Andy Warhol Pre-Pop
by Gary Comenas (2006)
1956: THE BOY BOOK
At the beginning of 1956 Warhol had another exhibition of his pre-Pop work - this time at the Bodley Gallery at 223 East 60th Street, near to Serendipity 3. The Bodley was run by David Mann who had previously managed the Hugo Gallery which hosted Warhol's first exhibition in 1952. Warhol's exhibition ran from February 14 - March 3, 1956 and was titled "Studies for a Boy Book by Andy Warhol."1 The "Boy Book" never actually appeared as a book although Warhol's friend, Charles Lisanby thought that many of the drawings were of him, including one used on the poster advertising the exhibit. Warhol had met Lisanby at a party in late 1955 (SC28) and they would travel to the Far East together in 1956.
"I think he used this as a poster or something for 'The Boy Book,' which never got printed. It was just on exhibit at the Bodley. You see... it's printed that way [head side up], but, actually it's me lying down that way [sideways, head left]. I was lying down, taking-a-nap picture, and that's why the eyes are closed. And I looked like that then. A lot of those pictures in 'The Boy Book' really are me."2
Nathan Gluck thought that at least one of the "Boy Book" images was influenced by Dudley Huppler's work.
"Dudley Huppler used to draw little dots, and had windows at Tiffany's once with trees. He was forever drawing pictures of sensual men with very large lips, holding roses in the teeth. Ah ha! This is a recollection: 'The Boy Book' - the one with the boy with the flowers in this mouth. That! The idea, I think, with the flower in the mouth was subconsciously suggested by Dudley's thing because we once had a drawing like that - my roommate had."3
Robert Fleisher also thought that some of the images were based on him.
"... I became very, very friendly with Andy. He used to come over to my apartment on 76th Street. He used to come quite often. He always wanted to sketch me. At the same time, just about that time, I became a model. I was photographed a lot, and I was in retailing but earned part of my income by modeling and Andy used to sketch and sketch and sketch and sketch... He said he was going to do what he called his 'Boy Book,' and he wanted all of us to pose nude, and we did. There was loads of us... Andy loved to sketch models and very intimate sexual acts. Really! And Andy sketched us screwing a couple of times. Andy would get very, very excited. He wouldn't quite join in, but he loved watching. He would very often like to draw me nude and see me with an erection, but he never actually touched me. And I think that I never really put myself in a position of letting him or leading him on, or [think] that I was interested physically, because I wasn't.4
During one of these sketching sessions, Warhol got so excited that he stripped down to his underwear.
"... one time he [Warhol] said that he got so hot when he saw men with erections that he couldn't have an orgasm himself. But he started to strip that day. 'And wasn't it all right if he sketched in his Jockey shorts.' And he did and I was really upset and it kind of confirmed what I had thought about Andy's personal habits in those days... I never saw in an actual sexual act or in a place where homosexuals go to have sex or did. I never saw him in a bath[house] or anything like that or at a gay bar. He talked about sexual experience... he used the English word for rear end - and he'd say, 'Oh, my bum is sore tonight because I met this number and he screwed the ass off me.' I never believed it. I think that - at least in the time that I knew him - I don't think that he ever had an overt sexual act with another human being. Maybe he had one with a man. A woman was completely discounted, as far as I could gather."5
Fritzie Wood, Warhol's downstairs neighbour at 242 Lexington Avenue, went to the exhibit and later described the "Boy Book" drawings: "The Boy Book drawings had hearts on the pubic hair and nipples of the young men, but they had a cheeriness that made you bubble with simple laughter. You walked away thinking they were not original and some of my friends considered him second or third rate."6
