I recently ran across an article exclaiming 25 of the greatest self-made men in American history and Andy Warhol was not on the list. I found this to be absurd. Surely, Andy Warhol qualifies- he quite clearly created and perfected the art of the self-made man.

The article presents an image of the American Dream; rags to riches (that story), as the matching model for the self-made man. There is an interesting quote included by Frederick Douglass that really put’s the emphasis on MAN and masculinity that is interesting to point out but not my interest. The end of the introduction, however, but me back where I started:

The story of the self-made man embodies the goal of every man; to become the captain of his own destiny.

How could Andy Warhol not be on this list?

So I am adding him.


Mr. Congeniality, Andy Warhol 

Mr. Congeniality, Andy Warhol 

Growing up during the Great Depression from Slovakian immigrant parents, Andy Warhol, the youngest of three brothers, was known as a problem solver in grade school, and would be the first of his family to ever go beyond high school.

Regarded early on to be a challenge; spending early childhood years confined to the bed, having almost failed his first year of college, and professors who misunderstood Warhol’s non-conformist attitude concluding that he would never amount to anything.

Little did they know, Warhol would push, pull, climb and charm himself into a life fit for artist. A life so many artist yearn for today.

I am not afraid of Andy Warhol

I am not afraid of Andy Warhol

I remember in college reading a book or an article about Benjamin Franklin being the original self-made man. I remember saying to myself, I was just like him in a way. I came from nothing; really nothing, and there I sat listening to Professor Greven feeling like the only African American in New London, Connecticut, the only student who has ever seen Food Stamps and knows what welfare is has no idea how he’s going to pay back the $200,000 in loans for wanting so badly to go to a private college. I thought about how blind I thought the class was, how privileged and superficial these idiots were, and how much I wanted to be one of them. So I could show them, who they are. It had not everything to do with being black and them white, because inside I was sure to be yellow and them brown. I wanted to mix with them and brighten them up. I thought: if I were Andy Warhol, I could do that.

But I am Raja Feather Kelly, I thought subsequently and I can be whoever I want. I am not afraid of Andy Warhol.

Andy Warhol, like other self made men, took the world around them and made it suitable for their lifestyle. They were aware of the swing of revolutions, innovation, and made it so they were at the foreground of it. Like Warhol’s self-made predecessors, he too sprung a factory from the ground, a factory that resembled a reflective pool into all parts of the self: no limits just opportunity.

I present to you Andy Warhol.