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It was during the 1960s that Warhol transformed himself from an advertising illustrator who made art, into one of the most famous American artists alive. In many ways, Andy Warhol and his circle helped define the decade.
It was during the 1960s that Warhol began to make paintings of famous American products such as Campbell's soup cans and Coca-Cola, as well as paintings of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Troy Donohue, and Elizabeth Taylor. He founded "The Factory", his studio, during these years, and gathered around himself a wide range of artists, writers, musicians and underground celebrities. He switched to silkscreen prints, which he produced serially, seeking not only to make art of mass-produced items but to mass produce the art itself. In declaring that he wanted to be "a machine", and in minimizing the role of his own creative insight in the production of his work, Warhol sparked a revolution in art - his work quickly became very controversial, and popular.
Warhol's work from this period revolves around American popular culture. He painted dollar bills, celebrities, brand name products, and images from newspaper clippings - many of the latter were iconic images from headline stories of the decade (e.g. photographs mushroom clouds, and police dogs attacking civil rights protesters). His subjects were instantly recognizable, and often had a mass appeal - this aspect interested him most, and it unifies his paintings from this period. Take, for example, Warhol's comments on the appeal of Coca-Cola:
|“||What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.||”|