Last October, I posted an article about Andy Warhol’s unreleased cover art and described my attempts to reproduce the Billie Holiday, Volume 3 covers. Warhol made four designs for a possible Billie Holiday EP or LP entitled Volume 3.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Billie Holiday’s birth, Guy Minnebach published his research on the four covers. The first he found from a sale catalogue, it seems that two are in the Warhol Museum’s collection and the fourth was shown at the Robert Miller Gallery (New York) in 2011 according to Olivia Feal‘s blog.
A careful look at these covers shows that they are really collages — various bits of paper stauck together to make the finished design and then painted. Song titles are written in Warhol’s hand style. So, when were they made? Guy Minnebach, in his 2015 blog post, suggests that they were made in the early fifties, about the time he illustrated Margarita Madrigal’s book Magic Key to Spanish (published in 1953.) He points out that all the titles, were recorded in the 1930s for Columbia Records or its subsidiaries. I speculate that the covers may have been made later, towards the end of the fifties when Billie Holiday had left Columbia Records. Perhaps we will never know for sure.
I realize that these designs are unlikely ever to grace a real record and so I decided to try to make reproductions of Warhol’s designs. I’m in good company here. Many artists have reproduced Warhol’s art, starting early in the late sixties with Elaine Sturtevant’s copies of well-known Warhol works and continuing up to the present with Richard Pettibone’s miniature reproductions and Gavin Turk’s reinvention of Warhol’s Fright Wig Self Portrait.
So here are the results:
These are my renditions of Warhol’s originals.
My printer has managed to print up a limited edition of ten copies of each cover as ten-inch covers.
I am very happy with the results and to be able to add these to my other reproductions, such as the Progressive Piano ten-inch LP and seven-inch that I made several years ago. Wouldn’t it be nice if Columbia Records actually issued these records?
A year ago, in June 2017, I saw a picture of what I thought must be a previously unrecognised Warhol cover in the book “Adman–Warhol Before Pop”, the catalogue of an exhibition held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2017.
Nicholas Chamber’s exhibition book published by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Page 97 in “Adman-Warhol Before Pop” with a picture of the cover slick for an recording of an NBC radio programme called “Voices and Events”.
I saw that the picture had to be a slick for a box set like the elusive “Night Beat” box owned by renowned Warhol collector and author, Paul Maréchal. His copy of the “Night Beat” box, first shown at the “Warhol Live!” exhibition in Montreal in 2008, was thought to be the only one in existence.
Having previously made mock-ups of the “Night Beat” box, I knew how I could make similar mock-ups of the, as yet undiscovered, “Voices and Events” box pictured in the “Adman–Warhol Before Pop” book.
So I started a search for RCA EP boxes to use as the basis for the new set of boxes. It took several weeks to find a seller, but I finally managed to find a record store in Minneapolis that had many and was willing to sell them. I had photographed the slick from the “Adman” book and my local printer had printed ten slicks and within days of the arrival of the boxes I had made a limited edition of the “Voices and Events” box.
In March 2018 I was contacted by Lou Mancini, in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, who said he had found a couple of rarities and wondered what they might be worth. He attached photos of the “Voices and Events” box and said the other rarity was the “Night Beat” box. I was stunned! I replied that I had no idea of the value of the boxes–they were the rarest of the rare!
Lou promised med photos of the “Voices and Events” box, so that I could verify the accuracy of my mock-up. They seemed identical! In addition Lou later sent a photo of the insert inside the lid of the box, which I also managed to copy.
The boxes are complete with records and all packaging intact. A fantastic find by Lou. They are now going to be added to Guy Minnebach’s magnificent Warhol collection.
I still have two of my facsimile copies of the “Voices and Events” box if anyone would like to buy one.
Artipelag is an art gallery on Sweden’s Baltic coast about a 30-minute drive eastwards from Stockholm. It was founded by Björn Jacobsson, the man behind the Baby Björn range of infant products. Jacobsson had a vision for a gallery located on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea and found an architect willing to design it. There have been many inspiring exhibitions there since it opened in 2012. One of the more recent exhibitions was “The Legacy of Andy Warhol” which ran from 15th April until 25th September 2016. This exhibition was curated by Artipelag’s artistic director Bo Nilsson, himself an avid Warhol fan and, as far as I have been able to ascertain, the first to write about Warhol’s record cover art in the catalogue to Sweden’s Nationalmuseum’s 1981-1982 exhibition of record covers.
The first thing that met visitors to the exhibition was a mountain of Brillo boxes, like the ones on the poster, specially made for the show.
One large, silver foil-clad exhibition space was devoted to films including Roland Nameth‘s 1966 film “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable” featuring the Velvet Underground, apparently the first time the film has been shown with its original soundtrack, and Warhol‘s “Empire State Building“.
There was a small room with walls lined with a selection of reproductions of Warhol’s record covers–though mainly from the 70’s onwards, although the “Velvet Underground & Nico” cover was there, too, and surprisingly one of Warhol’s drawings for a projected Billie Holiday EP was included. I thought it a pity that there were no actual record covers, only prints.
A real surprise waited just through the sliding doors into the next space. The walls were lined with a large selection of Daniel Blau‘s collection of Warhol‘s drawings from the 1950s. I suppose there were about thirty drawings, but the two that I immediately reacted to were obviously related to Warhol‘s record cover art.
The drawing of the apple made me think of the “William Tell Overture” cover and the reclining woman was obviously a study for Kenny Burrell‘s “Blue Lights” album cover.
There was also a photo booth at the exhibition–a real Warholian touch! Visitors could photograph themselves free. And out came a card with four Warhol-style photos!
I visited the exhibition twice and photographed myself both times. but I lost the second photo in the restaurant. Clumsy!
I put the exhibition out of my mind until I read Guy Minnebach‘s wonderful “Andy Earhole-Another Blog about Andy Warhol’s Cover art” and a post about the “Night Beat” box set, which Guy illustrated with a picture of a man talking on the telephone from Daniel Blau‘s 2012 book “From Silverpoint to Silver Screen–Andy Warhol, 1950s Drawings“. I immediately ordered a copy and consider it one of the best books on Warhol‘s art in my book collection. Not only are the pictures superb, but the essay “Environments, Situations, Spaces” by James Hofmaier is a wonderful introduction to Andy Warhol‘s world.
There were more drawings in Blau’s book that resembled Warhol’s cover illustrations. The only one I couldn’t find in the book was the apple drawing I saw at Artipelag. Here are a selection with the respective cover.
Note that the original drawings for the “Blue Lights” cover and the hands on the Jan August cover are mirror images of the original photos. This is because they are blots of Warhol‘s original tracing. The drawing of the piano playing hands from the Jan August album was used for the unreleased “Progressive Piano” LP and EP.
The drawing I have placed beside the Horowitz album is not the one used on the record sleeve, but just shows how Warhol drew many pictures of hands playing the piano. Perhaps this drawing was intended for the “Progressive Piano” cover too, but was never used.
I really must thank Guy Minnebach for telling me about Blau‘s magnificent book “From Silverpoint to Silver Screen–Andy Warhol, 1950s Drawings“, I will spend many happy hours enjoying the superb drawings. It obviously is the catalogue of an exhibition of Warhol‘s 1950’s drawings–an exhibition I would love to have seen. But seeing many of the original drawings at Artipelag feels like I did get a little peek.