On this day back in 1968 iconic pop artist Andy Warhol was shot. The incident took place inside his legendary artist’s space called “The Factory” in New York City. Valerie Solanas, who was an acquaintance of Warhol, entered into his multi-storied, artist’s mecca of a building, with the worst intentions. She located Andy, who was there with several friends and began firing. When it was over, Warhol was shot and his friend, London art collector Mario Amaya, was grazed by one of the multiple flying bullets.
Andy Warhol was rushed to the hospital and given a 50/50 chance of survival. The bullet had entered the left side of his stomach, went straight through his chest, and came out his right side.
So who shot Warhol?
Valerie Solanas, the shooter, was also an artist. Like many others, she came to NYC in the sixites to soak in the culture and enjoy a bohemian lifestyle while pursuing their craft. She frequented all the cool haunts of the time and immersed herself in her pursuits of playwriting and feminism.
Warhol was a well known fixture in the city and Solanas was looking for a producer for the play she was writing. Naturally, Andy Warhol came to mind. She sent over her typewritten manuscript to Andy and upon reading it, he thought it too lewd and profane. Solanas was a tad… edgy.
Even though Warhol wasn’t interested in involving himself in her project. He did ask Solanas to appear in one of his, a film called “I, a Man” and she accepted. Their paths would continue to cross as did their artistic social circles and Solanas still pursued Warhol to produce her play. And he kept declining. He also still had her typewritten copy of the play she had sent over and that wasn’t helping the situation either. Solanas became more and more incensed with Warhol and it seems, she had reached her boiling point. Bang bang.
While Warhol was in surgery, fighting for his life, Valerie Solanas turned herself in by walking up to a policeman in Times Square and announcing, “Police are looking for me!” She had a gun in each pocket of the trenchcoat she was wearing. Solanas would later go on to be featured in a Daily News cover story telling the press she shot Warhol because “he had too much control over my life.”
Warhol survived the almost five hour surgery. Valerie was charged with attempted murder, assault, and illegal possession of a gun. She would also undergo a psychiatric evaluation and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. She pled down to “reckless assault with intent to harm” charge and served a three-year prison sentence.
Andy Warhol would go on to become one of the most recognized artists in the world, passing away February 22, 1987. As for Valerie Solanas, her life wasn’t quite as charmed. She died of pneumonia at just 52 years old. Fourteen months after Warhol’s passing. Valerie died homeless and penniless in a motel in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district armed only with her typewriter.
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Ott, Tim. Valerie Solanas: Learn About the Woman Who Shot Andy Warhol. Biography.com
Pop Artist Andy Warhol Shot By ‘Flower Child‘. June 4, 1968. The Daily Advertiser. Lafayette, Louisiana
Pop Artist Andy Warhol Shot; Condition Critical After Surgery. June 4, 1968. Wisconsin State Journal. Madison, Wisconsin.
Warhol, Andy. Hackett, Pat. The Andy Warhol Diaries. 1989. Warner Books. New York, New York