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Collecting Record Cover Art as an Investment.

This post is going to be rather philosophical. Why collect record cover art? Well, I started as I was interested in music and I found that I would prefer to buy a record with music that I liked if it had a more attractive cover. My collection began with a collection of cover art by Vaughan Oliver and his collectives 23 Envelope and V23. I built up a super collection of releases primarily on the 4AD label — not only records and CDs — but also a large number of posters. I had all the really rare items designed by Vaughan Oliver and Chris Bigg including the famous Lonely Is an Eyesore wooden box and two copies of the Lilliput CD promo book. Vaughan Oliver autographed both the Eyesore box and a Lilliput book when I went on a pilgrimage to his studio in South London in 2001. I sold my whole Vaughan Oliver collection in 2010-2013.

I started collecting Andy Warhol’s record cover art in 1967, when I bought the Velvet Underground & Nico album at One Stop Records in London’s South Moulton Street. I confess I didn’t realise its greatness until a couple of decades later, but that didn’t stop me from buying White Light / White Heat the following year — again on US import at One Stop. So I had two Andy Warhol covers. That was the start of the collection. I bought the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers when it came out in April 1971 and their Love You Live in 1977. I got my fifth Warhol cover in 1982, when my family bought me Diana Ross’s Silk Electric as a Fathers’ Day present. From there I started looking for Warhol covers and gradually (and with the help of ace Warhol collector, Guy Minnebach) managed to collect every known Warhol cover by 2008, when Guy and I curated an exhibition of Warhol’s record cover art at Piteå Museum in northern Sweden arranged to celebrate what would have been Andy Warhol’s 80th birthday on 6th August 2008.

At the same time I had collected a representative collection of Peter Blake’s record cover art, including records, posters and books with a few rarities. I also noticed that I had several records with covers designed by Klaus Voormann; the Beatles’ Revolver (of course), Manfred Mann’s As Is, the Bee Gees first album and all three Beatles Anthology albums (on vinyl) and, when Klaus visited Stockholm in 2003 he kindly signed several album covers for me. So I continued collecting his covers, too, and now have almost every cover he has designed.

Around 2008, my son-in-law wondered if I would like to invest in a print by a street artist called Banksy, who had an exhibition in Stockholm. I passed on that (stupid, or what?) But, I had seen Blur live at Hultsfred’s Festival in 1996 and had all their albums and I had even bought the Think Tank LP in 2003 — my first Banksy cover. Then, in around 2008, I happened to find a couple of record covers designed by Banksy and found a contact on the Internet who was trying to offload his collection of Banksy-designed record covers. They were cheap at that time and I bought quite a few. As my Bansky collection grew, so did the prices for the rare items. A DJ, who was about to get married and needed money, offered me a copy of Röyksopp’s Melody A.M. promo double LP with the Bansky-sprayed cover for what was an exorbitant amount back than, but which I’m today glad I paid. I later added both versions of Banksy’s / Danger Mouse’s Paris Hilton CD (the original first issue and the reissued second release.) Since then my Banksy collection has been exhibited in a number of Banksy retrospectives.

I started to collect Andy Warhol’s record cover art as I am a Warhol fan. I have always loved his art and found I couldn’t afford to buy any original works. But his record covers were affordable and easy to store, much easier that hanging prints or paintings. I started collecting his covers when they were affordable and could even trade rare covers for others that I didn’t have. I had no idea that many would become valuable. I have been lucky to find several covers signed by Warhol to add to my collection.

A similar situation has happened with my Banksy collection. Bought first for the art and in an attempt to collect a complete collection of Banksy’s official and inofficial covers I found that I had made an investment. I have no idea what my collection is currently worth.

But what about my other collections? My Peter Blake collection of record and CD covers could still be bought for only a little more that I originally bought the covers for. Similarly, I don’t think there would be much interest in my collection of Klaus Voormann’s covers; although I treasure them both.

