Category Archives: Andy Warhol

6th August 2018 — The 90th Anniversary of Andy Warhol’s Birth.

Warhol by Blake
Sir Peter Blake’s 2016 print “Andy Warhol”.

Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, U.S.A., on 6th August 1928. Today he would have been 90 years old. His art is still a major influence on graphic design.

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Andy Warhol – The Artist Who Died Twice.

In a recent post I investigated Andy Warhol’s medical history, concentrating on the story of the heroic Dr Guiseppe Rossi’s lifesaving treatment of the seriously wounded Andy Warhol and on his gallbladder disease and final operation and his unnecessary death in 1987. Since that post, I have been researching Andy’s medical history in more depth using several biographical sources. Finding Andy’s medical history was relatively easy. Using several sources, probably every illness can be identified. However, none of the sources I have thus far read have even begun to discuss Andy’s mental health.

Reading Victor Bockris’s and Bob Colacello’s biographies gives some insights, but neither tries to discuss Andy’s psychological health. There are other books that do look at aspects of Warhol’s mental health. Claudia Kalb discusses Andy’s hoarding while Brian Dillon examines his hypochondria.

Reading Bockris’s and Collacello’s biographies one gets the feeling that Andy couldn’t have been a particularly ‘nice’ person. The biographies show that Andy was born in Pittsburgh in relative poverty. He was his parents’ third son, but the couple had had a daughter, born in Miková, then in the Austro-Hungarian empire, but now in Slovakia, near the Polish border. The girl died after only six weeks. Ondrej, Andy’s father (after whom he was named) was a hard worker and often had to travel away to work. So the three boys would be brought up mainly by their mother, Julia. The family was poor and Julia worked cleaning houses and making toys out of tin cans which she sold for 25 cents. Ondrej was thrifty and saved money to be able to send his youngest son to college. He hadn’t been able to afford to send his two elder sons — they started working early in life. Ondrej had recurrent jaundice that improved after his gallbladder was removed in 1939. However, his liver later began to fail and he was housebound for the last year of his life, dying in 1942 at the age of 55, when his son Andrew was only 14 year old.

Julia’s English wasn’t good. The family lived in cramped conditions and had a poor diet. Soups were often what they ate. Andy’s childhood illnesses made him closer to his mother. Remember, she had already lost her first born child. At the age of two, Andy had swollen inflamed eyes, which necessitated bathing them with boric acid solution. When he was four he fell and broke his arm. He didn’t tell his mother and it was several months before it was noted that his arm was crooked and he went to a doctor. It was necessary to re-break his arm to straighten it. In 1936, when Andy was six, he caught scarlet fever and developed Sydenham’s chorea, tremor and muscular weakness. He was confined to bed for several weeks and when he had apparently recovered he had a relapse and was again sent back to bed. A further consequence of the illness was that it left his skin blotchy and it would be a problem for him for the rest of his life. He also had problems with pimples and is nose was lumpy and ugly. He became very concerned about his appearance. And in addition, in his twenties, he began losing his hair and took to wearing wigs.

Andy began using various cosmetics to hide his blotchy skin and pimples and visited dermatologists at first searching for a cure, but later for collagen injections to fill out his sunken cheeks, the result of his inadequate diet because of his gallbladder disease. In the mid 1950s he had a procedure to sandpaper down his bulbous and swollen nose, but the treatment provided only a temporary result and he felt his nose was worse afterwards. He took courses of tetracycline for his pimples.

Warhol always maintained that he did not take drugs, though his associates witnessed him dipping his finger in cocaine and smearing it on his gums while saying the he didn’t take it. However, as part of weight loss treatment he was prescribed Obetrol®, a mixture of four amphetamine preparations (a 10 mg capsule contained 2.5 mg methamphetamine saccharate, 2.5 mg methamphetamine hydrochloride, 2.5 mg racemic amphetamine sulphate, 2.5 mg dextroamphetamine sulphate, while the 20 mg capsule contained twice the amount of each constituent). Andy would continue to take these capsules twice daily for the rest of his life.

Andy’s mental health:
Andy Warhol was inordinately attached to his mother, taking her to live with him in New York. He was homosexual but had difficulty in forming longterm relationships. He was vain and deeply insecure, always seeking approbation and affirmation. He had a twofold aim in life, to be the most famous artist of the twentieth century and to become very rich. He lacked empathy, discarding friends and associates, often delegating uncomfortable decisions to others. He was stingy and underpaid his Factory employees. He even failed to pay the $3,000 bill from the surgeon who, in 1968, saved his life after Andy was shot and seriously wounded. The bill was found when one of WArhol’s Time Capsules was opened almost 30 years after Warhol’s death. Warhol also suffered periods of depression. In summary, he appears to have been a classic case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The DSM-V states:

The most important characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are grandiosity, seeking excessive admiration, and a lack of empathy. These identifying features can result in a negative impact on an individual’s interpersonal affairs and life general. In most cases, on the exterior, these patients act with an air of right and control, dismissing others, and frequently showcasing condescending or denigrating attitudes. Nevertheless, internally, these patients battle with strong feelings of low self esteem issues and inadequacy. Even though the typical NPD patient may achieve great achievements, ultimately their functioning in society can be affected as these characteristics interfere with both personal and professional relationships. A large part of this is as result of the NPD patient being incapable of receiving disapproval or rebuff of any kind, in addition to the fact that the NPD patient typically exhibits lack of empathy and overall disrespect for others.

