Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh in 1928, and died in New York in 1987. A pioneer and central figure of Pop Art, he began his career in the 1950s as an illustrator at a New York advertising agency. His career in fashion and design had a tremendous influence on his artistic output. Taking his cues from pop culture, he replicated totems of consumption, which became the iconography of his work. Inspired by best-selling items in the food industry, comics, portraits of movie stars, magazine spreads, and society’s overall change towards a culture of mass consumption and easy reproduction, he created work in multiples, using the mechanical means of silkscreen printing. In this way, he distanced the artist’s hand from the work itself, just as Marcel Duchamp had done with his readymade pieces in Europe in the early 20th century. Warhol made art using “artificial processes”: through the use of overhead projectors, screen-printing or photographic superimpositions. He also filmed experimental Super 8 movies. With his Polaroid camera, he snapped portraits of the artists and celebrities hefrequented. In 1964, he opened The Factory in a loft in Manhattan, an atelier where he organised parties and artistic events. He invited many then-unknown young artists and launched their careers, including Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the Velvet Underground.
Messum’s Wiltshire is a pioneering multi-purpose gallery and arts centre celebrating the creative endeavour.