John Warhola, an older brother of the Pop artist Andy Warhol and one of the original three trustees of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, died last Friday in Pittsburgh. He was 85 and lived in Freedom, Pa. The cause was complications of pneumonia, his son Jeffrey said.
ARTKABINETT social network for fine art collectors notes the passing of this monumental art personality who helped create and sustain the Warhol legacy.
Although Mr. Warhola was only three years older than Andy, the youngest of three brothers, he assumed a parental role after the death of their father in 1942.
When Paul Warhola (pictured in photo below to the right of John), the oldest of the three brothers got married, their father called John to his bedside and instructed him to take charge of young Andy -- making sure Andy attended college.
Their father, Andrej, for set aside postal savings bonds sufficient to cover two years of education.
Victor Bockris, in his book “Warhol: The Biography,” quoted Mr. Warhola as recalling that their father had said, “You’re going to be real proud of him, he’s going to be highly educated, he’s going to college.”
John Warhola scraped together money to help Andy finish his education at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon University). After his younger brother left for New York in 1949, he called him every Sunday for the next 38 years to keep tabs on him.
Andy Warhol, who dropped the final “a” from the family name, died in 1987 and left instructions that his estate be used to create a foundation for the support of the visual arts and that his brother John be made a trustee.
Mr. Warhola served as a vice president of the foundation for 20 years, playing an important role in establishing the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and creating a Warhol museum near the village in Slovakia where their parents were born.
John Warhola was born May 31, 1925, in Pittsburgh. After attending the Clifford B. Connelly vocational school, he worked in a machine shop and drove an ice cream truck before going to work in 1966 for Sears, where he installed television antennas and sold appliance parts in a warehouse.
In addition to his son Jeffrey, of New Wilmington, Pa., he is survived by his sons Donald and Mark, both of Cranberry, Pa.; a brother, Paul, of West Homestead, Pa.; and two grandchildren.
One of Mr. Warhola’s first initiatives as a trustee of the Warhol Foundation was to give several Warhol drawings to the town of Medzilaborce in Slovakia, near Mikova.
More artworks followed, and the foundation donated the money to open a museum there in 1991.
The Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art (pictured right), as it is now known, has 20 Warhols in its permanent collection, which consists entirely of works by Warhol and other family members, notably his brother Paul, a scrap dealer and chicken farmer who took up art late in life.
John Warhola was a strong, persistent voice arguing that Pittsburgh, too, should have a museum dedicated to his brother’s work.
“I think with all the museums they already got in New York, they wouldn’t appreciate another one,” he told The Washington Post in 1994, the year the Pittsburgh museum opened as a joint venture of the Warhol Foundation, the Dia Foundation and the Carnegie-Mellon Institute.
In addition to his duties as a trustee, Mr. Warhola took on the role of personal curator of his brother’s pre-Manhattan years.
Visiting art-world dignitaries and reporters could count on him for a tour of South Oakland, the neighborhood where the brothers grew up, and a visit to St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery in Bethel Park, where Andy Warhol is buried and where pilgrims often leave a soup can or Brillo pad on his gravestone.