Warhol's erotic sketches of boys were reminiscent of those by Jean Cocteau. Although Rainer Crone would later make the case that Warhol was influenced by Matisse, Charles Lisanby thought that Cocteau was more of an influence. According to Lisanby, Warhol "knew" Cocteau's drawings and "liked them very much."7 Nathan Gluck did not remember Warhol ever mentioning Matisse,8 but recalled that Warhol had seen a particular book of Jean Cocteau drawings (Jean Cocteau: Dessins (Paris: Stock 1924)) and had tried to get a copy of it.9 Bert Greene from Theatre 12 also remembered Warhol being fascinated by Cocteau. According to Greene, "Andy was like a groupie. He had a fix on Cocteau."10 When Greene complained to Warhol that Jean Cocteau had once looked at him (Greene) like an "object," Warhol responded, "You ought to have felt flattered." Warhol had given Greene some pornography which he "insisted" was by Cocteau, although Greene thought it looked more like Tom of Finland.11
"Matisse was in a way, perhaps, an influence. At that time, Matisse was doing that chapel, where he drew on tiles just in black-and-white and Andy did know that was being done at the time, but he wasn't trying to draw that way. He was trying, if anything, to draw more like Ben Shahn but not like Ben Shahn but his own way. He was also trying to draw like those wonderful drawings of Cocteau - of the sailor dancing and those things. Those were much closer in influence, and because of the sexual connotation, particularly fascinated him."12
1956: RECENT DRAWINGS: U.S.A.
Just over a month after his first show at the Bodley closed, one of Warhol's shoe drawings was included in a group show at the Museum of Modern Art. "Recent Drawings U.S.A." ran at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from April 25 - August 5, 1956.13 During part of that time, Warhol was on a round the world trip with Charles Lisanby - from June 16 to August 12, 1956 - taking a month's break from his I. Miller work. Lisanby and Warhol planned on visiting San Francisco, Honolulu, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Manila, Djakarta, Bali, Singapore, Bangkok, Angor Wat, Colombo, Calcutta, Katmandu, Benares, New Delhi, Agra, Aurangabad, Cairo, Luxor and Rome.14
AROUND THE WORLD
Although the list of cities Lisanby and Warhol planned to visit was extensive, some were just stop-offs where they would stay a night before continuing their voyage. Initially their Japan Airlines flight took them to San Francisco, then to Honolulu where, after a short stay, they were to catch another flight to take them to Kyoto. While in Honolulu Warhol and Lisanby shared the same hotel room. When Lisanby attempted to bring back to the room a young man he had met on the beach, he was confronted by an angry Warhol who slammed the door in his face, forcing Lisanby to take his new friend to a different hotel for drinks. When he returned to the room he was sharing with Warhol, Warhol refused to let him in.
"I still didn't have my key and he [Warhol] wouldn't open the door. I shouted, 'Andy, I know you're in there and you might as well open up because I can go and get another key!' and finally he opened the door. He walked back across the room and slouched on the bed droop-shouldered and said, 'I want to go home. There's no use in going on,' ... I remember sitting beside him, I put my arms around him and I was trying to calm him down, and he really did totally break down crying and then it got worse and he couldn't stop... I knew that he loved me, but he said, in a soft trembling voice, 'I love you.' I said, 'Andy, I know, and I love you too.' And he said, 'it's not the same thing.' And I said, 'I know it's not the same thing, you just have to understand that, but I do love you.'"15
Unrequited love would be a recurrent theme in Warhol's life. Later "boyfriends" such as Jon Gould would deny ever having sex with the artist.
Warhol and Lisanby's ambitious tour was slightly curtailed when Lisanby became ill in Calcutta. Lisanby later recalled, "I got quite ill in India, and we flew as quickly as we could to Italy because if I was going to be sick, I'd be sick in Italy."16 They had also planned to spend time in Egypt, but when their plane landed in Cairo it was during the Suez Crisis and, instead of seeing the sights, they were treated to a propaganda film.
