Andy Warhol is the world’s most famous American of Carpatho-Rusyn ancestry, and the icons of the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church were his first exposure to art. His unexpected death in 1987 was followed by the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the rise of the Rusyn movement for identity, which embraced the flamboyant pop artist, filmmaker, and jet setter as their iconic figurehead.
From their own idiosyncratic perspective, the traditional, religious, provincial Rusyns have reconstructed the image of Andy Warhol, pointing up aspects of the artist that have gone largely unnoticed. In a reciprocal process, Andy has had a significant impact on the Rusyn movement and on the recognition of Rusyns worldwide. This study establishes Warhol’s Carpatho-Rusyn ethnicity and explores its possible influence on his persona and his art. It also analyzes the Rusyns’ reception of Warhol, with a focus on the history of the Warhol Museum of Modern Art in Slovakia. The author concludes that recognition of the Rusyn Andy contributes to a distinctive perspective on the American Warhol.