I have recently started to collect record, cassette and CD covers designed by David Shrigley. A couple of years ago, my wife and I had a wonderful meal at Sketch, a London restaurant who’s walls were decorated with Shrigley’s paintings and posters. As I have said in a previous post, I was lucky to get David Shrigley to sign my copy of Castle Face Record’s version of Velvet Underground & Nico cover, and so started my collection of David Shrigley’s record cover art. His posters and prints are now well beyond my budget, but his record, tape and CD sleeves are still very affordable. I wonder if they will one day, like my Warhol and Banksy covers, prove to be a sound investment, too.

I should emphasise, though, that I didn’t start collecting record cover art as an investment, but because I liked the art. That it has proved to be an investment only adds icing to the cake.

Records as Art — David Shrigley.

David Shrigley is a hugely popular artist, sculptor and poet. He has recorded a number of singles, albums, CDs and cassettes with a variety of coworkers. Other artists have recorded his poems. As I wrote in a recent post, I first came into contact with Shrigley’s art when I bought Castle Face Record’s cover of the Velvet Underground & Nico‘s seminal album, for which Shrigley had re-imagined Andy Warhol’s Banana cover.

Since then I have so far come across twenty-one records, books (with records), cassettes and CDs that feature Shrigley’s conceptual art.

BallboyA Guide for the Daylight Hours2002
BlurGood Song2003
David ShrigleyForced to Speak With Others2006
David ShrigleyDing Dong2006
DeerhoofThe Perfect Me2006
DeerhoofFriend Opportunity2007
CompilationHallam Foe (Soundtrack)2008
CompilationWorried Noodles2008
White NightWhite Night (7-inch picture disc)2008
Jason MrazWe Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.2008
David Shrigley / Thee Oh SeesGallerie Fieber edition (2 x 7-inch singles)2011
David ShrigleyBrain Activity (book + 7-inch single)2011
Castle Face & Friends Velvet Underground & Nico 2012
Stephen Malkmus & FriendsCan’s Ege Bamyasi2013
Iain Shaw & David ShrigleyAwesome2013
David ShrigleyI Am an Actor (7-inch picture disc)2013
Malcolm Middleton & David ShrigleyMusic + Words 2014
Iain Shaw & David ShrigleyListening to Slayer (7-inch EP)2016
Lord Stornaway & David ShrigleyDon’t Worry (pink vinyl 12″ LP)2018
David ShrigleyGoat Music (Book + 12″ LP)2019
David Shrigley & Régis LaugierPlay Something Awful2020
David Shrigley’s discography

Several of Shrigley’s records were released in association with exhibitions of his work in galleries and museums. The earliest release that I have thus far found that features Shrigley’s art is for a 2002 CD A Guide for the Daylight Hours by Ballboy. Paul Coombs tipped me off about the second David Shrigley cover for Blur’s Good Song DVD release. David Shrigley had directed the music video and drew the cover art for the DVD single.

In 2006 Shrigley released an LP and CD entitled Forced to Speak With Others: the LP included a poster. The same year he released a seven inch single, Ding Dong, that played a doorbell’s DING on side A and the same doorbell’s DONG on side B. Brilliant conceptual art! This single was released in connection with Shrigley’s exhibition at the Dundee Contemporary Arts museum. In December 2006, Deerhoof released a picture disc single, The Perfect Me, from their forthcoming Friend Opportunity album and original copies contained twelve different cover variations which Shrigley painted .

Three releases with Shrigley’s cover art appeared in 2007: Deehoof’s Friend Opportunity in January and a soundtrack collection CD called Hallam Foe. In addition a book with a series of tracks by a variety of artists recording of Shrigley’s lyrics called Worried Noodles was released. Shrigley had had an exhibition at the Center for Curatorial Studies’ Bard Museum between September 30 – December 14, 2001. Apparently the museum released a book called Worried Noodles in the form of an LP record, though it only contained a card printed to look like an LP.