"It was the Suez Crisis. We flew over the Canal as it was happening. When we arrived in Cairo we were taken off the plane, and there were tanks with guns aimed at the plane and everything else, and we were taken off the plane into a little room, shown a documentary or, I guess, more of a propagandistic film, which I didn't pay much attention to. There were soldiers all over the place. Machine guns and everything. The plane was refueled, and we were put back on the plane... When we arrived in Rome, the [newspaper] extra was was already on the street: 'Suez.' I got better in Rome."17
They exchanged the Egypt portion of their trip for a trip to Amsterdam before returning to the U.S. in August.18 The "Recent Drawings" exhibition had just finished and Warhol offered to donate a drawing of a shoe to the museum for their permanent collection. In October, he received a rejection letter from Alfred H. Barr, the Director of Museum Collections, informing Warhol that they could not accept the drawing titled Shoe due to the museum's "severely limited gallery and storage space."19
IN THE BOTTOM OF MY GARDEN (1956)
When Warhol produced his next book of drawings - In The Bottom of My Garden - Charles Lisanby thought that many of the images were based on books they came across in Amsterdam during their world tour. An exhibition of Warhol's drawings from the book took place at Serendipity 3 in December 1956.
" ...These pictures here - In the Bottom of My Garden - these were done after our famous tour around the world, and in Amsterdam... while we were there [in Amsterdam], we found a series of little books... of fairies wearing flowers as costumes, and so on. And he really based all of these drawings in this section on those. I suppose not all of them, but the whole idea was, more or less, inspired by these things... Flower Fairies of the Autumn by Cicely Mary Barker... They're children's books, and you can see where he took the things."20
Nathan Gluck recalled that Warhol's self-published book was sometimes referred to as "The Fairy Book" and that Warhol's images may have been influenced by a book they saw at a book dealer named Cane, probably on "34th Street or so," where Warhol purchased books. One of the books, Les Fleurs Animee, [illustrated] by [J.-J.] Grandville had images where flowers were "little people and things."21 Another possible influence was Jacques Stella's Les Jeux et plaisirs de l'enfance.22
SHOES SHOE IN AMERICA (1956)
In December 1956, while Serendipity showed Warhol's "Garden" drawings, the Bodley Gallery was showing Warhol's shoe art work in an exhibition titled "Andy Warhol: The Golden Slipper Show or Shoes Shoe in America." The Bodley show, which ran from December 3 - 22, 1956, consisted of shoes named after celebrities. Life magazine reprinted some of the works in a two page spread in their January 21, 1957 issue, describing the shoes as "made entirely of gold leaf ornamented with candy-box decorations."23 Lisanby thought that Warhol's use of gold leaf was a result of their world tour.
"This whole thing when he [Andy Warhol] did the whole gold leaf thing. This was also a result of our trip because in Siam or Thailand in one of the museums there, he saw those marvelous pieces of furniture with gold leaf, and then, painting black, leaving areas of gold leaf showing. It is a typical Siamese type of decoration... And that - since he already had the black line, the blotted-line, he thought of adding the gold leaf. in fact, he did these things, all of these things, shortly after that [trip]."24
According to Nathan Gluck, Warhol never actually used gold leaf.
"Andy didn't really use gold leaf. Actually, it was bronze leaf, called 'Dutch metal.' He would use sobo - a glue, an adhesive from milk products, bought in an art supply store. There was an exhibition of them and a spread in Life magazine, then someone gave him a bunch of wooden lasts to which we would glue wooden heels and decorate them. And sometimes I'd throw down some fake blotted drawings on them and put tinsel on them."25
The Life magazine spread was Warhol's first major coverage in a national magazine. Life had started as a weekly in 1936 and had become one of America's most popular magazines among the general public. One of the people who had been involved with coming up with the concept of Life was the father of Tina S. Fredericks, the art director for Glamour who had given Warhol one of his first illustration commissions. Frederick's father, Kurt Safranski, had immigrated to the U.S. after his daughter, and worked for Hearst Publications. He designed a dummy issue of a weekly magazine for Hearst but his design was rejected as being too expensive to produce. The idea was picked up by Luce publications and Life magazine was born.
