Monday, February 29, 2016

ANDY WARHOL Book Artist Exhibit at Morgan: Review by Polly Guerin

Andy NWarhol, In the Bottom of my Garden , ca. 1956
Andy Warhol's unparalleled creativity had no limitations and his fascination with publishing and the art of the book was a lifelong pursuit. It was rooted in his artistic training as a college student and early career in advertising, fashion and commercial illustration. For over forty years books were a touchstone for Warhol, a medium to which he returned again and again as a platform for his unbridled creative. 
      For the first time in New York an exhibition devoted solely to Warhol's career as a book artist, gets its due recognition in the exhibition, ANDY WARHOL'S CAREER AS A BOOK ARTIST, at The Morgan Library and Museum, on view through May15, 2016
      Image: Andy Warhol, In the Bottom of my Garden, ca 1956. The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. Contribution the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, (c) 2016. The Andy Wahol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York.      
For the firs time, neophyte viewers of Andy Warhol's bookmaking genius will find 130 objects dating from the artist's student days, his years in New York as a commercial artist and self-publisher, and his innovative work of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s that solidified Warhol's standing in the history of modern art. Items on display include the only surviving book project from the 1940s drawings, screen prints, photographs, self-published books, children's books, photography books, text-based books, unique books, archival material and his much-sought after dust jacket designs.
     Image: Andy Warhol's Index (Book), New York, Random House, a Black Star book, 1967. The Morgan Library & Museum purchased on the Gordon N. Ray fund. Photography by Graham S. Haber, 2015 (c) 2015.The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
       Harking back to antique reference books Warhol, like other artists, found inspiration in the works of early artists. His hand-colored books of the 1950s, such as One Blue Pussy, Wild Raspberries and In the Bottom of My Garden, are infused with a sense of frivolity. He derived witty, sometimes erotic, figures from imagery in famous illustrated books. Two sources Warhol used were Les fleurs animees (1847) by J.J. Grandville and the saccharine flower fairies of early 20th century artist Cicely Mary Baker. Another source was Jacques Stella's figures in Les jeux et plaisirs de l'enfance (1657) --a popular engraved book of its time, which was itself modeled on a predecessor. However, Warhol favored variations in composition. No two books are alike.
     Warhol's oeuvre was prolific and he left many book projects, unfinished.  Examples on view are children's projects such as The House The Went to Town, There was Snow in the Street and Rain in the Sky, and So, as well as works aimed at older audiences such as Horoscopes for the Cocktail Hour and The Boy Book. Warhol's reputation in the early 1960s changed from that of a successful commercial artist to a so-called fine artist associated with the Pop art movement. As he became
Horoscopes for the Cocktail Hour, ca. 1968
evermore influential, his book designs would move away from the personal qualities and commercial art techniques that made his early work so notable.
     The majority of his publications after 1964 reflect his concurrent interests in painting, printmaking, photography, and film. He was a multi-dimensional man who also published a book of philosophy, a memoir, and left behind a bestselling diary. Warhol no longer had to rely on self-publishing to make and distribute his books. A celebrity in his own right, he was under contract to major publishers for the rest of his life.
     A lecture by Thomas Crow, THE TWO WARHOLS on March 17th at 6:30 pm, offers a clarifying look at the transition between Andy Warhol's first career as a successful illustrator in print media and the second, storied career as a fine artist.  For additional details on other events visit www.the 
      Ta ta darlings!!! I'm so impressed with Warhol, his artistic diversification and his magnificent talent that left so many more reasons to visit this exhibition. Fan mail welcome email:  Visit Polly's Blogs
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