More recent exhibitions include one at the BQ Gallery in Berlin in 2018. The Gallery had already released Shrigley’s I Am an Actor 7-inch picture disc single in 2013 and released an LP for this exhibition called Don’t Worry. This was a further collaboration with guitarist Iain Shaw.

Probably the rarest of Shrigley’s exhibition releases is the split release together with the band Thee Oh Sees (a.k.a Osees), released as a limited edition (200 copies) double 7-inch on pick vinyl in special packaging drawn by Shrigley.

I suspect that David Shrigley is as obsessed with records as I am. He has designed a frisbee with the text I Collect Records — I Am Obsessed With them.

Andy Warhol’s Unreleased Record Cover Designs.

There are currently 68 known record covers with designs or illustrations by Andy Warhol (not counting colour variations or variations in format — LP or 7″) produced in his lifetime–the exact number is unknown as new covers with his illustrations/designs seem to turn up with monotonous regularity as soon as there has been an exhibition purporting to show his complete oeuvre. A case in point being the discovery of Paul Desmond’s 1963 Take Ten LP found in 2019 just as the Warhol 1968 exhibition at Moderna Museet in Malmö, closed, where a “complete” collection of Warhol’s covers was shown.

In addition, there are countless record and CD covers that use Warhol’s art released since his death. There are also designs for at least six record sleeves that Warhol made that were never released. These are:
Progressive Piano — a Various Artists compilation — planned for release by RCA Records, both as a 10″ LP and as 7″ EP (probably a double EP) as RCA allocated catalogue numbers for both formats. Lithographs of these covers are in the collection of The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

Progressive Piano – 10″ LP, RCA Victor LJM-3001.

Progressive Piano – RCA Victor 45EP-EJB 3001.


– Four designs for a Billie Holiday four-track EP entitled Volume 3, probably aimed at Columbia Records, as the songs were recorded for that company’s subsidiaries. The song titles were written on the covers of two of the designs. There are four songs on one and seven on the second. The songs are:
Did I Remember?
I’ll Never Be the Same
They Say
Georgia on My Mind
I’m in a Low Down Groove
Romance in the Dark
Night and Day
No Regret
We do not know if these designs were actually commissioned or were simply Warhol’s own idea. No single record with these titles seems to have been released.

I first read about the four designs for the Billie Holiday covers in 2015 in Guy Minnebach’s excellent Andy Earhole blog. You can read his post here. And I’ve been thinking about trying to recreate them on record covers.

All these designs must be from the early 1950s. The Progressive Piano collection was probably as early as 1952 and the Billie Holiday designs I would guess were made around 1953 or 1954 as they are somewhat in the style of the drawings Warhol made for Margarita Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish and that appeared on the record covers to the two albums of pronunciation exercises that accompanied the book, published in 1953.

I made reproductions of the Progressive Piano LP and double 7″ EP several years ago and these have been included in exhibitions of Andy Warhol’s record cover art; most recently at Moderna Museet in Malmö, in 2019.

Recreating the Billie Holiday covers is much more difficult. Redrawing Warhol’s sketches means finding pens that can imitate Warhol’s lines. Then painting the colours round his drawings. So far I have attempted three of the covers:

There is a lot more work need to make them even remotely like Warhol’s originals. I hope I’ll be able to post more polished results sometime in the future.

Chu Bops Bubble Gum with Record cover Art.

You may have read my recent post on Anonymouse’s installation of a miniature record store in Lund, Sweden, displaying tiny record covers that parody well known covers, giving them a murine slant.