Among the shoes featured in the Life article, were ones named after Zsa Zsa Gabor, Kate Smith, James Dean and Truman Capote. The Gabor shoe was described by Life as "a jazzy spike heeled number suggesting her gay social life." The Kate Smith shoe was apparently so named because, according to Life, Warhol "always admired" her "because of broadcasts." The James Dean shoe, a western style boot, conveyed "a rugged character, though he never made [a] cowboy movie."26 The Truman Capote shoe was a woman's slipper overflowing with flowers which Life thought symbolized Capote's play House of Flowers. The socialite, D. D. Ryan, purchased the shoe and sent it to Truman with a note about how famous Warhol was becoming.27 A shoe not featured in the article, but included in the exhibition, was named after Christine Jorgensen - America's first sex change. Although the Life magazine article gave the impression that the shoes were conceived with particular celebrities in mind, Nathan Gluck later recalled that the names assigned to the works were completely "arbitrary" and were assigned to the shoes after they were created.28
HOLY CATS (1957)
Warhol's next limited edition book was not by Warhol at all. It was Holy Cats by Andy Warhol's mother, consisting of Julia Warhola's drawings of cats. The volume was sewn bound and featured the dedication, "This little book is for my little Hester who left for pussy heaven."29 The following year - in 1958 - Julia won her own design award from the American Institute of Graphic Arts for her calligraphy on a record sleeve - The Story of Moondog featuring the music of jazz musician Louis Hardin. The award certificate credited her as "Andy Warhol's Mother" rather than using her real name.
Although Holy Cats was by Julia Warhola, Ted Carey, who would become another of Warhol's pre-Pop assistants, remembered first meeting Warhol at an exhibition of cat drawings at Serendipity 3, around same year that Holy Cats was published.
Ted Carey and Andy Warhol
"Serendipity... [is] a combination restaurant-boutique... They started out very small, and it was downstairs in the cellar of a brownstone. And this particular exhibition was an exhibition of drawings of cats. And I think the title of the show was 'Cats with Hats'... And that was the first time I had met him, and then I saw him shortly after that in the zoo... in the cafeteria of the zoo. And he remembered meeting me. And he said he would like me to pose for him. So, at the meeting we made a date, and he came by and did one or two drawings of me... And, then, after that we became friendly... At that time, I think I was working for N.B.C. and shortly after that I lost my job at N.B.C. I was unemployed."30
Although Carey would later have limited success as a fine artist, he was still doing commercial work when Warhol met him. N.B.C. used his illustrations to advertise their television programs. Warhol helped him with an illustration advertising the television broadcast of Marlon Brando's first film, The Men. After leaving N.B.C. Carey worked for Warhol as his commercial art assistant.
See also: c. 1957: TED CAREY MEETS ANDY WARHOL.
AMY VANDERBUILT'S COMPLETE COOKBOOK
One of the Warhol projects that Ted Carey was involved with was Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Cookbook. Although first published in 1961, Warhol had been working for some time on it. Carey recalled that Warhol worked "like two years" on the illustrations because the publisher kept on asking for for changes. Finally Warhol handed the project to him, saying, "if you finish the book for me... I'll pay you the whole fee that I'm getting paid just to get rid of that book."31 The published book carried the credit, "Drawings by Andrew Warhol," and did not mention Carey.32
THE COCK BOOK
Ted Carey also recalled Warhol doing erotic drawings for another limited edition book planned by the artist: The Cock Book.
