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Born into a fervently Catholic family, Andy Warhol was brought up in Ruska dolina, the Ruthenian borough of Pittsburgh. A devout Catholic himself, the artist attended weekly church services with his beloved mother, Julia Warhola. Though ever in his thoughts, it wasn’t until his final years that Warhol’s oeuvre became dominated by portentous and religious imagery, flirting with styles and symbolism from Eastern and Western Catholic art history, and carefully reframing them within the context of Pop.
As an exhibition of works by Andy Warhol goes on display at S|2 London, we look back at the three seminal decades that shaped the artist’s career and legacy.

The 1960s

In the 1960s he duly adopted what became his signature technique: the silkscreen. Put simply, this entailed transferring a photographic image onto canvas – and applying paint or ink to it via a squeegee. There tended to be not just one finished canvas but several: Warhol liked to try out a variety of colour combinations on each photo. (He also liked to vary the number of photographs reproduced in each work: sometimes it was only one, sometimes hundreds.)
Shots of celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy were the source for some of Warhol’s best-known silkscreens. By the mid-1960s, Warhol was rather a celebrity himself, and he even created a set of intensely coloured selfportraits in silkscreen.

The 1970s

After tireless activity in the 1960s, it’s generally agreed the 1970s was a much quieter decade for Warhol – in part because he was recovering, physically and mentally, from an assassination attempt against him in 1968 (in which he was shot at three times in his studio, The Factory.) His best-known work from the 1970s is his portraiture: created by taking Polaroid photos of sitters and applying the usual silkscreen technique thereafter.

The 1980s

As the 1980s dawned, Warhol was experimenting increasingly with abstraction – in series such as Rorschach (inspired by the psychological test, in which one’s perception of inkblots is analysed). One innovation was his sprinkling of diamond dust on the surface of works, such as Diamond Candy Box. A large series of drawings and paintings of dollar signs, meanwhile, saw Warhol revisit a longstanding theme in his art: money.

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