Category Archives: Andy Warhol art

Andy Warhol and Silkscreens.

I’ve now read three Warhol biographies–well actually four: The first was the 1989 version of Victor Bockris’s Warhol biography entitled “The Life and Death of Andy Warhol”. Next I borrowed Bob Colacello’s “Holy Terror – Andy Warhol Close Up” (1990) from my local library and soon realised I needed my own reference copy. The third was Wayne Koestenbaum’s 2003 “Andy Warhol”. But then I read a review somewhere that told me that Bockris had updated and expanded his 1989 bio in 2003 for the 75th anniversary of Warhol’s birth and simply called it “Warhol”. So I invested in a copy and reread Bockris’s account.

There is no doubt that Bockris’s biography is the most detailed story of Warhol’s life and artistic development and I recommend the 2003 edition as the most detailed. Colacello’s book also tries to describe Warhol’s background and early years but its main interest is in the period from 1970 to 1981 when Colacello was Andy’s employee and confidante and hustler–constantly being nagged to convince potential customers to order Warhol to paint their portrait.  Koestenbaum’s, is the shortest of the biographies, and includes a description of Warhol’s early life, but I get the impression that he’s read Bockris. Koestenbaum is a fan of Warhol’s films and most of his book extols the virtues of sitting for hours watching them or re-watching them until one is hypnotised.

Bockris tells how Andy Warhol was introduced to silkscreening. Coincidentally, the day before I read Bockris’s account, I saw a BBC documentary on Robert Rauchenberg. I knew next to nothing about this other founding member of American Pop Art and realised I have really missed out on seeing his art. The only Rauchenberg work I know is “Monogram”–the stuffed goat with a tyre round its middle standing on a collage floor. I had no idea he was working with silkscreens before Warhol got the idea. I didn’t know either that he was gay and had had a relationship with Jasper Johns…

Warhol moved house many times in New York; first living in cockroach-infested, cold-water flats in various locations. In 1952 he rented a fourth floor flat at 242 Lexington Avenue and in the spring his mother, Julia, moved in with him as his housekeeper. They slept on mattresses on the floor of the single bedroom. then Andy rented the flat on the second floor of the building, above Shirley’s Pin-Up Bar night club, leaving Julia in the fourth floor flat. Andy was using his living room as his studio with the TV on and his stereo blaring the day’s pop record on repeat. He had hired his first assistant, Vito Giallo in 1954, introduced by Nathan Gluck, who the following year, would take over as Andy’s assistant.

Well, back to Warhol and silkscreens. Warhol always wanted to be accepted as a proper artist, but was generally regarded as a commercial artist and was having difficulty getting his art shown in galleries. He had approached Leo Castelli , who represented both Rauchenberg and Johns but had been rejected. Fast forward to 1962. Andy’s Cambell’s Soup Can paintings had aroused a lot of media attention, even before they had been shown in a gallery (in fact they were first shown in Los Angeles in July 1962).

Elinor Ward, owner of the Stable Gallery, who represented, among others, Cy Twombly and Robert Indiana, wanted to meet Andy. She was taken to his apartment by the art critic Emile de Antonio. Ward offered Andy a show in her gallery on one condition–according to Bockris, she took out her lucky two dollar bill, and waving it in Andy’s face, said that she’d give him a show if he painted the bill. All Andy replied was “Wow!”

Andy had painted Coke bottles and Campbell’s soup cans and was looking for a way to be able to reproduce images faster than painting them. So in July, as Andy was trying to find a way to reproduce a hundred dollar bills, Nathan Gluck suggested he use silkscreens.  He immediately revisited some of his earlier subjects, Elvis, Troy Donahue, Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood and made silkscreens with several images of his idols on each. Then, on 4th August 1962, the same day his Soup Can show closed in Los Angeles, Marilyn Monroe died. Andy immediately decided to paint a series of portraits of her, using Gene Korman’s photo of her from the film Niagara as his subject and over the following months he produced 23 portraits in various colour combinations. First he painted a coloured background, then he sketched an outline by projecting the image onto the background and painted in eye shadow and lipstick and then he silkscreened the black and white image onto the prepared canvas.