"The other things that he [Andy Warhol] started to do [was] a whole group of Cock drawings. Beautiful cock-penis drawings... they're fabulous! He was going to do a book of those... The Cock drawings... were done mostly through friends... Like if he met somebody at a party or something, and he thought they were fascinating or interesting, he'd say, 'Oh, ah, let me draw your cock. I'm doing a cock book.' And surprising enough, most people were flattered [when] asked to be drawn. So he had no trouble getting people to draw and he did a lot of beautiful drawings."33
Carey remained friends with Warhol throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s. In addition to assisting him with his commercial work, he would often accompany Warhol to museums and galleries on Saturday afternoons. According to Carey, "Andy and I used to go around the galleries and decided to buy art... he hadn't this interest before I knew him. The fact that I was interested and would go around to the galleries... stimulated his interest and stimulated mine, so we got very keyed up on it."34
In 1960 Andy and Ted commissioned the artist, Fairfield Porter, to do a painting of them together. Warhol later claimed that they couldn't afford to commission Porter to do individual portraits and they planned to cut the combined portrait in half but Porter had painted them so close to each other that they had no other option than to leave the painting as it was.
A GOLD BOOK (1957)
At the end of 1957 Warhol had his third, and final, exhibition at the Bodley - "A Show of Golden Pictures by Andy Warhol" - which ran from December 2 - 24, 1957. The same year, he produced A Gold Book, consisting of 19 drawings printed on gold paper with coloured tissue paper between the pages in conjunction with David Mann's assistant, Georgie Duffee.35 Many of the drawings in the book were based on photographs by Edward Wallowitch.
Edward Wallowitch (ca. 1960s)
(Photographer: Edward Wallowitch)
Wallowitch was a photographer and the brother of Anna Mae Wallowitch. Sketches of Anna Mae were included in A Gold Book and, according to Andy Warhol 365 Takes, she also worked, at some point, as Warhol's agent.36 Warhol and Edward became lovers in spite of the fact that Edward had a drink problem. Around October 1958, Edward had a nervous breakdown. When Edward's brother, the jazz pianist John Wallowitch, asked Warhol to make a financial contribution toward Edward's treatment, Warhol refused, blaming his "business manager."
"The analyst thought it would be better for Edward to go to a place out on Long Island that could handle this kind of thing. But it cost $250 a week. At the time, I was making three dollars an hour and there was no money coming in from Ed or our parents. I called Andy up and asked him for $600 to help Ed out. He said, 'Oh, I'm sorry. My business manager won't let me do it.' It would be nice if Andy had come to see him or called, but no, there was nothing. I loved Andy, but there was something malevolent and evil about the way he sucked off Ed's energy. But I know Ed got his revenge because Andy took it up the ass a lot. And my brother was well-equiped from what I hear."37
Warhol's refusal to fund Edward's treatment may have stemmed from the fact that Warhol had grown up impoverished, but managed to achieve success by working hard in a very competitive market. He was reticent to distribute "handouts" to friends. Later, during his Factory days, some of his superstars would often demand money. Although Warhol was attracted to 'outsiders' such as transvestites and drug addicts, he tended to avoid them when they became a problem. Some of the "superstars" featured in his films, such as Jackie Curtis, would later be banned from from Warhol's Factory because of erratic behaviour or demands for money - contributing to Warhol's unwarranted reputation as someone who used people up and then discarded them.
In spite of the demand for money from his brother, Edward Wallowitch and Andy Warhol remained friends through the early 1960s. When Warhol needed photographs of Campbell's Soup Cans on which to base his soup can paintings, he enlisted Edward to take photographs of real cans. 38 Wallowitch continued to photograph Warhol during the early sixties including taking a photo of him at the Factory in 1964 which shows acetates of some of Warhol's Most Wanted Men series taped over the Factory's windows. (RNA026) The same year - 1964 - Warhol designed an album cover for Edward's brother, John. (SC26) Edward Wallowitch died in Florida in 1981.
1001 NAMES AND WHERE TO DROP THEM
By the end of 1958 Warhol was so successful that he was listed in a novelty book called 1001 Names and Where to Drop Them, but rather than being listed under the categories of "Artists" or "Fashion" he was listed under "Big Business."
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