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Sunglasses and Andy Warhol

Posted by James on 31st Oct 2014

Andy Warhol is easily one of the best known artists of the past 50 years. Part of the transition that turned Warhol from a shy outcast at school, to the super-cool king of pop art, was the image he built for himself. A key part of that image, was Warhol's passion for sunglasses.

How sunglasses helped transform an outcast into a star

As a child, Warhol [who was born Andrew Warhola] contracted Sydenham's chorea, an illness that causes involuntary movement of the muscles. Because of his health issues, Warhol frequently missed school. Interestingly, it was his poor health as a child, which many people, including his mother, believe inspired him to become an artist.

It was during his time away from school, that Warhol developed his passion for art and for celebrity culture. His mother said that he would sit in bed drawing day after day, surrounded by pictures of movie stars. Those of you who know about Warhol's work, will see an immediate link between this fascination with art and celebrity as a child and his future work at The Factory.

The link between celebrity and art is where the sunglasses came in. Celebrities wore sunglasses to avoid being noticed. Warhol was very aware of the power sunglasses have on one's image, so they quickly became a part of his look, as he transitioned into the role of a world famous artist.

Sunglasses, Warhol and Lou Reed

One of the stars Warhol went on to mentor, the late Lou Reed, was featured in an earlier post here. Not long before he died, Reed helped design a pair of sunglasses. Over the years there have been official and unofficial Andy Warhol inspired sunglasses, though none that were created from an actual Warhol design. This is a huge pity as it would have been great to see what Warhol would have come up with, had he taken time to design a pair.

And finally

I hope you enjoyed this look at Lou Reed's passion for sunglasses.

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Photo: The Andy Warhol Foundation