The Andy Warhol Museum: Reflections of the Contemporary American Soul

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“Jackie.” Photo by the author.

This week I visited the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. It would be fairly easy to make a case that Warhol was one of the the most important artists of the 20th century. He’s certainly one of the most well-known and worthy of being mentioned in the company of Picasso, Dali and Duchamp. Like Picasso and Dali, he was prolific. Like Duchamp, he was ground-breaking.

And like each of these giants, he is not easily understood.

Nearly everyone can recite Warhol’s observation about “15 minutes of fame.” Here are a handful of quotes that reveal a little more about this master of illusions, whose real self seems to have been hidden in plain sight.

“A lot of people thought it was me everyone at the ‘Factory’ was hanging around, that I was some kind of big attraction that everyone came to see, but that’s absolutely backward: it was me who was hanging around everyone else. I just paid the rent, and the crowds came simply because the door was open. People weren’t particularly interested in seeing me; they were interested in seeing each other. They came to see who came.”
— Andy Warhol

“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”
— Andy Warhol

“Business art is the step that comes after Art. I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist. After I did the thing called ‘art’ or whatever it’s called, I went into business art. I wanted to be an Art Businessman or a Business Artist. Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. During the hippies era people put down the idea of business — they’d say ‘Money is bad’, and ‘Working is bad’, but making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
— Andy Warhol

The museum is seven stories high. Like the Guggenheim in New York visitors take an elevator to the top and work their way down. In this manner it presents chronologically presents the life and work of Andy Warhol.

I personally find this journey an important one because many people, if not most, have a somewhat narrow view of the artist. To fully appreciate the soup cans and Brillo boxes, it’s necessary to see that Andy Warhol was a talented draftsman and not just an idea person who took advantage of the moment.

Yes, he was a conceptual artist, too, but also one who knew the value of producing product. He pushed boundaries on many levels, behaving as if they never existed in the first place.

“They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” — Andy Warhol

This is but an introduction. There is always more to see than meets the eye, even if Andy himself says there is no depth beyond what you see on the surface.

If you don’t use a flash, you are free to take photos. All images on this page were taken by the author. Originally published at 3:00 a.m. April 26, at

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An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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