Category Archives: Andy Warhol

More on the “Giant Size $1.57 Each” cover

Andy Warhol produced the “Giant Size $1.57  Each” sleeve in five variations with the help of Billy Klüver, who had recorded the interviews with the artists involved in the “Popular Images” exhibition at the (now defunkt) Washington Gallery of Modern Art that ran from 18th April until 2nd June, 1963. The exact history is not known. A first edition of 75 sleeves with black image screened directly onto the coated stock record sleeve, each signed and numbered on verso was produced in 1963. He could even have printed the coloured covers at the same time or, having saved the screen, made them in 1971. Editions of 75 copies each, silkscreening the black “Giant Size” image onto sleeves that he had first spray painted. There were yellow, green, red and orange editions. These were sold in 1971.

Many covers have included the record from the “Popular Images” exhibition, possibly because Billy Klüver had a stock of the LPs. The record, comprising interviews with all eleven artists whose works were shown at the exhibition was recorded by Billy Klüver and originally came in a cover designed by Jim Dine. It seems, however, that the “Giant Size” cover was not shown at the exhibition.

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Copies of the cover with or without the record have changed hands for anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000, making them unattainable for most collectors of Andy Warhol’s record sleeve art.

However, the technique should be easy to replicate and the “Giant Size $1.57  Each” image is easy to find and reproduce. All that is needed is the right materials. Sufficient 12-inch record sleeves, spray paints, a silk screen and emulsion for transferring the image from overhead film to the screen. Then acrylic paint to screen the image onto the pre-prepared covers.

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So, having foraged for all the materials I set to work and spent 2 1/2 hours spraypainting record sleeves in the four colours.

GiantSize_RedUntil all four colours were sprayed.

I had put my name down to go a silkscreen course and was one of six “pupils” to participate on the weekend of October 12-13th. I intended to make ten sets of five covers and silkscreen the “Giant Size $1.57  Each” design onto two T-shirts.

The silkscreen with the "Giant Size $1.57  Each" image in reverse together with the overhead from which the image was taken.
The silkscreen with the “Giant Size $1.57 Each” image in reverse together with the overhead from which the image was taken.

Then I got down to silkscreening the covers, beginning with the yellow ones. Orange, green and red covers followed and finally, when had learned the technique better, I screened the white, unsprayed sleeves. I had ordered 50 covers – so no room for error. Unfortunately there were a few poor screens so I will need more covers to complete the ten sets I had planned.

The five members of our informal Warhol Cover Collectors Club have contributed to the production of these covers and will each receive a set of all five colours,

Silkscreening the first cover.
Silkscreening the first cover.
The first yellow sleeves screened.
The first yellow sleeves screened.
One set of five screened sleeves.
One set of five screened sleeves.

“Night Beat” – a rare promo set for radio from 1949

In my recent list of the rarest Warhol record covers, I put the “Night Beat” promotional box of three 45 RPM EPs at number 2. Top of the list is the “Progressive Piano” cover, which was never released. However, there is – as far as I know – only one known copy of the “Night Beat” box; the one in Paul Maréchal’s collection. Not even The Warhol Museum has a copy. Matt Wrbican, Chief Archivist at The Warhol, told me in a recent email, that the radio stations that received the “Night Beat” boxes would, in all probability, have thrown them away once the episode had been broadcast, which probably means that very few have survived. Indeed, I have never seen a copy appear on Ebay or in art galleries.

So what is a poor collector to do if he/she wants to complete a collection? The answer, of course, is to make a copy. Using the picture in Paul Maréchal’s book as a starting point and with the help of my daughter who performed some Photoshop magic and Urban Westling, at Urban Print, who did some further tweeking in InDesign and printed the result, I made a slick that would cover a standard EP box. Once I had the slick it only took about fifteen mintes to glue it over the old, discarded box of EPs and the result was way beyond my expectations.

The "Night Beat" box
The “Night Beat” box

My main problem has been finding suitable boxes here at home in order to supply all the members of The Warhol Cover Club with their own boxes. Founder member, Kevin Kinney and his wife have volunteered to find more boxes for me and as soon as they arrive I will make more boxes.

The “yellow” MTV High Priority cover, André Heller’s “Stimmenhögen” and a rare “Alexander Nevsky”

Some time ago founder member of the Warhol Cover Collectors Club, Kevin Kinney, found a variant of the “MTV – High Priority” LP cover that few, if any, of us knew existed. Instead of the red shading to the MTV-logo on the front, the shading was yellow and the titles along the top of the front cover were in black print instead of white, red and blue. I’ve been checking every copy that I have seen on Ebay looking for a yellow version but to no avail. Then one came up a week or so ago and I was about to “buy it now” when it disappeared. Fellow collector Niklas L had seen it first and nabbed it! But, having sent Niklas some of my fabricated “Progressive Piano” and other covers for his collection he very generously thanked me by sending the yellow “MTV – High Priority” album together with André Heller’s “Stimmenhögen” LP. Even this turned out to be unusual. Two versions were listed on Rate Your Music – one on the Electrola and one on the HMV label. The copy Niklas sent me was also on the HMV label, but with a completely different catalogue number from those listed on RYM.

