Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fabulous! A Portrait of Andy Warhol

Written and Illustrated by Bonnie Christensen 

This unorthodox picture book is a truly "FABULOUS!" biography of the father of postmodern art, Andy Warhol. The book starts with a scene from the late 1960s, and Warhol surrounded by the rich and famous. It then flashes back to the 1930s in Pittsburgh, PA, where a young Andy Warhola drew pictures of his mother, battle childhood illness, and retreated from the bullies he faced in high school. 

After college in 1949, Warhol head to New York City where he started illustrating for magazines. Going bald, he began to wear wigs. Andy eventually found success as a commercial artist. Artists such as Matisse were fine artists. Their work hung in lush galleries, whereas Andy's work was seen in newspapers, magazines, and street corners. "Andy looked around. Some fine art galleries were suddenly showing everyday objects, just like commercial art. He'd been training for ten years. Why couldn't he do that?" 
Thus, the birth of the Campbell's Soup Can art and a career of a boy from Pittsburgh that continues to be celebrated throughout the world. 

I really enjoyed this biography for numerous reasons. I live very close to Pittsburgh and have been to the Andy Warhol Museum numerous times. It contains great art work and often has some of the nation's best performance artists performing. Also, a close family friend grew up living close to the Warhola's. He was close friends with Andy's brother, Paul. He once described to me Andy as, "a loner, always sick, and just weird." (I think he forgot to mention rich and successful!) 

I don't know if I would feel comfortable using this book in a classroom. Although I believe that exposing students to a variety of different art, cultures, and peoples is important, I don't know if parents would particularly support the inclusion of alternative artist Andy Warhol. This is an issue that I will continue to struggle with for the next few years. 


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