Warhol attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, receiving a fine arts degree in pictorial design in 1949. After graduating, Warhol moved to New York City, where he worked in advertising. He slowly gained a reputation, winning the Art Directors’ Club medal in 1957.
Given this success, by 1960 Warhol felt able to branch out and began painting less commercial based pictures. His paintings, such as his comic strips and brightly colored iconic objects in rows, were initially rejected by the art world. However, he continued and, in 1962, he held his second show in New York, which was met with critical acclaim. Following this success, Warhol opened his own studio, The Factory, which was to be a center for the pop world.
As a 'pop artist', Warhol used popular culture as inspiration. During the 1970s, Warhol turned to painting famous personalities from all walks of life. These figures included Mao Tse-Tung, Mick Jagger, Jimmy Carter, and Philip Johnson. These paintings represented not simply a change of subject but also a change of emphasis, as they were more detailed and subtle than much of this earlier works.
During the 1980s, Warhol turned his attention to mythical figures, such as Mickey Mouse and Superman. Later on, Warhol painted a series of endangered animals. As in all his work, Warhol picked those with a popular image, so that he could explore the image as much as the subject, or object, itself.