Editor's note: The Walker Art Center provided source material to Resource Library for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Walker Art Center directly through either this phone number or web address:


Andy Warhol Drawings, 1942-1987


The Walker Art Center is the first American venue for the exhibition Andy Warhol Drawings, 1942-1987 to be presented August 8-November 28, 1999. Best known for his screenprints and paintings of the late-1960s--bold portrayals of such subjects as Campbell's Soup cans and celebrities Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy, and others--Warhol was also a prolific draftsman. Beginning with a self-portrait drawn at age 14 and ending with a work created the year of his death in 1987, the exhibition highlights more than 200 rarely seen drawings that survey Warhol's entire career, including his days at the Factory surrounded by literary, artistic, and musical "superstars" (like The Velvet Underground) and his term as founder and publisher of inter/view magazine. The exhibition was organized by The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, and the Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland. (left: Self Portrait, 1986, synthetic polymer paint on paper, 40 1/8 x 30 1/4 inches, © 1999, AWF, Courtesy the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA)

Warhol (born Andrew Warhola) grew up in Pittsburgh, the son of working class Slovakian immigrants. After studying pictorial design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, he moved to New York and produced hundreds of drawings, most of them commercial projects for the publishing and fashion industries. His clients included Vanity Fair, Mademoiselle, and Bergdorf Goodman. Warhol first gained widespread recognition for a 1949 illustration commissioned by Glamour magazine for an article about success. The title of the section, "Success Is a Job in New York," embodied his attitude toward art-making as well as his infatuation with fame and fashion. As the artist once said, "Business Art is a much better thing to be making than Art Art." Many of his trademark colorful and whimsical drawings of people, animals, insects, shoes, and accessories--used as book illustrations, stationery, and album covers--are on view in the exhibition. (right above: Women and Produce Truck, 1946, ink and pencil on paper, 13 x 18 3/4 inches, © 1999, AWF, Courtesy the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA)

The artist's often simple and mechanical way of working can be seen in the drawings made with the help of his mother, who was responsible for adding the handwritten text as well as the calligraphic "Andy Warhol" signature. Also on view in the exhibition are intimate portrait studies of friends (often of just hands and feet), many with the addition of gold leaf to enhance the seductive qualities of the image. His first one-man show in 1952, Fifteen drawings based on the writings of Truman Capote at the Hugo Gallery, included many of these sketchbook drawings of young men, which appear as a precursor to his later portraits of celebrities. (right: Who's Pussyfooting Around?, , c. 1960, watercolor on paper, 48.3 x 36/5 cm, © 1999, AWF, Courtesy the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA)

The drawings of the early 1960s have an experimental and exploratory feel in which the artist combined elements of photography, collage, written instructions of working studies, and on occasion, pencil and crayon or watercolor. When seen together, the works show a shift in Warhol's creative process from drawing from life to appropriating existing images or fragments of consumer culture such as soup cans, money, newspapers, political figures, and film stars.

Warhol's drawings from 1968 (the year he was shot) until 1987 reveal his fascination with the vanity that fame inspires and play with issues of health, disfigurement, and death. During this period his diaries recount the beauty and glamour of his friends and acquaintances (such as Truman Capote, Elizabeth Taylor, and Bianca Jagger) and divulge, or speculate on, their various cosmetic surgeries. Exhibition curator Mark Francis writes, "For more than 30 years Andy Warhol created a coherent, consistent, and prolific body of drawings in which his deepest fears and his ideals of beauty were plainly and simply outlined." (left: Happy Bug Day, 1954, offset lithograph and watercolor on paper, 35.6 x 24.1 cm, © 1999, AWF, Courtesy the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA)

A fully illustrated 320-page exhibition catalogue with texts by exhibition co-curators Francis and Dieter Koepplin is available in the Walker Art Center Shops at the museum, 612.375.7638 (phone), 612.375.7565 (fax), and at the Galleria in Edina, 612.928.9690 (phone), 612.928.9691 (fax). In addition an assortment of cards, books, gifts, clothing, and housewares bearing Warhol's colorful designs is available along with an exclusive T-shirt featuring Warhol's drawing Eye.

The Minneapolis presentation of Andy Warhol Drawings, 1942-1987 is made possible by generous support from Dayton's community-giving initiative, Project Imagine. Major support for Walker Art Center programs is provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Dayton Hudson Foundation on behalf of Dayton's, Mervyn's California, and Target Stores, The McKnight Foundation, the General Mills Foundation, Coldwell Banker Burnet, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the American Express Minnesota Philanthropic Program, the Honeywell Foundation, The Cargill Foundation, The Regis Foundation, The St. Paul Companies, Inc., U.S. Bank, and the members of the Walker Art Center.

See also our article: Andy Warhol's "Flash - November 22, 1963"

The Walker Art Center is located one block off Highway I-94 at the corner of Lyndale Avenue South and Vineland Place in Minneapolis. Gallery hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 10 am-5 pm; Thursday, 10 am-8 pm; Sunday, 11 am-5 pm; closed Monday.

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Walker Art Center in Resource Library.

For further biographical information on Andy Warhol please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2010 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.