I seem to remember seeing bubblegum packed in miniature record sleeves in the late sixties or seventies but I only recently saw the ones manufactured by Amural Products Company and called Chu Bops in the 1980s. I have seen more than seventy different covers:
– The Beatles (16 covers)
– Rolling Stones (ten covers)
– Elvis Presley (eight covers)
and diverse covers by:
Abba, Air Supply, Allman Brothers, ARS, Pat Benatar, Blondie (two covers), Blue Öyster Cult, David Bowie, Brothers Johnson, Charlie Daniels Band, Commodores, Crystal, Neil Diamond, ELO, Foghat, Heart, Isley Brothers, Billy Joel (two covers), Jefferson Starship, Judas Priest (two covers), The Kinks, The Knack (two covers), Little River Band, Loverboy, Meat Loaf, Willie Nelson, Juice Newton, Gary Numan, Robert Palmer, Teddy Pendergrass, Rush, Santana, John Schneider, Rex Smith, Southside Johnny & The Ashbury Dukes, Spinners, James Taylor, Pat Travers Band, Stevie Winwood,

Each cover is three inches (9 cms) square and contains a pink bubblegum disc made to resemble a record.

There are even shop displays with Beatles or Rolling Stones covers and LP-sized collectors covers into which you could save your bubblegum records.

The Chu Bop Rolling Stones collection includes both Sticky Fingers and Love You Live covers that would fit in my collection of Andy Warhol covers and The Beatles collection includes the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover that would be a nice addition to my Peter Blake cover collection. The completist in me says that I should add them to my album cover collection.
Peter Blake:

The Chu Bops Sgt. Pepper cover beside the full size LP cover.

Klaus Voormann:

The Chu Bops Revolver cover beside the full size LP cover.

Andy Warhol:

The Chu Bops Sticky Fingers and Love You Live covers with a matchbox to show their size.

I think these covers make an interesting addition to my collection. As far as I can see Chu Bops don’t seem to have produced any other covers by cover artists I collect.

Ricotta Records–A New REcord shop in Lund, Sweden.

The Ricotta Records shopfront. Photo Anonymouse.

There’s a creative group in the town of Lund in Southern Sweden called Anonymous, that makes miniature shops that suddenly appear on the streets and attract the attention of passers-by. They seem to appear magically by night. There has been an Indian restaurant, a detective bureau, a pharmacy and a jazz club, a barbers shop, and, most recently, a record shop called Ricotta Records.

There are fourteen record covers in the shop window.

The shop is packed with record sleeves, and rock posters, all in miniature format. People have gone to amazing lengths to recreate actual record covers but given them a murine twist.

The Anonymouse Instagram post attracted followers to design their own mouse-associated covers.

I’d love to do some miniature covers of my own, but I seem to lack the inspiration to mousify any of my favourites. But all cred to Anonymous for making this great addition to the streets of Lund.

The Record Cover Art of Sir Peter Blake–A Discography.

I have written about Dave Haslam’s little monograph “A Life in Thirty-Five Boxes–How I Survived Selling My Record Collection” (Contingo Publishing, 2019) in a previous post. In it, Haslam classifies collectors into either completists or surveyors (that’s my term not his.) I’m a completist–If I collect record covers by a particular artist, I HAVE to have EVERY cover by that artist, whereas those whom I call “surveyors” can collect odd items that represent their subject without the encumbrance of having to get every single item in the field.

As everyone who reads my blog knows, my particular obsessions are collecting record cover art by (in alphabetical order–obsessive again?) Banksy, Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, Klaus Voormann and Andy Warhol. I have almost complete collections of these artists. I have to stress the word “almost”. I have many times boasted that I have complete collections of Banksy’s, Peter Blake’s and Damien Hirst’s record cover art and, as near as dammit, complete collections of Klaus Voormann’s and Warhol’s record covers. When it comes to my Warhol collection, I have been able to fill the gaps by making my own reproductions of the rarest items, however, I’m missing one Voormann cover which I probably will never find…

But, back to Sir Peter Blake and my “complete” collection. Obviously I cannot have a cover of a record that has not yet been released (I refer to the forthcoming album by The Who discussed in my last post) but I reckoned I had ALL the other Peter Blake covers. WRONG! So it’s time for a revised list.

