The first US exhibition to concentrate on Andy Warhols book work, Warhol by the Book opens at the Williams College Museum of Art
March 7 and will be on view through August 16, 2015. Creating books was a vital part of Warhols career. From his student days in the 1940s to his death in 1987, Warhol experimented wildly with form and content, turning traditional notions of media and authorship on their heads.
Nearly 500 objects covering more than 80 book titles including unique and unpublished materials come together from WCMA and The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. The exhibition showcases a range of material from Warhols practice including paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, and artists books. It also includes projections of sixteen Screen Test portrait-films of writers. Warhol had a lifelong fascination with the written word and with the book as an art form. Featuring drawings created to fulfill college assignments, to the Party Book, which was in development at the time of his death, Warhol by the Book traces the artists ideas, influences, collaborations, and innovations throughout his career.
Printed books were essential in Warhol's daily life and with almost every known example of his work for books represented, this exhibition demonstrates his prolific and diverse contribution to the field of publishing, says Matt Wrbican, Chief Archivist, The Andy Warhol Museum and Curator of Warhol by the Book.
Featured in the exhibition are:
⦁ Works related to Warhols interest in Truman Capote, the subject of Warhols first solo exhibition in 1952
⦁ Illustrations in mass-market childrens books, a language instruction book, a cook book, and an etiquette book
⦁ Many unfinished works such as a unique maquette for a book made from his Marilyn Monroe prints which unfolds to a length of almost 30 feet
⦁ Unique Red Books of Warhols Polaroid photographs of his celebrity friends including Mick Jagger
⦁ Never-before exhibited paste-up layouts for two books of photos: Andy Warhols Exposures and America
Warhol by the Book highlights WCMAs important holdings of nearly 300 Warhols, many of which were given by Richard F. Holmes Class of 46. Before Warhol became famous for his Pop art, he produced extensive commercial art as well as self-published works often made in collaboration with friends in the 1950s. The Holmes gift includes a near complete collection of these books produced in limited numbers: A is an Alphabet, Love is a Pink Cake, 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy, Holy Cats by Andy Warhols Mother, In The Bottom of My Garden, A Gold Book, and Wild Raspberries.
Many of Warhols projects focused on the book as an object. He blended the borders of art, design, and text. Andy Warhols Index (Book) (1967), was the first of several books to defy the definition of a book. This seminal publication has been called a childrens book for hipsters, complete with sound recordings, balloons, fold-outs, holograms, and even a do-it-yourself nose job. Three preliminary mock-ups for this project are featured from WCMAs collection, showing how the book changed from inception to its final state. Further playing with form and content Warhol produced a novel from transcriptions of audiotapes, which is exhibited with the very cassette recorder used to make the recordings, and Stephen Shores photos that document the sessions.
At WCMA, a gallery will recreate Warhols personal library allowing visitors to page through some of his eclectic volumes. As part of the year-long, campus-wide Book Unbound initiative, Warhol by the Book expands the notion of Warhols authorship and examines how he challenged the definition of what a book is.
Books were objects of fascination for Warhol, both as an artist and a collector. In a pre-digital age, books represented legacy, luxury and lasting fame, says Eric Shriner, Director of The Andy Warhol Museum. Warhol by the Book focuses on a little-known, but fascinating aspect of Warhols work.
Warhol worked out many of his lifelong obsessionswith documentation, reproducibility, mass-produced visual culture, and authorshipthrough books, says Christina Olsen, Class of 56 Director of the Williams College Museum of Art. For the college community this is an exciting opportunity to delve into some of the most important themes in art of the twentieth century.
Warhol by the Book debuts at WCMA and will travel to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh where it will be on view from October 9, 2015-January 10, 2016.
Warhol by the Book is organized by The Andy Warhol Museum, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.