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Andy Warhol’s World History

A black and white silkscreen printed map

Andy Warhol, Map of Eastern U.S.S.R. Missile Bases, 1985-1986
The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
1998.1.330

This six-week course examines how historical events in the United States and around the world impacted the art and life of Andy Warhol. Each class focuses on a different decade; from the 1930s to the 1980s. Presentations will feature artworks from the museum’s permanent collection, including works rarely on public display. Many critics considered Warhol to be “a mirror of his time;” this course offers an artistic and historical perspective on the times reflected in his art.

*The first 5 classes are asynchronous (log in when you want) and the 6th class will be synchronous (12:00-1:00pm EST) via Zoom for a virtual tour at The Andy Warhol Museum. 

Week One (11.08.21): The 1930s & 1940s
This week we will learn about the 1930s and 1940s, when Andy Warhol was growing up in Pittsburgh. We will learn about how the Warhola family survived during the Great Depression and how World War II impacted Andy and his brothers. We will also discuss Warhol’s experience as an art student at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in the 1940s.

Week Two (11.15.21): The 1950s
This week we will learn about the 1950s, when Warhol became a successful commercial illustrator in New York City. We will learn about how the post-war economic boom impacted Warhol’s career in the advertising industry. We will talk about the Red Scare and how it may have influenced Warhol’s decision to change his name. We will also discuss the Lavender Scare and Warhol’s subversion of heteronormative culture.

Week Three (11.22.21): The 1960s
This week we will learn about the 1960s, when Warhol began his Pop Art career. We will learn about how the Civil Rights movement, the assassination of JFK, the debate over the death penalty, and the Vietnam War manifested in Warhol’s art and films. We will also learn about Warhol’s role in the LGBTQ Liberation movement and the assassination attempt that almost ended his life in 1968.

Week Four (11.29.21): The 1970s
This week we will learn about the 1970s, when Warhol increasingly explored global political issues with his art. We will discuss Warhol’s portraits of world leaders such as Richard Nixon, Chairman Mao, Jimmy Carter, and the Shah of Iran. We will learn about Warhol’s paintings of hammers and sickles in the context of socialist uprisings across the globe. We will also discuss Warhol’s trips to Kuwait and Iran in the late 1970s.

Week Five (12.6.21): The 1980s
This week we will learn about the 1980s, the final decade of Warhol’s career. We will discuss his obscure series of paintings of newspaper illustrations and how they reflected the consumerist culture of the decade. We will learn about Warhol’s complex relationship with the Reagan family and his paintings of camouflage in the context of the many military operations that occurred during the Reagan administration. We will also discuss the ways that the AIDS crisis impacted Warhol’s life and career.

Week Six (12.13.21): Virtual Field Trip to The Andy Warhol Museum
This week we will meet via Zoom for a virtual field trip to The Andy Warhol Museum!