Andy Warhol surrounded himself with “Superstars”, a cast of people that inspired the artist. Warhol’s Superstars were misfits, beautiful, talented performers, or simply unique characters. Some possessed multiple talents, most were extraordinary at one thing and almost all battled with drug addiction. Curating his own concept of what a superstar is, Warhol formed an eclectic group of deviant personalities that often did not fit within the traditional Hollywood mold of a superstar. They were made up of members of the gay and transgender communities, drag queens, and young troubled beautiful women and men that longed for a life outside the social norm.
The superstars’ association with Warhol and the Factory allowed them to express themselves radically and explore their creative personas. Warhol created art inspired by them and made art with them. Many of these individuals were cast in Warhol’s underground films, portraying scenes that were often unstructured, explicit, and improvised. Many also became subjects of his paintings and screen prints. They were vital to Warhol’s massive creative output that spanned many genres and art forms. Some superstars screen printed Warhol’s works for him at his direction, taking on the role of assistant printer as well as being a star in some of his 400+ films.
The presence of Warhol’s superstars began to decline gradually after Valerie Solanas attempted to assassinate him at the Factory in 1968. After he was shot, Warhol became increasingly cautious about others’ accessibility to him. Over the next decade, the Warhol Superstar era slowly ended with The Factory and its members experienced a variety of post-Warhol lives. Some went on to have promising careers in show business, others became prolific artists, a few returned to more conventional lives, and too many suffered tragic deaths. Warhol’s superstars were vital to the counterculture that changed the country and the world.