Thus was born Warhol’s modus operandi for the rest of his career. In the future, he would take a photograph (or he would find a stock photo) of the subject to be portraited. He would take the photo to a printer who would blow the photo up to the required size (usually 40 x 40 inches) and make an acetate from which a silkscreen was prepared and Andy–or rather some assistant, with or without his help–would make the final painting or print. In effect, Andy’s only contribution to the process was either taking or choosing the photograph used in the work.

Then–just as Rauchenberg, did–he would store the screens so that they could be re-used later. Andy did this in the eighties when he made a series of “reversal” paintings, re-using the Marilyn screens to make a series of negative portraits. Now, the fact that Andy kept old screens may shed light on another series of artworks, namely his 1963 “Giant Size $1.57 Each” record covers. He collaborated with Billy Klüver on producing the original edition of 75 signed an numbered copies on white record cover stock. There are four further series, each of 75 copies on spray painted record sleeves. The covers were sprayed in red, green, orange and yellow paint and then silkscreened with the “Giant Size” image. These were released for sale in 1971. It is my guess that it was probably Klüver’s idea to remake the series as he seems to have been responsible for selling at least some of them. It is thus completely possible that he–or Andy, or one of Andy’s assistants–made the second batch of covers using the original screen, particularly as these were often unsigned and unnumbered.

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The five colour variations of the “Giant Size $1.57 Each” covers.

I’m Talking – “Lead the Way”, an Australian Single With a Warhol Cover.

Warhol cover collectors are constantly on the look out for previously unrecognised records with Andy Warhol’s  art on the cover. Warhol Cover Collector Club (WCCC) member Kevin Kinney seems to have an eye for them. He recently reported an 1985 Australian single by a band (improbably) called I’m Talking that reproduced Warhol’s print from around 1962 titled “Marilyn’s Lips”

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Andy Warhol’s “Marilyn’s Lips” print.

I’m Talking was formed in Melbourne, Australia in 1983 and had top ten hit singles in Australia with  “Trust Me”, “Do You Wanna Be?” and “Holy Word” Their 1986 album, “Bear Witness” made the top 15 in the Australian album charts. The band released ten singles between 1984 and 1986 and the “Bear Witness” LP in 1986 (there was also a compilation album “Dancing”, released in 1988). “Lead the Way”, the band’s third single was released in 1985 as a two-track seven inch and a limited edition three-track twelve inch maxi single, both with the same cover.

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I’m Talking’s “Lead the Way” 7″ single cover.

While each panel of Warhol’s original has 84 (12 x 7) images, the I’m Talking cover only shows 77 (11 x 7) images, but the cover art is unmistakably based on the left-hand panel of Warhol’s original(note the two sets of lips at bottom right on the cover, that match the botton two lips on the left-hand panel of Warhol’s original.) There is, however, no credit anywhere on the cover or record. I suppose that as the record was only released in Australia and New Zealand, Andy Warhol would not have heard about the use of his image on the cover.

Thank you Kevin for tipping us off on this one.

Warhol’s Portrait of Prince – Another Law Suit.

Andy Warhol painted his portrait of Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016) in 1984 and it appeared in the November issue of Vanity Fair that same year and was used for the cover of Conde Nast’s 2016 memorial magazine “The Genius of Prince”.

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The cover of Condé Nast’s Prince commemorative magazine.

 

Warhol always worked from photographs, usually, though with some famous exceptions, using ones he had taken himself–most commonly with his Polaroid camera.

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Andy Warhol’s portrait of Prince.

However, Prince was less than pleased with it, reportedly saying that Warhol’s portrait of MJ (Michael Jackson) was much better!

One photograph that Warhol did not take, however, was the basis for his Flower silkscreens in 1964. He found Patricia Caulfield’s photo of hibiscus flowers in a 1964 issue of the magazine Modern Photography and appropriated it.

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Patricia Caulfield’s hibiscus flower photograph.

Two years later Caulfield sued Warhol for infringement of copyright and in a settlement, Warhol offered her two sets of the Flowers prints; an offer Caulfield refused preferring a cash settlement.

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Lynn Goldsmith (2013).

In 1981, photographer Lynn Goldsmith had taken a publicity photo of Prince. Warhol’s portrait image looks suspiciously like it is copied from Goldsmith’s photograph and Goldsmith tried to achieve a settlement with the Warhol Foundation for the use of the image. However, the Warhol Foundation, in a preemptive move, decided to sue Goldmith to prevent her from taking legal action against it.

