Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
25 Cats Name[d] Sam and One Blue Pussy/A Bound Book, containing eighteen lithographs (including the cover), c. 1954 (Feldman & Schellmann, IV52A-68A). Identified on the cover, numbered and signed "65 Andy Warhol" in blue ballpoint on colophon page, stamped "serendipity 3..." on the inside back cover. Lithographs with hand-coloring on paper, sheet sizes 8 7/8 x 5 7/8 in. (22.4 x 14.7 cm), board bound.
Condition: Subtle toning to edges of some sheets, minute breaks/losses to edges of colophon page, cover with gentle staining and with minor soiling, print on cover with gentle fading and some staining.
Provenance: Acquired in late 1950 or early 1960s, possibly from Serendipity 3, New York, then by descent to the current owner.
N.B. Early in his career Warhol supported himself as a commercial illustrator, primarily creating fashion and shoe advertisements. In these ads he utilized a blotted line technique that he had invented as a student at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. He also used blotted lines in his fine art, as seen here and in the next lot. The art scene of 1950s New York centered on Abstract Expressionism, so Warhol's whimsical, though distinctive, work was a hard sell as "art." Nonetheless, Warhol created a number of prints and books which he used as gifts and promotional materials that he could send to art directors and the like to develop business for both aspects of his work.1
The blotted lines of these prints read almost like a poorly printed book. The sporadic fine breaks in the lines only heighten this sense. In contrast, the images are illuminated by hand. The contrast in techniques raises questions about the nature of originals and reproductions. We are forced to think of commercialism and mass-production in conjunction with fine art. Even the cats themselves raise these questions. Are we seeing eighteen (not twenty-five as the title promises) different cats named Sam, or is this the same Sam in eighteen different positions? These questions raise precisely the same issues that Warhol's Pop subjects play with in the 1960s.
Warhol loved cats - to say nothing of their saucy synonym, "pussy." Although he hardly seems to be the crazy cat lady type, there were stories that he and his mother had as many as twenty-five cats in their Lexington Avenue apartment.
The current owner of the book recalls looking at it as a girl around 1960. She also used to frequent Serendipity 3 with her mother, often sharing their frozen hot chocolate. According to the shop's website "Before he was anyone, Andy Warhol declared it his favorite sweet shop, and paid his chits in drawings."2
1. Donna de Salvo, "The Genesis of Andy Warhol' Printmaking" in Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné 1962-1987 (Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.: New York, et al.), fourth edition, 2003, p. 316.
The edges of the colophon page have more staining than then rest. The edges are also brittle, especially on the colophone.
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