  1. The Beatles — Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – June 1967
  2. Pentangle – Sweet Child – 1968
  3. Chris Jagger – The Adventures of Valentine Vox the Ventriloquist – 1974
  4. Roger McGough – Summer With Monika – 1978
  5. The Who – Face Dances – 1981
  6. English Chamber Orchestra / Steuart Bedford / Daniel Blumethal – Rhapsody in Blue / Piano Concerto in F / An American in Paris – 1983
  7. Ian Dury – Apples (LP) – 1989
  8. Ian Dury – Apples (7”) – 1989
  9. Eric Clapton – 24 Nights  (gatefold LP)– 1981
  10. Eric Clapton – 24 Nights (promotional box set of 7″ singles) – 1981
  11. Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (7”) – 1991
  12. Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (collectors CD) – 1991
  13. Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas – 1984
  14. Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas (reissue) – 1985
  15. Paul Weller – Stanley Road LP – 1995
  16. Paul Weller – Stanley Road (7” Box) – 1995
  17. A Stranger Shadow – Colours (CD only) – 1995
  18. David Sylvian – A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil (12”) – 1986
  19. David Sylvian – A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil (picture disc) – 1986
  20. Various Artists – Brand New Boots and Panties—Tribute to Ian Dury –2001
  21. Brian Wilson – Gettin’ in Over My Head (orange vinyl double LP)–2004
  22. Eric Clapton – Me and Mr. Johnson (Classic Records 200g LP) – 2004
  23. Oasis – Stop the Clocks (3LP) – 2006
  24. Oasis – Stop the Clocks (numbered 7”) – 2006
  25. Oasis – Stop the Clocks (CD in card cover) – 2006
  26. Oasis — Champagne Supernova (promotional, single-sided 12″) — 2006
  27. Various Artists – John Peel–Right Time, Wrong Speed (CD only) – 2006
  28. The Blockheads – Staring Down the Barrel (CD only) – 2009
  29. Ben Waters – Boogie for Stu: A Tribute to Ian Stewart (gatefold double LP) – 2011
  30. Eric Clapton – Me and Mr. Johnson (re-issue LP in gatefold sleeve) – 2011
  31. Madness – Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da (double LP) – 2012
  32. Paul Weller – Dragonfly (numbered 12”) – 2012
  33. Eric Clapton – I Still Do (Double 45 rpm LP) – 2016
  34. Eric Clapton – I Still Do (CD in card sleeve) – 2016
  35. Paul Weller – Stanley Road (Reissue LP in gatefold sleeve) — 2017
  36. John Cooper Clarke — The Luckiest Guy Alive (CD) — 2018
  37. The Who – WHO (triple LP) – 2019
  38. The Who – WHO (double LP) – 2019
  39. The Who – WHO (cassette) – 2019
  40. The Who – WHO (deluxe CD) – 2019

Please note that this list is heavily weighted towards vinyl releases but I have had to include a few CDs and a cassette for completeness. I had not previously known about the David Sylvian’s “A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil” single or Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova” promotional 12″. So how many other Blake covers do I not know about?

Sylvian-MikeS-fr
David Sylvian’s “A Little Girl Deams of Taking the Veil”, 12″ EP uses Peter Blake’s “Just at this moment, somehow or other, they began to run”, One of Blake’s 1970 illustrations of “Alice in Wonderland”. Peter Blake has signed this cover.

 

David Sylvian-Veil-pic-fr
A picture disc of the “A Little Girls Dreams of Taking the Veil” single.

 

Chapagne S-signed-fr
OASIS’ “Champagne Supernova (Lynch Mob Beats Mix) promo, single-sided, 12” single. Cover signed by Peter Blake

While Peter Blake is consistantly producing new works in a variety of formats, paintings, prints and collages, he has only produced 27 individual record cover designs (increased to the 38 listed in various formats) in fifty-seven years. I look forward to the arrival of The Who’s latest album and hope that the 87-year-old will continue to design even more.