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Court comparison of Goldsmith’s photo (left) with Warhol’s portrait (right).

It seems that fair use laws in the U.S. mean that an artist may use other artists work as the basis for their own work and that Warhol’s art is protected under these laws. It seems that Lynn Goldsmith will not benefit from Warhol’s possible use of her original photograph.

 

Additions to My Collection of Andy Warhol Covers.

It has been an intensive few months on my Warhol front. I have added almost a dozen titles to my collection.

It started in July, when I finally managed to find an original copy of Aretha Franklin’s 1986 CD “Aretha”. This was the only CD with Andy Warhol’s art released in his lifetime, The CD was reissued with extra tracks as a double CD in 2014, but I wanted an original 1986 copy. They seem to be quite rare and it has taken me a long time to find one though it didn’t turn out to be too expensive.

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“Aretha” CD booklet.
The next records I found were by Diana Ross. First a rather battered copy of her 1983 single “Who / Anywhere You Run to” and a poster cover copy of “So Close / Fool for Your Love”, which was way more expensive than I really wanted to pay.

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Diana Ross “Who” 7″ single cover.

Then I found a copy of Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops’ “Latin Rhythms by the Boston Pops”, which I got reasonably cheap. I already had a nice copy that with the “A High Fidelity Recording” text below the RCA logo at top right. The copy I now got hold of didn’t have that text, but instead a gold sticker with the same text. My guess is that this was an earlier printing.

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Both versions of the “Latin Rhythms” EP. On the left with the gold sticker and on the right with “A HIFI Recording just visible below the RCA Victor logo at top right.
Then I was pleased to find a reasonably priced copy of the original Skyline bootleg album on the Four Stars label that I wrote about in a previous blog post.

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The original 1978 Skyline cover.
Next up was an Austrian bootleg of The Rolling Stones “Sticky Fingers” album with alternate takes and that used the photo of the Stones that had previously been used on the 1971 “Brown Sugar / Bitch / Let It Rock” EP and again on the numbered RSD reissue in 2011.

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The front cover of the Austrian bootleg of outtakes from the “Sticky Fingers” recording sessions.
I was in London for a few days in August and popped into HMV on Oxford Street where I found two copies of “The Velvet Underground & Nico” 50th anniversary edition, with a large black label on the shrink wrapper on the rear of the cover covering Eric Emerson’s “torso”  emulating the sticker used to cover his photo on the original 1967 release. I bought two copies in the hope that they might be the limited pink vinyl edition. Needless to say, they weren’t! However, I did manage to find a pink vinyl copy not long after. Apparently these were made in America in a limited edition of 1000 copies. The copies I bought at HMV were both pressed in Europe.

There are loads of interesting bootlegs with Andy Warhol art. I have been looking for a couple for quite some time. I have already mentioned the Skyline album with Warhol’s photo of Suzanne de Maria on the cover, another was another The Rolling Stones bootleg called “Live in Laxington” [sic] — a live recording from the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, recorded on 29th June 1978. The front cover is a typical bootleg cover picture, but the rear cover shows one of Warhol’s “biting” photos from 1975. This version has a green spatter vinyl. There is another black vinyl version with a plain cover á la Beggars Banquet.

The purchase that has given me the greatest thrill arrived at the end of September. I knew that there was a limited edition promotional folder of Miguel Bosé’s 1983 album “Made in Spain”. I had never seen one for sale until a copy appeared on Ebay in mid September. I put in a bid was was outbid. “Oh, Well…” I thought. It wasn’t meant to be. However, the following day I received a “second chance” as the high bidder couldn’t afford his final bid. So I got the set. The folder should contain white label versions of the full “Made in Spain” LP, a promo 12″ single “Fuego / Panama Connection” and a single-sided, white label 7″ single “Fuego” and an A4 booklet with a fold-out version of Warhol’s Bosé portraits. When the folder arrived, the singles were missing. The seller had another copy that also lacked the singles and couldn’t help provide them. But Discogs had a single copy of the white label 12″, which I snapped up and several copies of the single-sided, white label 7″ single, so that was easy to get and a little over a week later my foleder was complete with the LP, 12″ and 7″ and the booklet. What a great (and rare) addition to my collection. I laid out my /several) copies of “Made in Spain”, the Fuego 12″ and made a composite of Warhol’s Bosé portraits!

