Was Andy Warhol an intellectual or rather a comic-book reader? That the most famous proponent of Pop Art had a very close affinity to books to this day is not even known to many connoisseurs. The exhibition at the Museum Brandhorst
is the first to show that Warhol continuously worked on books from his student days in the 1940s until his death in 1987. While still a student he made illustrations after famous novels. As a successful commercial artist he created entertaining thematic booklets in the 50s that he distributed in the New York fashion world as promotional gifts. It was not long before Warhol received commissions from major publishers such as Doubleday and New Directions to design book covers and illustrate cookery or childrens books. During the first few years in the Factory, the artist who had since risen to fame gave writer-friends silkscreen prints and photos for their poetry books. Together with other artists in the Factory, he went on to make illustrated volumes using photographs and film material created there. Based on audio tape recordings he also wrote texts that pushed back the boundaries of conventional literary genres and, at the same time, shaped the image Warhol created for himself. In this chronologically structured show the books designed by Warhol reveal a surprisingly unknown facet of the famous artist.
Holdings of artists book in the Brandhorst Collection include copies of the most important artists books from the 1950s as well as several photo books. Complementing these, key exhibits are on loan from the firstrate holdings of Warhols works at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich.
Major loans of original works have come from the Williams College Museum of Art that has a unique collection of early works by Warhol, as well as recently discovered manuscripts in private ownership in America. Several books have been made available by private lenders in Germany.