“WHO”–Peter Blake Designs the Who’s 2019 Album Cover.

Sir Peter Blake is still at it! At the age of 87 he is still very productive, making a variety of works including paintings, prints, and, what interests me most, record cover designs. So far he has produced a total of 27 record covers in the past fifty-two years!

The latest record cover he designed was Eric Clapton‘s 2016 “I Still Do“, on which Eric used Peter Blake‘s portrait of him. This portrait harks back to Clapton‘s 1981 live album “24 Nights“. Peter Blake didn’t know Eric prior to being asked to paint his portrait, which was planned to be the cover picture for the “24 Nights” album. Blake watched Clapton and his band at rehearsals and concerts in Dublin, Brixton and the Royal Albert Hall and got to know Clapton well and they became firm friends. Blake sketched while watching Clapton and his band perform and produced a series of drawings, but no portrait of Clapton. It would take a further thirty-four years before Blake finally painted Clapton‘s portrait.

EC-I Still Do-fr
Peter Blake’s 2015 portrait of Eric Clapton.

Just this month (September 2019), The Who announced that they will be releasing new album on 22nd November 2019 called, quite simply, “WHO” and that Pete Townsend‘s pal Peter Blake had designed the cover.

IMG_0912
Petr Blake’s cover for The Who’s 2019 album “WHO”.

The cover design uses elements from a recent series of Peter Blake prints entitled “The Sources of Pop Art” and is reminiscent of the cover for Paul Weller‘s “Stanley Road” album cover from 2005.

Stanley Road
The cover of Paul Weller’s 2005 album “Stanley Road”.

The Who‘s “Who” album will be the 28th record cover that Peter Blake has designed. The Album will be released on 22nd November 2019 and special limited editions are available on The Who’s official site.

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The limited edition tripple vinyl, Deluxe CD and cassette edition of “WHO”.

Andy Warhol – The Artist Who Died Twice.

In a recent post I investigated Andy Warhol’s medical history, concentrating on the story of the heroic Dr Guiseppe Rossi’s lifesaving treatment of the seriously wounded Andy Warhol and on his gallbladder disease and final operation and his unnecessary death in 1987. Since that post, I have been researching Andy’s medical history in more depth using several biographical sources. Finding Andy’s medical history was relatively easy. Using several sources, probably every illness can be identified. However, none of the sources I have thus far read have even begun to discuss Andy’s mental health.

Reading Victor Bockris’s and Bob Colacello’s biographies gives some insights, but neither tries to discuss Andy’s psychological health. There are other books that do look at aspects of Warhol’s mental health. Claudia Kalb discusses Andy’s hoarding while Brian Dillon examines his hypochondria.

Reading Bockris’s and Collacello’s biographies one gets the feeling that Andy couldn’t have been a particularly ‘nice’ person. The biographies show that Andy was born in Pittsburgh in relative poverty. He was his parents’ third son, but the couple had had a daughter, born in Miková, then in the Austro-Hungarian empire, but now in Slovakia, near the Polish border. The girl died after only six weeks. Ondrej, Andy’s father (after whom he was named) was a hard worker and often had to travel away to work. So the three boys would be brought up mainly by their mother, Julia. The family was poor and Julia worked cleaning houses and making toys out of tin cans which she sold for 25 cents. Ondrej was thrifty and saved money to be able to send his youngest son to college. He hadn’t been able to afford to send his two elder sons — they started working early in life. Ondrej had recurrent jaundice that improved after his gallbladder was removed in 1939. However, his liver later began to fail and he was housebound for the last year of his life, dying in 1942 at the age of 55, when his son Andrew was only 14 year old.

