The Day Andy Warhol Predicted His Own Death
November 6, 2017|María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards
Andy Warhol had some sort of attraction (or obsession) with death, but it definitely increased when he got the idea that he would have a violent death.
There's no doubt that there wasn't an artist that combined both his work and his personal life by iconically representing the modern world like Andy Warhol. He's one of the first artists to take popular culture and blend it with art, and as a result, he made his works more approachable –maybe not affordable– and graspable for a wider audience. As it happens with these characters, it's sometimes impossible to detach their work from their private life, or at least what they make us believe to be their intimacy, and it's actually Warhol's persona what adds some mysticism to his work. Those public events in his life marked his career and thus, turned him into such an appealing character. In that way, the fact that he kind of predicted his death (twice, but obviously, he was right just once) doesn't sound that far-fetched. Actually it just makes him a more intriguing character.
For years he claimed he was convinced he would have a violent death. What made him think that? We'll never know. But this premonition almost came true in the summer of 1968. Now, in order to get there, we must take some steps back. In 1965, Valerie Solanas, a writer and feminist activist approached Warhol to ask him to produce her latest play. According to people near him, it wasn't a pleasant approach, and after too much insistence and some time pestering him, Warhol told her that he wasn't really interested in putting his name in such a scatological, obscene, and badly satirized work. We all can guess this didn't make Solanas very happy, as his words weren't really toned down.
For the next two years, she founded a feminist association (in which sadly, or understandably, she was the only member) called the Society for Cutting Up Men. She wrote her SCUM manifesto where she claimed that all women should “overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation, and eliminate the male sex.” So, you can see she wasn't really someone you could dialogue with due to her extreme behavior.
So, her anger for being rejected, as well as her radical convictions, grew over the years, and in June of 1968 Solanas paid Warhol a visit to his studio, The Factory, and shot him a couple of times. He was severely injured and taken to the hospital, where he was attended and where he remained two months recovering. Doctors had to fix his lungs, esophagus, spleen, liver, and stomach, and somehow, he never fully recovered from the incident. In the meantime, Solanas was arrested and pleaded guilty, claiming that she was angry that the artist didn’t support her and that he had actually lost the only copy of her play. She was sentenced to three years in prison. After this time the authorities declared that she was competent to receive a formal trial, but she was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and sent to a psychiatric hospital. She stayed in at least eight facilities during her life until she died in 1988.
Now, as for Warhol, he never recovered neither physically nor mentally, and death became one of his most recurrent motifs in his art. Remember that I mentioned that he predicted his death twice? Well, since the assassination attempt, he developed a fear of hospitals, claiming that the moment he set a foot on one he would definitely die. So, for the remaining time of his life, he avoided going to see a doctor. His fear was such that he even refused to get a surgery after being diagnosed with a gallstone in 1973. Of course, the neglection of his health proved to be his death sentence, and with the passing of years he developed an infection out of the untreated gallstone. In 1987, mostly forced, he agreed to get the surgery. It all went great and doctors claimed that he was recovering quite fast, but unfortunately on February 21, 1987 (just one day after the surgery), he had a heart attack and passed away.
He might have been such an extravagant and quirky character, but his premonitions were scarily and quite accurate.
Andy Warhol was really one of a kind. For more on this iconic artist, take a look at these: