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Why Did Andy Warhol Love Christmas?

20th century

Why Did Andy Warhol Love Christmas?

Who would guess that Andy Warhol, one of the most decadent artists of the 20th century, the owner of the controversial Factory leading a scandalous life, loved Christmas? Well, he did. A loooot.

 Andy Warhol, Christmas Tree, ink, tempera and collage on paper, Drawn circa 1958 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., warhol christmas

Andy Warhol, Christmas Tree, ink, tempera and collage on paper, Drawn circa 1958 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Warhol’s parents came from the region of today’s Slovakia and as his nephew Donald Warhol admitted, Warhol “was a practicing Byzantine Catholic, and actually attended a Roman church later in his life,” adding that he “was very religious, it was a very big part of his upbringing.” Probably surprisingly for those who associate Warhol mostly with the Cans of Campbell Soup, the artist did explore his faith in his art, for example in his 1986 screen print depicting The Last Supper, or the “Heaven and Hell” series, yet as Jessica Beck, assistant curator of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh said, these religious works are largely “under-researched”.

Andy Warhol, Wreath, ink and watercolor on paper, Drawn circa 1956 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., warhol christmas

Andy Warhol, Wreath, ink and watercolor on paper, Drawn circa 1956 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

When Warhol began working for the Fifth Avenue temple of Tiffany & Co. upon his arrival in Manhattan from a poor part of Pittsburgh, he quickly became the new king of Christmas. In 1956 he was commissioned to design Christmas cards, in addition to the commissions for drawings of shoes and bags. His cards were subsequently published by Tiffany’s every Christmas up to 1962, the year of soup cans.

Andy Warhol, Christmas Fairy "Merry Christmas to You," ink on paper, drawn circa 1954. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., warhol christmas

Andy Warhol, Christmas Fairy “Merry Christmas to You,” ink on paper, drawn circa 1954. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

However, why did he love Christmas so much? As we know, Warhol was fascinated by popular culture and consumerism, and Christmas probably is the most Pop thing ever. Christmas is at once materialistic and spiritual, kitsch yet inviting to a more decent collective life, it’s universal and democratic, exactly like popular culture.

Christmas Tree, offset lithograph with gold leaf on folded paper, from an edition of unknown size, executed circa 1957 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., warhol christmas

Andy Warhol, Christmas Tree, offset lithograph with gold leaf on folded paper, from an edition of unknown size, executed circa 1957 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

 

Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.

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