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The only reason to have the Heller LP is the fact that the booklet inside the gatefold has a little Warhol drawing on one page (pictured above). In 1981 Heller was photographed by Warhol and two Polaroids from this session were recently sold by Christies.

Two original Polaroid prints of André Heller taken by Andy Warhol in 1981 recently sold at Christies.
Two original Polaroid prints of André Heller taken by Andy Warhol in 1981 recently sold at Christies.

The picture in the lyric booklet is probably Warhol’s portrait of Heller which, judging by Heller’s pose with arms crossed must have been done on that occasion. It fits with the Polaroids, which show him bare to the waist, arms crossed and wearing leather trousers. I suppose Heller chose to include the drawing to show that Warhol had done a portrait of him. I do not suppose that Warhol did the drawing specifically for this record cover. One could argue that the Swan Lake and Daphnis & Chlöe albums from 1955 with Warhol drawings fall into the same category, but Warhol did those drawings specifically for the albums and they illustrate the ballet content. However, one could say that the portraits on the covers of many albums definitely listed as being Warhol covers (Aretha Franklin, Billy Squier, Paul Anka, Liza Minnelli, John Lennon etc.) were not painted specifically for the record covers. So do I include the Heller album as a bona fide Warhol cover or not?

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An unusual copy of Prokofiev’s “Alexander Nevsky” LP came up on Ebay last week. This had the original 1949 cover design but with orange colour blocks. I have previously seen blue, green and pink versions, but never an orange one. and I wonder if the colour variations were later pressings of the album. This one definitely is. The record has Columbia Records’ “6-eye” label rather than the Dark blue Columbia Masterworks label used since the introduction of the LP in 1948. According to Ron Penndorf’s Labelography the grey”6-eye” label was introduced in 1955 and phased out in 1962. As may be seen from the label picture, the designation “Unbreakable” appears to the left of the spindle hole, indicating – again according to Labelography – that this is a later pressing; probably late fifties or early sixties. I find it fascinating that Columbia chose to keep the original cover design from 1949 on this repressing rather than commission a new cover.

A couple of interesting posters and an early catalogue

I’ve divested myself of the majority of my concert and art posters but have kept a few that I particularly like. When I sold my record and poster collection, the buyers, knowing that I collect Klaus Voormann’s record cover art promised me a signed, numbered edition of Klaus Voormann’s portrait of John Lennon. I collected it the other day.

Signed limited edition poster: An Evening with Music of John Lennon.
Signed limited edition poster: An Evening with Music of John Lennon.

It joins my signed Banana poster from 1981-2. Nationalmuseum in Stockholm presented a huge exhibition of record cover art from 27th October 1981 – 17th January 1982. This was the year before the CD was introduced so all covers were of vinyl releases. I still have the exhibition catalogue from the Nationalmuseum’s exhibition – which has the Velvet Underground & Nico LP design on its cover. The catalogue has an eight page review of Warhol’s cover art and pictures six covers (two Kenny Burrell, one Johnny Griffin, Two Rolling Stones and – the obligatory – Velvet Underground & Nico) written by Bo Nilsson. This must be the first anaytical review of Warhol’s record cover art that I ever read. Of course, only a few warhol covers were recognised in 1981, so the choice of these six is hardly surprising.

I felt that the covers in the exhibition were arranged rather haphazardly and I wrote a three-page letter to Nationalmuseum suggesting how the covers could have been better presented. I did not expect a reply, but one came by return informing me that the exhibition was moving to Umeå’s Bildmuseum and that the museum would contact me to discuss which covers should be included. They did, too! and about thirty of my covers were included in the Umeå exhibition.

Catalogue from Nationalmuseum's exhibition of record cover art.
Catalogue from Nationalmuseum’s exhibition of record cover art.
Theposter from Stockholm's Nationalmuseum's record cover art exhibition 1981-1982.
Theposter from Stockholm’s Nationalmuseum’s record cover art exhibition 1981-1982.

In 2008, as discussions about putting on the “Happy Birthday Andy Warhol” exhibition in Piteå were underway a copy of the poster for the Nationalmuseum’s record cover exhibition came up for sale. This was a one-off and beautifully signed by Andy Warhol in pencil. So it was included in the Piteå exhibition and has since then hung on my wall.