"Warhol by the Book" at the Williams College Museum of Art

Williamstown, MA—The first US exhibition to concentrate on Andy Warhol’s book work, Warhol by the Book, opens at the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) March 7 and will be on view through August 16, 2015. Creating books was a vital part of Warhol’s 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.

More than 400 objects covering more than 80 book titles including unique and unpublished materials come together from WCMA and The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.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 Warhol’s practice including paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, and artist’s 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 artist’s 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 Warhol’s interest in Truman Capote, the subject of Warhol’s first solo exhibition in 1952

-Illustrations in mass-market children’s 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 Warhol’s Polaroid photographs of his celebrity friends including Mick Jagger

-Never-before exhibited paste-up layouts for two books of photos: Andy Warhol’s Exposures and America

Warhol by the Book highlights WCMA’s 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 Warhol’s Mother, In The Bottom of My Garden, A Gold Book, and Wild Raspberries.

Many of Warhol’s projects focused on the book as an object. He blended the borders of art, design, and text. Andy Warhol’s Index (Book) (1967), was the first of several books to defy the definition of a book. This seminal publication has been called a “children’s 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 WCMA’s 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 Shore’s photos that document the sessions.

At WCMA, a gallery will recreate Warhol’s 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 Warhol’s 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 Shiner, Director of The Andy Warhol Museum. “Warhol by the Book focuses on a little-known, but fascinating aspect of Warhol’s work.”

“Warhol worked out many of his lifelong obsessions—with documentation, reproducibility, mass-produced visual culture, and authorship—through 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 is organized by The Andy Warhol Museum, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.

Related Programs

Warhol & Paired perspectives on Warhol's eclectic creative life

Warhol & the Stuff of Books

Mar 6, 2015 at 6 pm

Drinks and mingling to follow

Matt Wrbican, Chief Archivist at The Andy Warhol Museum and Curator of Warhol by the Book

Kathryn Price, Curator of Collections at WCMA

The pair talks shop about Warhol’s lifelong obsession with books. They share discoveries

unearthed wading through the vast stuff of Warhol’s career, and delve in

to the full range of

his roles from author and illustrator to designer, publisher, and promoter.

Warhol & Cookbooks

Apr 7, 2015 at 6 pm

Drinks and mingling to follow

Susan Rossi-Wilcox, Culinary historian

Darra Goldstein, Williams Professor of Russian and Founding Editor of Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture.

Rossi-Wilcox and Goldstein read between the lines of illustrated recipes with a look at a mid-century culture clash. Wild Raspberries, the cookbook Warhol produced with socialite Suzie Frankfurt, serves up satire as it mocks the post-war desire to cultivate a European lifestyle and aesthetic through food.

Warhol & Infiltrated Publishing

Apr 28, 2015 at 6 pm

Drinks and mingling to follow

Lucy Mulroney, Interim Senior Director and Curator of Special Collections at Syracuse University Libraries 

Christopher Cerf, Author, composer, producer, and former Warhol collaborator 

Stories from the publishing world invoke a Warhol who infiltrated mainstream channels with his counterculture spirit. Mulroney and Cerf share Warhol’s proclivity for co-opting rigid structures to produce iconic books like his Index (Book), a pop-up “children’s book for hipsters.” 

Visit Warhol by the Book with Student Gallery Guides Mar 7 and Apr 11, 2015 at noon WCMA’s Gallery Guides draw eclectic connections among artworks.

The Williams College Museum of Art

WCMA sparks new ways of thinking about art and the visual world through its innovative exhibitions, programs, publications and projects.

At the heart of the Williams College campus the museum draws on the collaborative and multidisciplinary ethos of the surrounding college to enliven the more than 14,000 works in its growing collection. The museum and its collection is a catalyst for student learning and community engagement. Situated in the rich cultural landscape of the Berkshires, WCMA is free and open to all. WCMA is located on Main Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Wednesdays. The museum is wheelchair accessible and admission is FREE. For more information, contact the museum at (413) 597-2429 or visit wcma.williams.edu.

About The Andy Warhol Museum

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the place of Andy Warhol’s birth, The Andy Warhol Museum holds the largest collection of Warhol’s artworks and archival materials and is one of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world. 

Additional information about The Warhol is available at www.warhol.org.


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