Another cover appeared on Ebay that was a pastiche of the “Velvet Underground & Nico” cover with a banana-shaped chocolate ice cream with “Peel Slowly and See” beside it. Peel the chocolate off to reveal the naked banana. The record is a 12″, three-track single “Family” by the Cru-el Grand Orchestra — a 1999 Japanese recording, whose cover was designed by Ukawa Naohiro (Mom’n’DaD Productions 222). Even the rear cover had a photo that I recognise from a record cover, but can’t place — perhaps a reader can help identify it.

There are several other coloured vinyl versions of “The Velvet Underground & Nico”, yellow, red and blue vinyl plus the Newbury Comics yellow/black vinyl. Now that I have the pink copy, do I have to get hold of the other colours too?

 

 

 

This Is (the Other Side of) John Wallowitch–A Rare Warhol Cover.

It has been my ambition to collect all record covers with Andy Warhol‘s art. Most of the seventies and eighties covers are relatively easy to find and shouldn’t cost the earth (an exception is Ultra Violet‘s eponymous LP from 1973), but the earlier ones, particularly the fifties covers have become increasingly expensive. And the original “Velvet Underground & Nico” (1967) along with many of it’s reissues are becoming increasingly expensive.

I have long searched for decent copies of Moondog‘s “The Story of Moondog“. While copies of the Moondog album do pop up relatively frequently on Ebay, most are in pretty poor condition with severely discoloured covers, but I had the great good fortune to find a near mint copy on Discogs which I bought as a Christmas present to myself.

The other major hole in my collection was John Wallowitch‘s second album for Serenus Records called “This Is (The Other Side of) John Wallowitch“. This album doesn’t come up for sale very often and bidding goes crazy on good copies. A reasonable copy popped up on Ebay in late January and despite having depleted my funds the previous month for the Moondog album, I managed to win it with a not too outrageous bid.

As can be seen, Wallowitch chose as the rear cover picture to reuse the “photo booth” photos taken by Warhol that were on the front cover of his previous Serenus Records release “This Is John Wallowitch“. It’s sort of ironic that the “Man of a Thousand Faces”, as stated on the front cover, is portrayed on the rear from the chin downwards, so one cannot see any of the thousand faces (actually, there are only 56 photos, or parts of photos on the cover, not thousands).

So now there are two of Warhol’s original covers and one bootleg that I need to complete my collection of Warhol’s record covers. These are the pink version of Prokofiev’s “Alexander Nevsky, Cantata Op 78” and the unobtainable “Night Beat” promotional box set that Guy Minnebach wrote about in his Andy Earhole blog (https://warholcoverart.com/2017/03/25/night-beat-rarest-of-the-rare/). Though I do have the facsimile box of the latter.
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The remaining bootleg I am still looking for is the limited edition of Keith Richards‘ “Unknown Dreams” (Outsider Bird Records, OBR 93009).

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Keith Richards’ bootleg “Unknown Dreams” with Warhol’s car drawing cover.

Will my collection ever be “complete”?

 

Alexander Nevsky – Columbia ML 4247 With 1949 Illustration by Andy Warhol

Sergei Prokofiev‘s  cantata “Alexander Nevsky, Opus 78” was written in 1938 as the soundtrack to Sergei Eisentein’s film of the same name. “Alexander Nevsky” was Prokofiev’s third film score; the others being “Lieutenant Kije” (1934) and “The Queen of Spades” (1936).

The first American performance took place on 7 March 1943 in an NBC Radio broadcast with Leopold Stokowski conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra and Jennie Tourel (mezzosoprano) as soloist. Eugene Ormandy gave the first concert performance of “Alexander Nevsky” a fortnight later, on 23rd March 1943 with the with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Westminster Choir , and Rosalind Nadell as soloist and in 1945 recorded the work in English for Columbia records with Jennie Tourel as soloist. The recording was forst released as a a 78 RPM album with cover art by Alex Steinweiss.

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Alex Steinweiss’ cover for the 1945 recording of Alexander Nevsky.

