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Pop Art: Visit Andy Warhol’s USA

Pennsylvania, New York

Pop Art: Visit Andy Warhol’s USA

By: Rebecca McNamara

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  • States:
    Pennsylvania
    New York

American artist Andy Warhol’s images of Campbell’s soup cans and Marilyn Monroe and plywood sculptures of Brillo boxes are some of the most famous emblems of the Pop Art movement.

Unlike the abstract expressionist paintings popular in preceding decades, pop artists like Warhol used tropes from comic books and commercial graphics to elevate the commonplace to the level of “fine” art. By the early 1960s, the young artist, born in the working-class industrial city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1928, had become an icon. To understand Warhol’s journey, one must visit at least two U.S. cities: Pittsburgh and New York, New York.

Warhol’s boyhood home

In 1934, the Warhola family moved into a modest house at 3252 Dawson Street in a neighborhood in Pittsburgh settled by Eastern European immigrants. Warhol (the artist eventually dropped the ‘a’ from his name) lived in this house for fifteen years, learning to draw and develop photographs, experimenting with printmaking and perusing celebrity magazines and comic books—all of which would become vital to his artistic career. The house is not an active historical site, but thanks to the Warhola family’s efforts over the past decade, it still safely stands, and visitors can stroll past it and experience the neighborhood where the young artist grew up.

St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church

About 2.5 kilometers from Warhol’s childhood home, the Warhola family attended weekly mass at St. John’s. Many writers have attributed Warhol’s interest in the iconography of pop culture to his early years looking at the iconography of saints.

“The Factory”

Beginning in the early 1960s, Warhol held a New York City studio space dubbed “The Factory” — a nod both to his hardworking assistants churning out prints and to the capitalistic nature of the art world. But the Factory wasn’t just for art making. Here, Warhol held countless parties attended by important figures in art, literature, fashion and high society. Over two decades, the Factory had four addresses, but it is the second, at 33 Union Square West, the Decker Building, where Warhol moved in 1968, that is most famous. From the street, count up six floors to the windows of Warhol’s former studio.

Today, artists and craftspeople frequently showcase and sell their work in neighboring Union Square.

The Decker Building, second from the left, at 33 Union Square West, was home to one of Andy Warhol’s Factory locations.

The Decker Building, second from the left, at 33 Union Square West, was home to one of Andy Warhol’s Factory locations.
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Beyond My Ken / Wiki Commons

Studio 54

When the exclusive “anything goes” nightclub and disco Studio 54 opened in 1977 in New York City, Warhol became a regular. The club had a short run and closed three years later; today it’s used as a theater where travelers can see productions by the Roundabout Theater Company.

Church of St. Vincent Ferrer

Though his partying lifestyle is perhaps more well known, Warhol retained his Eastern Orthodox Catholic beliefs, quietly attending Mass in New York City here multiple times per week.

Andy Warhol’s place of worship, the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer.

Andy Warhol’s place of worship, the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer.
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Bestbudbrian / Wiki Commons

St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery

On February 22, 1987, at age 58, Warhol died after gallbladder surgery; his body was laid to rest in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. Visitors honor him by leaving Campbell’s soup cans on his modest grave marker while far-away fans pay respects digitally via live streaming of the gravestone.

The Andy Warhol Museum

Opened in the artist’s honor in 1994, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh is the largest single-artist museum in the world, containing seven floors of art and ephemera by, about or inspired by the pop art icon. Whether it’s your first or last stop, this museum is a must for any Warhol pilgrimage.

See Andy Warhol’s famous portraits at the Andy Warhol Museum.

See Andy Warhol’s famous portraits at the Andy Warhol Museum.
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Abby Warhola / The Andy Warhol Museum

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