Julia’s English wasn’t good. The family lived in cramped conditions and had a poor diet. Soups were often what they ate. Andy’s childhood illnesses made him closer to his mother. Remember, she had already lost her first born child. At the age of two, Andy had swollen inflamed eyes, which necessitated bathing them with boric acid solution. When he was four he fell and broke his arm. He didn’t tell his mother and it was several months before it was noted that his arm was crooked and he went to a doctor. It was necessary to re-break his arm to straighten it. In 1936, when Andy was six, he caught scarlet fever and developed Sydenham’s chorea, tremor and muscular weakness. He was confined to bed for several weeks and when he had apparently recovered he had a relapse and was again sent back to bed. A further consequence of the illness was that it left his skin blotchy and it would be a problem for him for the rest of his life. He also had problems with pimples and is nose was lumpy and ugly. He became very concerned about his appearance. And in addition, in his twenties, he began losing his hair and took to wearing wigs.

Andy began using various cosmetics to hide his blotchy skin and pimples and visited dermatologists at first searching for a cure, but later for collagen injections to fill out his sunken cheeks, the result of his inadequate diet because of his gallbladder disease. In the mid 1950s he had a procedure to sandpaper down his bulbous and swollen nose, but the treatment provided only a temporary result and he felt his nose was worse afterwards. He took courses of tetracycline for his pimples.

Warhol always maintained that he did not take drugs, though his associates witnessed him dipping his finger in cocaine and smearing it on his gums while saying the he didn’t take it. However, as part of weight loss treatment he was prescribed Obetrol®, a mixture of four amphetamine preparations (a 10 mg capsule contained 2.5 mg methamphetamine saccharate, 2.5 mg methamphetamine hydrochloride, 2.5 mg racemic amphetamine sulphate, 2.5 mg dextroamphetamine sulphate, while the 20 mg capsule contained twice the amount of each constituent). Andy would continue to take these capsules twice daily for the rest of his life.

Andy’s mental health:
Andy Warhol was inordinately attached to his mother, taking her to live with him in New York. He was homosexual but had difficulty in forming longterm relationships. He was vain and deeply insecure, always seeking approbation and affirmation. He had a twofold aim in life, to be the most famous artist of the twentieth century and to become very rich. He lacked empathy, discarding friends and associates, often delegating uncomfortable decisions to others. He was stingy and underpaid his Factory employees. He even failed to pay the $3,000 bill from the surgeon who, in 1968, saved his life after Andy was shot and seriously wounded. The bill was found when one of WArhol’s Time Capsules was opened almost 30 years after Warhol’s death. Warhol also suffered periods of depression. In summary, he appears to have been a classic case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The DSM-V states:

The most important characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are grandiosity, seeking excessive admiration, and a lack of empathy. These identifying features can result in a negative impact on an individual’s interpersonal affairs and life general. In most cases, on the exterior, these patients act with an air of right and control, dismissing others, and frequently showcasing condescending or denigrating attitudes. Nevertheless, internally, these patients battle with strong feelings of low self esteem issues and inadequacy. Even though the typical NPD patient may achieve great achievements, ultimately their functioning in society can be affected as these characteristics interfere with both personal and professional relationships. A large part of this is as result of the NPD patient being incapable of receiving disapproval or rebuff of any kind, in addition to the fact that the NPD patient typically exhibits lack of empathy and overall disrespect for others.

But this isn’t really enough. Andy was a hoarder, another anxiety-based condition. DSM-V states that the symptoms of the hoarding disorder are:

  1. Persistent difficulty or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value.
  2. This difficulty is due to a perceived need to save the items and to distress associated with discarding them.
  3. The difficulty discarding possessions results in the accumulation of possessions that congest and clutter active living areas and substantially compromises their intended use. If living areas are uncluttered, it is only because of the interventions of third parties (e.g. Family members, cleaners, authorities).
  4. The hoarding causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning including ( including maintaining a safe environment for self and others).
  5. The hoarding is not attributable to another medical condition (eg., brain injury, cerebrovascular disease, Prader-Willis syndrome).
  6. The hoarding is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder (eg. Obsessions in obsessive-compulsive disorder, delusions in schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder, cognitive deficits in major neurocognitive disorder, restricted interests in autism spectrum disorder).