When Columbia Records introduced the 33 1/3 RPM long playing album in 1948 many of the old 78 RPM recordings were released in the new format. Alex Steinweiss, Art Director at Columbia, had not only designed the cover structure for the LP . The very first Columbia LP covers used a generic design based on the simplified capital of a Corinthian column.

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First cover design for Columbia LPs.

Steinweiss‘ next development was a new basic design layout with space for an illustration.

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Early Columbia LP cover with illustration.

Then his layout evolved with large blocks of colour on the front over which the record’s title and other information were printed. He also provided space for an illustration. These covers were introduced in 1949 and Steinweiss, who by this time was inundated with work, commissioned outside artists to provide the illustrations. These included the young Andrew Warhol as well as Jim Flora, and less well known artists such as Darryll Connoly. The 1949 re-issue of Ormandy‘s recording of “Alexander Nevsky” used this cover variation.

Andrew Warhola had graduated from the Pittsburgh College of Art and moved to New York to start work as a commercial artist. He contacted record companies trying to get commissions. Columbia Records was one he contacted. Steinweiss gave the young artist three commissions. The “Alexander Nevsky” was the second after Warhol‘s illustration for the re-issue of Columbia’s record “A Program of Mexican Music” by Carlos Chavez. Ten years had passed since Eisenstein‘s film was made but it was probable that Warhol saw the film at some stage. Guy Minnebach suggests that the his drawing was probably made from a film still.

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Warhol’s illustration for the cover of Alexander Nevsky showing the “Battle on the Ice”.

The first pressing–identifiable by the dark blue label “Columbia Masterworks” labels on the record itself and the fact that the front cover slick was pasted onto the front of the cover,  that folded over onto the rear and included the information on the spine.

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The first Columbia Records LP label was dark blue.

this first issue’s cover appeared in two shades of blue: the most common is a shade of pale

blue, but there is also a darker turquoise variation.

Sometime later, in the late 1950s or early 1960s, Columbia re-released this album.By this time the method of manufacturing LP covers had changed and the rear slick was pasted on first and overlapped the edges of the front cover and the spine text was now printed on the rear slick. Front slicks were then pasted onto the front, leaving a small margin of visible rear slick.

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The lower right corner of the 1950s Nevsky cover showing the front cover slick overlapping the rear slick.

At least three different colour variations of This re-issue’s records had the modernised Columbia Records labels, known as the “six-eye” label because of the six Columbia logos at three and nine o’clock.

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Columbia Records’ “six-eye”label introduced in the mid 1950s.

Three colour variations of the front cover art were produced over the years. I don’t know if this was intentional or due to the printers’  own decisions. There were green, orange and pink covers.
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I had hoped to be able to picture my own pink copy, but I haven’t managed to find one yet. This picture is from a recent Ebay sale that I bid on, but failed to win.

I only found my copy of the turquoise cover in early January 2017 and thought at first sight that it was one of the later green covers, though with the record with the dark blue label. I had to compare them to see the difference.

The picture shows the green cover on the left and the turquoise cover on the right. The difference is obvious, even without being able to see the difference in the way the covers are constructed.

Andy Warhol – Supernova: Stars, Deaths & Disasters 1962-1964. 2006 Exhibition at Art Gallery of Ontario.

In June 2013 I bought a press kit from the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Andy Warhol exhibition entitled “Supernova: Stars, Deaths & Disasters” which ran from July 8th to October 22nd, 2006. The exhibition was guest curated by film director David Cronenberg and the press pack contained two tickets for the exhibition, the hardcover catalogue and a CD entitled “Cronenberg on Warhol” housed in a gatefold sleeve with Warhol‘s “Elvis I” on the front and “Elvis II” on the rear. In addition to the press pack the Art Gallery of Ontario produced a limited edition poster of the “Elvis I and II” in an edition of (I think) 1000 and a set of four pins advertising the exhibition.

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There are copies of the print on Ebay offered at over CAD 2000, which seems excessive for such a large run of prints. But, until recently, I had never heard of the four pin set.
Warhol buttons

I thought these were unusual and rather cool so I bought myself a set to add to the press pack. I have decided to pass on the Elvis I & II print as it is on the CD cover.