Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in 1928, in the neighbourhood of Oakland in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His parents were Slovakian immigrants. His father, Ondrej Warhola, was a construction worker, while his mother, Julia Warhola, was an embroiderer. Drawing soon became Warhol's favourite childhood pastime. He was also an avid fan of the movies, and when his mother bought him a camera at the age of 9 he took up photography as well, developing film in a makeshift darkroom he set up in their basement.
Warhol attended Holmes Elementary school and took the free art classes offered at the Carnegie Institute (now the Carnegie Museum of Art) in Pittsburgh. In 1942, at the age of 14, Warhol suffered a tragedy when his father passed away. Warhol's father had recognized his son's artistic talents, and in his will he dictated that his life savings go toward Warhol's college education. That same year, Warhol began at Schenley High School, and upon graduating, in 1945, he enrolled at the Carnegie Institute for Technology to study pictorial design.
When he graduated from college with his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1949, Warhol moved to New York City to pursue a career as a commercial artist. He landed a job with Glamour magazine in September, and went on to become one of the most successful commercial artists of the 1950s.
In the late 1950s, Warhol began devoting more attention to painting, and in 1961, he debuted the concept of "pop art"—paintings that focused on mass-produced commercial goods. In 1962, he exhibited the now-iconic paintings of Campbell's soup cans. These small canvas works of everyday consumer products created a major stir in the art world, bringing both Warhol and pop art into the national spotlight for the first time.
In 1964, Warhol opened his own art studio, a large silver-painted warehouse known simply as "The Factory." The Factory quickly became one of New York City's premier cultural hotspots.
In 1968, however, Warhol's thriving career almost ended. He was shot by Valerie Solanas, an aspiring writer and radical feminist, on June 3. Warhol was seriously wounded in this attack. Solanas had appeared in one of Warhol's films and was reportedly upset with him over his refusal to use a script she had written. As a result of the injuries he sustained, he had to wear a surgical corset for the rest of his life.
In the 1970s, Warhol continued to explore other forms of media.
Warhol also worked in sculpture and photography, and in the 1980s, he moved into television, hosting Andy Warhol's TV and Andy Warhol's Fifteen Minutes on MTV.
He died in 1987 at the age of 58. Thousands of people attended a memorial for the artist at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.