I spent three intensive days last week on a silkscreening course. I’ve been on several over the years but this time I had some ideas — a couple of friends are getting married later this month and I thought I could produce a portrait of them as a wedding present. In addition I had some unfinished paintings that I thought I could finish.
It turned out that I could do both in the fifteen hours that the course lasted.
First the wedding present. I had downloaded the couple’s portrait from one of their Facebook posts and edited the background out to leave just the couple seated together holding hands. I made two screens, one with the photo as originally taken with M seated on the left and a second with the picture reversed. I had previously prepared backgrounds on 300 g watercolour paper and simply screened the image onto the prepared backgrounds.
Wedding couple painting.
While I had the screen ready I decided to make a separate portrait for myself:
I screened a silver background and then screened the portrait on top.
Then I had six portraits of Andy Warhol that I had painted some time ago and wanted to finish. Two were only in the early stages of production and had to be finished.
Then the series was complete:
And, I added diamond dust to make them sparkle!
We were four participants on the course and we had a discussion as to whether or not we should sign our work. The general consensus was “if one accepts ownership of the work, then it should be signed”.
Okay, then. But I don’t really think my name rings really ‘artistic’. I mean, not like Picasso or Cezanne or something catchy — even if my wife jokingly calls me the family Picasso! So I just put “Richard F ’20” on each picture.
From March 31st to September 8th, 2019, Moderna Museet in Malmö showed a major part of my collection of Andy Warhol’s record cover art advertised as the first time a complete selection of Warhol’s cover art production was on show. At a forum on record cover art at the Museum on 31st August, 2019, I suggested that we do not actually know if the sixty-eight covers on show are really all the covers produced during Warhol’s lifetime. I noted that new discoveries were still being made–coincidentally, often soon after and exhibition closed. And so it has turned out again!
Warhol expert and collector extraordinary, Guy Minnebach, recently visited The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and did some further research through Warhol’s letters and invoices collected at the Museum [https://warholcoverart.com/2019/10/13/the-bossa-nova-cover-no-one-knew-was-a-warhol-paul-desmonds-take-ten/]. he turned up an order from RCA Records dated May 1st, 1962 for cover art for an album with catalogue number LPM/LSP 2598. An invoice with the same date had a July 6th written on it, suggesting that that was when it was paid.
Guy didn’t recognise this catalogue number among currently identified Warhol covers and quickly discovered that the number belonged to Paul Desmond’s 1963 album “Take Ten”.
In the nineteen fifties Andy Warhol designed or illustrated about twenty-eight record covers. By the mid- to late fifties he was one of the highest paid commercial artists in New York, but, surprisingly, only three record sleeves were known to have been produced during the sixties; the “Giant Size $1.57 Each”, the “John Wallowitch” covers, and–of course–the famous “banana” cover for the “Velvet Underground & Nico” album. So the discovery of a further cover released in the sixties is sensational.
This appears to be a silkscreen portrait of Desmond against a coloured background. This possibly could be Warhol’s first silkscreen portrait. He only began making silkscreens in August 1962, so he probably had no idea for the cover when the order arrived. There is a sweet story as to how Warhol hit upon the idea of using silkscreens to “mechanise” his art. In 1961, he met a couple of English teenagers, David and Sarah Dalton, at party and invited them to see his art at his home. The Daltons were regular visitors to The Factory and David would in 1966 co-produce the Aspen Magazine box set together with Warhol.
David Dalton went on to a successful career as a writer. But I digress, When Warhol met the Daltons, David was 16 and his sister Sarah 14. In early 1962 Warhol was experimenting with ways to speed up the process of producing multiple images on a canvas. He tried using stampers made from various materials but found that he could only produce small images by this method. According to one story, Sarah Dalton was visiting the Factory in early 1962 and saw Andy at work and he complained about the problems of reproducing many images quickly. Sarah was attending art classes at the time and suggested to Andy that he should try silkscreening as she had tried the method in her classes. Sarah would be a regular visitor and When Andy had filmed his first major film “Sleep”, he asked Sarah to edit it. Sarah had no previous experience of film editing but took on the challenge. It was the start of her career as a film editor.
Warhol usually used photographs from which to make his drawings and silkscreens. Thus he used a publicity still from Marilyn Monroe’s film “Niagara” for his “Marilyn” portraits, and a photo of hibiscus flowers, taken by photographer Patricia Caulfield as the basis for his “Flowers” paintings and prints. I therefore suspect that he found a photo of Paul Desmond on which to base his cover portrait. I have been searching for the photo, but without success.
Warhol’s cover design was also used by RCA Italy for a slightly different Paul Desmond album called “The Artistry of Paul Desmond” also released in 1963 and containing six of the original eight tracks from “Take Ten” but substituted “The Night Has a Thouand Eyes” and “O Gato” for “El Prince” and “Samba de Orfeu” on the original US release.
So, my collection of Andy Warhol covers on show at Moderna Museet in Malmö during the summer of 2019 was incorrectly advertised as being “complete”. The finding of the Paul Desmond album barely one month after the show closed proves the collection to have been incomplete. I wonder how many more Warhol covers will turn up in the future?