Time Capsule 21:
Born in Pittsburgh in 1928, Andy Warhol grew up within the Carpatho‑Rusyn immigrant community, whose culture and Eastern rite Catholicism were passed down by his mother Julia Zavacky Warhola. She constantly reminded Warhol of his heritage by sharing with him the news of her family members still living in Eastern Europe and telling him stories about life there. Having artistic inclinations of her own, Julia Warhola recognized her son’s talent early on and encouraged him in various art activities. After graduating in 1949 from Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) with a degree in pictorial design, Warhol moved to New York City where he was joined by his mother three years later. They frequently collaborated on his art projects, with Julia contributing her unique handwriting to Warhol’s drawings, most often as the signature. Less frequently, Julia’s work was given a stage of its own, such as the book seen here, Holy Cats by Andy Warhol’s Mother. Even when Warhol was involved in a frenetic social life with New York’s cultural avant‑garde and celebrities, Julia insisted that he attend mass. She lived with him until 1971, a year before her death in 1972.
TC21 Object: Julia Warhola, Holy Cats by Andy Warhol's Mother, 1960
Julia Warhola illustrated this small book titled <em>Holy Cats</em>. Despite her relative success as an artist, Julia was a mother first. She even labeled her own book as “by Andy Warhol’s Mother.” Perhaps it was because she was proud to be his mother, or perhaps, like her son, she knew famous names could sell art.
TC21 Object: Julia Warhola, Holy Cats by Andy Warhol's Mother (open book view), 1960
Andy admired his mother’s art, and he often asked her to contribute her calligraphy to his illustrations and books. Her unique calligraphy was an integral part of his early graphic style as a book designer and commercial artist.
TC21 Object: Julia Warhola, Angel Holding a Cross, n.d.
Julia Warhola’s Byzantine Catholic faith often influenced her choice of subject matter for artwork, such as this image of an angel holding a cross.
Related Artwork: Julia Warhola, Cat with a Hat Reclining on a Hat (from "Holy Cats by Andy Warhol's Mother"), 1950s
Andy’s early artistic work, though more sophisticated, often consisted of simple line drawings that were typical of his mother’s style.