Andy Warhol Art History Lesson

This Andy Warhol art history lesson introduces middle schoolers to the artist's unique persona and fresh, colorful approach to creativity.

Bright colors, repetition, and whimsical, approachable art make Andy Warhol one of the most appealing 20th-century artists for kids.

This art history lesson for elementary students introduces children to the life and style of one of New York’s most famous artists.

Who Was Andy Warhol?

Andy Warhol is a  seminal figure in the history of art, one whose life and work remain a captivating tapestry of innovation, cultural commentary, and personal paradox.

Born in 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Warhol grew up during a time when art was changing.  He was at the forefront of a new movement called Pop Art. This style of art celebrated ordinary, everyday things and turned them into something special. Imagine turning a can of soup or a picture of a famous movie star into a work of art – that’s what Warhol did!

One of his most famous works is a series of paintings of Campbell’s Soup cans. These were just like the cans of soup you might have in your kitchen, but Warhol painted them in bright, bold colors. He made 32 different paintings of these soup cans, showing that everyday objects could be art, too. This was a big deal because it changed the way people thought about what art could be.

Warhol didn’t just paint soup cans. He was also known for his colorful and vibrant portraits of famous people. His paintings of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley were like looking at a burst of colors and shapes. It was his way of showing how our culture is obsessed with famous people and how they can become larger than life.

Warhol’s way of making art was also special. He used a technique called silkscreen printing. This method allowed him to create multiple copies of the same image with slight differences. It was like making art in a way that was similar to how things are produced in factories. This idea was revolutionary and made people think about art in a whole new way.

But Warhol’s life was just as intriguing as his art. He was known for his unique appearance, often seen wearing a silver wig and dark sunglasses. This added to his mystique and made him a bit of a mystery.

In 1968, a shocking event changed his life. A woman named Valerie Solanas shot him, which was a very serious situation. This event blurred the line between his art and his real life, making it even more fascinating.

Warhol’s studio, known as “The Factory,” was a place where creative people came together to work on art and music. It was a hub of artistic innovation and eccentricity. Warhol’s ability to promote himself, to become famous for being famous, was a puzzle in itself. He was both a celebrity and a critic of celebrity culture, all at once.

In 1987, Andy Warhol passed away, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire and captivate people all over the world. His art and life are a reminder that creativity can break boundaries, challenge old ideas, and keep us talking and thinking about it for a long time.

To sum it up, Andy Warhol was a unique artist who made everyday things into art, explored the world of fame, and lived a life full of surprises. His art and his story are like a puzzle, waiting for us to discover and enjoy.

Key Vocabulary Terms

Pop Art: A style of art that celebrates everyday objects and popular culture, making them into art.

Silkscreen Printing: A method of creating art by forcing paint through a screen with a design on it to make multiple copies of an image.

Celebrity: A famous person, often from the world of movies, music, or sports.

Iconic: Something that is very famous and easily recognizable.

Mundane: Ordinary, usual, or not very exciting.

Innovative: Introducing new ideas or methods, often in a creative way.

Eccentric: Behaving in a way that is unconventional or different from what is considered normal.

Persona: The image or personality that a person presents to the world, which may be different from their real self.

Paradox: A situation or statement that seems to be self-contradictory but may reveal a deeper truth.

Legacy: Something that is handed down from the past, often having a lasting impact on the present.

Recommended Reading

The Little People, Big Dreams series is one of my favorites for younger elementary students.

In this lesson, I used the (affiliate link —->) Little People, Big Dreams: Andy Warhol book to introduce my homeschool art history students to the life and work of this flamboyant, whimsical artist.

Andy Warhol Art History Project for Kids

This mixed-media Andy Warhol art project is perfect for homeschooled kids or elementary-aged art students.

Nothing helps kids connect to art more personally than incorporating their own shiny faces into their work!

(We used a similar approach in our Nefertiti project, and the children had so much fun with it).


*camera (any camera, even a phone camera)

*fun props (sunglasses, hats, silly masks)


*small canvases

*painter’s tape or medical tape

*acrylic paint



Step 1:  Photograph the kids.

You can make this part extra fun with props.  Present them with a basket full of dress-up props and let them choose.  Props that feature the face (hats, boas, masks, glasses, ect) are going to work best.

Focus on the face and make it a headshot to mimic Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe series.

Print four identical copies of each photo in black-and-white, taking care to make sure the dimensions will fit inside the quadrants you plan to create in Step 2.

Step 2:  Paint the canvases.

Tape off the canvases with painter’s tape or medical tape so that there are four quadrants.

Offer the children acrylic paint in an array of bold, saturated colors.  Invite them to choose a different color for each quadrant.

Allow the paint to dry completely before removing the tape.

Step 3:  Glue the photos onto the canvases.

Step 4:  Fill in with markers or crayons.

Once the paint and glue are completely dry (I recommend allowing it to dry overnight), use the markers or crayons to give each photo some color variation as seen below.

This Andy Warhol art project is perfect for elementary-level homeschoolers learning about 20th century American history or art history.


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