Nina Schleif, Reuel Golden
Andy Warhol. Seven Illustrated Books 1952-1959
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Andy’s Magnificent Seven
A unique reissue of Warhol’s classic 1950s illustrated books
In 1950s New York, before he became one of the most famous names of the 20th century, Andy Warhol was already a skilled and successful commercial artist. During this time, as part of his strategy to woo clients and forge friendships, he created seven handmade artist’s books, reserved to his most valued contacts. These featured personal, unique drawings and quirky texts revealing his fondness for—among other subjects—cats, food, myths, shoes, beautiful boys, and gorgeous girls.
Decades later, with originals now changing hands for thousands of dollars at auction, TASCHEN presents an immaculate portfolio of these seven books, five of which have never before been republished, beautifully packaged together for the very first time and replicating Warhol’s originals as closely as possible down to the format, dimensions, and paper stock. With titles such as Love Is a Pink Cake, 25 Cats Named Sam, and À la Recherche du Shoe Perdu, the series reveals the artist’s off-the-wall character as well as his accomplished draftsmanship, boundless creativity, and innuendo-laced humor.
The seven books make delightful play with styles and genres as much as with design, materials, and formats. The lithograph portfolio A Is for Alphabet devotes a page to each letter of the alphabet, with illustrations complemented by stumbling three-line verses that tell of strange encounters between man and animal. In the Bottom of My Garden is at once a Warhol twist on a children’s book and a covert celebration of gay love. Wild Raspberries, meanwhile, is a spoof cookbook with a cornucopia of adventurous recipes on 19 portrait-format pages of instructions and illustrations.
This colorful portfolio is supplemented by an XL-sized, 56-page guidebook introducing each of Warhol’s illustrations. Complete with rarely seen photographs of the artist, inspirational ephemera, and commercial assignments, it contextualizes Warhol’s 1950s art, offering a glimpse into his early creative process as well as his endearing, playful character.
“The Foundation is delighted to collaborate with TASCHEN to introduce Warhol’s whimsical books from the 1950s. These rarely seen gems provide a unique perspective on one of the world’s most fascinating artists,” says Michael Dayton Hermann, Director of Licensing of the Andy Warhol Foundation.
Little-known, much-coveted jewels in the Warhol crown, these hand-drawn delights are as appealing and original today as they were back in the halcyon days of the 1950s and offer a unique glimpse at a budding genius on the cusp of global fame.
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
Reuel Golden is the former editor of the British Journal of Photography and the Photography editor at TASCHEN. His TASCHEN titles include: Mick Rock: The Rise of David Bowie, both London and New York Portrait of a City books, Andy Warhol. Polaroids, The Rolling Stones, Her Majesty, Football in the 1970s, the National Geographic editions, and The David Bailey SUMO.
Nina Schleif is a German art historian, Americanist, and curator. In 2013, she initiated and curated the first exhibition anywhere on Andy Warhol’s oeuvre in books at Museum Brandhorst in Munich. She also edited and coauthored the exhibition catalog Reading Andy Warhol. Backed by a recent Smithsonian fellowship, she has written a monograph on Warhol’s 1950s drawings that will be published in 2017.