The hoarder engages in excessive acquisition, buys items that are unnecessary and they do not have have space for. The hoarder may have good insight and realise that their hoarding is a problem or have poor insight and not recognise their behaviour is unhealthy.
According to (DSM-5) 80-90% of hoarders also engage in excessive shopping and buying unnecessary items.

This describes to a tee Warhol’s shopaholic behaviour. He threw nothing away. Quite apart from filling his house with about 100,000 items that, on his death, many were found not to have been removed from the packaging in which he took them home, he accumulated 610 boxes of “stuff” from his Factory studio that he called “Time Capsules”. These, now in the Warhol Museum, contain invoices, unread letters, used postage stamps, broken toys, gifts, records, decaying pizza slices, and much else.

I have a theory that many artists have a touch of obsessive compulsive related disorder (OCRD). But are OCRD and hoarding related? There are cardinal differences as explained by in a 2014 article:

The disorders in the OCRDs category have both similarities and differences. Although all the disorders in this category have intrusive thoughts, these obsessional thoughts manifest somewhat differently. Some disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are characterized by classic obsessions. Obsessions are repetitive, unwanted, and intrusive thoughts that trigger anxiety. In other disorders, such as body dismorphic disorder (BDD) and hoarding disorder, the intrusive thoughts could be more aptly described as a persistent and unrelenting preoccupation. In the case of BDD, this preoccupation focuses on personal appearance and attractiveness. In the case of hoarding disorder, the preoccupation centers around possessions.

The intrusive thoughts of people with hoarding disorder are associated with their preoccupation regarding their possessions; specifically, parting with, or losing these possessions. Unlike spontaneous OCD obsessions, intrusive hoarding thoughts and resultant anxiety are not usually activated until faced with the prospect of losing or parting with possessions.

Andy’s preoccupation with his appearance–he always considered himself ugly–could perhaps be construed as a symptom of body dysmorphic disorder, BDD.

By all accounts Andy was not loved, more tolerated. There were, however, many sycophantic hangers on who wanted to share Warhol’s fame. His employees at the Factory called him “scrooge” because of his meanness. But Warhol was inordinately generous to people he wanted to impress, giving paintings and prints to potential clients or advertisers.

Over and above these personality disorders, Andy had several phobias. He was afraid of the dark from childhood. He was inordinately afraid if hospitals and doctors, despite having his own personal physician and regularly visiting dermatologists. It is unclear exactly when this fear of hospitals began; it could have been in his teens when his mother, Julia, was operated on for bowel cancer and ended up with a colostomy. Colacello states that it started n earnest after an operation in March 1969 to remove part of a bullet that remained in his body after he was shot by Valerie Solanas on June 3rd 1968. This inordinate fear was to cause him to delay having his gallbladder removed until his physical condition was poor. Unsurprisingly, Warhol became more paranoid after he was shot. Andy professed to a fear of flying. Early in his career choosing to cross America by car rather than fly. However, he seems to have overcome this later in his lie as he journeyed round the world to exhibitions.

I think we can conclude that Andy Warhol was a tortured soul. Biographical descriptions lead me to conclude that he probably suffered from at least three psychological disorders: narcissistic personality disorder, hoarding disorder and possible body dysmorphic disorder. However, his psychological deficiencies did not prevent him from producing amazing art that still influences twenty-first century art.

Sources:
Bockris, V. The Life and Death of Andy Warhol. 1989
Colacello, B. Holy Terror–Andy Warhol Close Up. HarperCollins, 1990.
Kolb, C. Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder- National Geographic, 2016.
Dillon, B. Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives. Penguin Ireland, 2009.