My Material Life

Falling for Warhol

“I used to work for the magazines and I always thought I was being original, and then they’d never want it.  This is when I decided not to be imaginative.” – Andy Warhol, 1986

He’s been dead for nearly thirty years, but Andy Warhol continues to surprise me.  I suppose I first became aware of him in the late seventies, but to tell you the truth I wasn’t very interested in him at the time.  All I knew about then was the soup can and Studio 54, Bianca Jagger, something called the Factory.  I was interested in art; my high school photography and watercolor classes made going to high school seem almost worthwhile, but this eccentric artist in New York City and all that stuff I heard about him had nothing to do with me.

Then in 2003 (having recently discovered I was a cat person) I bought a calendar full of cat illustrations, most of them quite big in washes of exuberant color and outlined in black.  They were by Andy Warhol.  I never knew he made cat art.  Some of the images had words on them like so meow or purr, purr, purr.  I learned some interesting things about Andy Warhol from that calendar.  Things about his career as a commercial illustrator in the 1950s and things about his mother, Julia Warhola.  Back then Andy Warhol lived with his mother and their many cats that were all named Sam.  Mrs. Warhola actually did the lettering on the cat illustrations.  For much of my life I dreamed of learning to write like an architect.  Now, having completed a couple of drafting classes, I dream of learning to write like Andy Warhol’s mother.

My next Andy Warhol surprise came some time in the mid-2000s when Samantha was a very little gal and we were looking at one of those Baby Einstein art books.  I found an image of a 3-scoop ice cream cone that I really liked; I thought it would be a great print to hang in her room.  The artist wasn’t listed with the image, but in the back of the book I discovered that it was Andy Warhol’s.  This led me to search for his food illustrations, and these pretty much blew me away.  I never did buy the ice cream cone print, but I did buy a print of Dorothy Killgallens Gateau of Marzipan from his self-published book with Suzie Frankfurt (lettering by Julia Warhola), Wild Raspberries.  That book was a joke, but Dorothy Killgallens was a real person.  Do you think she was in on it?  Some day I just may try to create this cake with real food – wouldn’t that be something?  Life imitating art.

Hans Christian Andersen 1987

This is a photo I took from a book that I found on display in the Hans Christian Andersen museum in Solvang (mentioned in my last post here).  It’s a screen print that Andy Warhol made of a Hans Christian Andersen paper cutting.  Did you know that Hans Christian Andersen made paper cuttings?  Did you ever figure that Andy Warhol would see fit to turn one into a screenprint?  It certainly surprised me.  Andy Warhol seems to keep popping up for me in unlikely places and showing sides of him that I find downright endearing.

It was while searching for the connection between Warhol and Hans Christian Andersen that I discovered the series of small Andy Warhol Bulfinch Press books that were published in the 1990s.  I bought five of them as an early Valentine’s gift for myself.  It wasn’t extravagant; most of them cost just 1¢ although I did have to pay separate shipping for each.  They are charming books full of Warhol illustrations and quotes.  The top two images of this post come from Love, Love, Love and the cherub (or fairy) that I turned into a paper chain in my last post came from Angels, Angels, Angels.  My favorite is Ho, Ho, Ho, but I’ll tell you about that one another time.  I think this is enough about Andy Warhol for now, but let’s do talk about him again later.

Notes

I found the Andy Warhol quote in the book, Andy Warhol Prints, A Catalogue Raisonné 1962-1987, 4th ed.  It came from an interview with Donna De Salvo, one of the book’s contributors.

Photo Gallery 1:  Sprite Angel with Bow, c. 1951 and (Stamped) Basket of Flowers, c. 1958, both from Love, Love, Love, published by Bulfinch Press, 1995.

Photo Gallery 2:  Two Fairies (“In the Bottom of My Garden”), 1955 from Angels, Angels, Angels, published by Bulfinch Press, 1994.

Photo Gallery 3:  So Meow, c. 1960 from Andy Warhol 2003 Cats, published by teNeus Publishing Company, 2002.  Dorothy Killgallens Gateau of Marzipan, from Wild Raspberries by Andy Warhol and Suzie Frankfurt, 1959.  This print published by McGaw Graphics, 2012.

I’m afraid I didn’t get the name of the book that the Hans Christian Andersen paper cutting screenprint was shown in (it was behind glass), but Andy Warhol made a series of these in different colors, as well as prints of Hans Christian Andersen.  Warhol made these in the same year he died, 1987.

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