Andy Warhol - Early Life (1928–1949)

Early Life (1928–1949)

Andy Warhol (né Andrej Varhola, Jr.) was born on August 6, 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the fourth child of Ondrej Varhola (Americanized as Andrew Warhola, Sr., 1889–1942) and Júlia (née Zavacká, 1892–1972), whose first child was born in their homeland and died before their move to the U.S. Andy had two older brothers, Paul, born about 1923, and John, born about 1925.

His parents were working-class Rusyn emigrants from Mikó (now called Miková), located in today’s northeastern Slovakia, part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Warhol's father immigrated to the United States in 1914, and his mother joined him in 1921, after the death of Warhol's grandparents. Warhol's father worked in a coal mine. The family lived at 55 Beelen Street and later at 3252 Dawson Street in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The family was Byzantine Catholic and attended St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church. Andy Warhol had two older brothers — Pavol (Paul), the oldest, was born in Slovakia; Ján was born in Pittsburgh. Pavol's son, James Warhola, became a successful children's book illustrator. About 1939, he started to collect autographed cards of film stars.

In third grade, Warhol had chorea, the nervous system disease that causes involuntary movements of the extremities, which is believed to be a complication of scarlet fever which causes skin pigmentation blotchiness. He became a hypochondriac, developing a fear of hospitals and doctors. Often bedridden as a child, he became an outcast at school and bonded with his mother. At times when he was confined to bed, he drew, listened to the radio and collected pictures of movie stars around his bed. Warhol later described this period as very important in the development of his personality, skill-set and preferences. When Warhol was 13, his father died in an accident.

As a teenager, Warhol graduated from Schenley High School in the year 1945. Though not medically diagnosed, Andy may have had dyslexia. After graduating from high school, his intentions were to study art education at the University of Pittsburgh in the hope of becoming an art teacher, but his plans changed and he enrolled in the Carnegie Institute of Technology in pursuit of an art career as a commercial illustrator. In 1949, he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.

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