good deal. Off we went.

We arrived on the 7th floor (our first stop) to find it was dedicated to Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. Go ahead, Google that. I’ll wait.

Welcome back. Did you see what I’m talking about? I know! Whaaaat? I think I was mostly confused because couldn’t find anything that explained what this had to do with Andy Warhol. So lost. And uncomfortable because I was there with my baby cousin and there were genitals everywhere. Awkward. Even if he’s not a baby anymore. Awk-freaking-ward. Oh and there was a wooden bunny carving covered in the artist’s (and the artist’s lover’s) blood, and the lover’s ponytail glued to it’s head. Color me confused.

Not to worry, we (quickly) moved on to the next floor, which was dedicated to Andy’s film projects. Andy Warhol made movies – who knew? Here we go, I’m learning! About Andy Warhol. This is cool. Did you know that Andy Warhol had his own show on MTV in the 80’s? So cool. Did you know that he made movies about people doing normal, everyday activities? Probably not, because while they were popular on the art scene, they never achieved much commercial success. Still, so cool. Did you know that one of those movies was a 5+ hour movie of his lover sleeping? Yep. We saw part of it. We saw the part where the camera is still and focused on naked, sleeping man-butt.

Baby cousin.

Back to awkward. 

Moving on.

Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup I Tomato, 1968, ©AWF

Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup I Tomato, 1968, ©AWF

The whole thing was very, very interesting, but it was far less awkward on floors 1-5. Here are a few other facts I learned:

  • He was a bit of a hoarder. No one called it that, of course, because he was famous and fabulous so he was just eccentric but he had 612 cardboard boxes filled with mementos. (You know, things like Christmas cards, gifts from friends…and pizza dough.) He called them his Time Capsules. 
  • He was very close with his mother. She was very supportive of his artwork and was the subject of films and paintings.
  • He was good friends with Edie Sedgwick and he spent a good bit of time at Studio 54 with Bianca Jagger.
  • He was fascinated by Hollywood movie stars.
  • He was a co-founder of Interview Magazine, which is still in print today.
  • His Oxidation painting involved having his friends pee on his artwork.
  • He was once shot by a radical feminist who believed the male species should be eliminated. He survived, and during his recovery his artwork took a morbid turn. The silk screening method used in the Marilyn paintings was also used to create Skull.
  • He died in 1987.

But I had soooo many questions that were never answered. So I spent some quality time with my good friend Google.

  • Was it just Andy and his mom when he was growing up? No one else was mentioned. (Nope, he had two older brothers and a father who was also very supportive of his art. He made sure to save the money for Andy to study art in college because he realized his son had talent. He passed away when Andy was just 13.)
  • Who was Edie Sedgwick? (A troubled socialite who died of a drug overdose at age 28.)
  • How old was Andy when he died? (58)
  • How did he die? (Post-operative cardiac arrhythmia in his sleep while recovering from gallbladder surgery)
  • What is the link between Warhol and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge? (I still have no idea.)
  • What is the link between Warhol and Nick Bubash (another artist whose work was on display at the museum)? (I still have no idea.)
Andy Warhol, Kimiko Powers, 1972, © AWF

Andy Warhol, Kimiko Powers, 1972, © AWF

Huh. Apparently I had more to share about it than I thought. How about that.

I really don’t care that much about “Beauties.” What I really like are Talkers. – Andy Warhol