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, 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.