New: The wit and whimsy of Warhol, works from the 1950s
Thanks to an additional contribution from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, we are now able to present a fuller picture of the artist’s early career in New York City. The new selection consists of hundreds of images of Warhol’s work from the fifties, including commercial designs, book illustrations, and intimate drawings from his sketchbooks. Warhol’s inventiveness was already apparent in these years, from a super-stretched Car (a Cadillac Coupe deVille) to a delicate Pink Lady cocktail (below), and of course a variety of colorful cats, playful cherubs, and plenty of shoes. Techniques include fluid contour drawings, clever blotted line drawings, and highly worked gold-leaf collages. These spirited works reveal the assured hand of a gifted draftsman.
Andy Warhol’s (1928-1987) career as a commercial illustrator began in 1949, when he moved to New York from Pittsburgh with a pictorial design degree in hand. Success came swiftly as he worked for clients like Tiffany’s, Bonwit Teller, Vogue, Glamour, The New York Times, and the shoe company I. Miller & Sons. Warhol’s work as an illustrator continued until the early ’60s when he began devoting himself to his studio, the Factory.
Warhol’s interest in printing techniques and mechanical reproduction is evident even in his early work. His engaging Who’s Pussyfooting Around, c. 1960, fusing his love of footwear and cats, is an example of his blotted line technique in which wet ink is traced over an outline and transferred to blank paper. He also used stamps and stencils in his designs and frequently employed vivid washes of Dr. Martin’s Aniline Dye. Repetition and commercialism remained of fascination to the artist throughout his entire career, as emblematized by his aphorisms equating art with business and the museum with the department store.
Warhol also undertook many book projects throughout his life, starting with a number of playful publications in the 1950s. His mother, Julia Warhola, provided the winsome handwriting for many of his projects, including the mock recipe book Wild Raspberries by Suzie Frankfurt, illustrated here by the fanciful Roast Iguana. The expressive, purple feline Sam is taken from one of Warhol’s most recognizable books, 25 Cats Name[d] Sam and One Blue Pussy, while his unfinished So book, is represented here by two red dogs – one “so big” and one “so little.”
Seated Monkey exemplifies Warhol’s interest in various methods and materials, with an elaborate display of gold and raised ornamentation. The authority of the artist’s hand is particularly visible in his contour drawings, such as the portrait of dancer/choreographer John Butler.
You may immerse yourself in the early works and other aspects of Warhol’s career by visiting both collections from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts:
Current “Andy Warhol — From A to B and Back Again,” Whitney Museum of American Art, 2018-2019. Catalogue by Donna De Salvo, and contributors Jessica Beck, Okwui Enwezor, Trevor Fairbrother, Hendrik Folkerts.
Recent “Adman: Warhol Before Pop,” Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney: The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, 2017-2018. Catalogue by Nicholas Chambers, Blake Gopnik, Brett Littman, Ellen Lupton,Richard Meyer, Nina Schleif, Tom Sokolowski, Matt Wrbican.
Recent “Andy Warhol by the Book,” The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh: Williams College Museum of Art: The Morgan Museum & Library, New York, 2015-2016. Curated by Matt Wrbican.
Selections from JSTOR
Danto, Arthur C. Andy Warhol. New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 2009. https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1npq62
Jonathan Flatley, and Anthony E. Grudin. “Introduction: Warhol’s Aesthetics.” Criticism 56, no. 3 (2014): 419-25. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.13110/criticism.56.3.0419
Mumme, Paul. “Review.” Journal of Asia-Pacific Pop Culture 2, no. 2 (2017): 244-49. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/jasiapacipopcult.2.2.0244
“Andy Warhol: Posted on October 3, 2007.” In Ai Weiwei’s Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009, edited by Ambrozy Lee, by Weiwei Ai, 127-31. MIT Press, 2011. https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hhg38.56