But this isn’t really enough. Andy was a hoarder, another anxiety-based condition. DSM-V states that the symptoms of the hoarding disorder are:

  1. Persistent difficulty or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value.
  2. This difficulty is due to a perceived need to save the items and to distress associated with discarding them.
  3. The difficulty discarding possessions results in the accumulation of possessions that congest and clutter active living areas and substantially compromises their intended use. If living areas are uncluttered, it is only because of the interventions of third parties (e.g. Family members, cleaners, authorities).
  4. The hoarding causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning including ( including maintaining a safe environment for self and others).
  5. The hoarding is not attributable to another medical condition (eg., brain injury, cerebrovascular disease, Prader-Willis syndrome).
  6. The hoarding is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder (eg. Obsessions in obsessive-compulsive disorder, delusions in schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder, cognitive deficits in major neurocognitive disorder, restricted interests in autism spectrum disorder).

The hoarder engages in excessive acquisition, buys items that are unnecessary and they do not have have space for. The hoarder may have good insight and realise that their hoarding is a problem or have poor insight and not recognise their behaviour is unhealthy.
According to (DSM-5) 80-90% of hoarders also engage in excessive shopping and buying unnecessary items.

This describes to a tee Warhol’s shopaholic behaviour. He threw nothing away. Quite apart from filling his house with about 100,000 items that, on his death, many were found not to have been removed from the packaging in which he took them home, he accumulated 610 boxes of “stuff” from his Factory studio that he called “Time Capsules”. These, now in the Warhol Museum, contain invoices, unread letters, used postage stamps, broken toys, gifts, records, decaying pizza slices, and much else.

I have a theory that many artists have a touch of obsessive compulsive related disorder (OCRD). But are OCRD and hoarding related? There are cardinal differences as explained by in a 2014 article:

The disorders in the OCRDs category have both similarities and differences. Although all the disorders in this category have intrusive thoughts, these obsessional thoughts manifest somewhat differently. Some disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are characterized by classic obsessions. Obsessions are repetitive, unwanted, and intrusive thoughts that trigger anxiety. In other disorders, such as body dismorphic disorder (BDD) and hoarding disorder, the intrusive thoughts could be more aptly described as a persistent and unrelenting preoccupation. In the case of BDD, this preoccupation focuses on personal appearance and attractiveness. In the case of hoarding disorder, the preoccupation centers around possessions.

The intrusive thoughts of people with hoarding disorder are associated with their preoccupation regarding their possessions; specifically, parting with, or losing these possessions. Unlike spontaneous OCD obsessions, intrusive hoarding thoughts and resultant anxiety are not usually activated until faced with the prospect of losing or parting with possessions.

Andy’s preoccupation with his appearance–he always considered himself ugly–could perhaps be construed as a symptom of body dysmorphic disorder, BDD.

By all accounts Andy was not loved, more tolerated. There were, however, many sycophantic hangers on who wanted to share Warhol’s fame. His employees at the Factory called him “scrooge” because of his meanness. But Warhol was inordinately generous to people he wanted to impress, giving paintings and prints to potential clients or advertisers.

Over and above these personality disorders, Andy had several phobias. He was afraid of the dark from childhood. He was inordinately afraid if hospitals and doctors, despite having his own personal physician and regularly visiting dermatologists. It is unclear exactly when this fear of hospitals began; it could have been in his teens when his mother, Julia, was operated on for bowel cancer and ended up with a colostomy. Colacello states that it started n earnest after an operation in March 1969 to remove part of a bullet that remained in his body after he was shot by Valerie Solanas on June 3rd 1968. This inordinate fear was to cause him to delay having his gallbladder removed until his physical condition was poor. Unsurprisingly, Warhol became more paranoid after he was shot. Andy professed to a fear of flying. Early in his career choosing to cross America by car rather than fly. However, he seems to have overcome this later in his lie as he journeyed round the world to exhibitions.

I think we can conclude that Andy Warhol was a tortured soul. Biographical descriptions lead me to conclude that he probably suffered from at least three psychological disorders: narcissistic personality disorder, hoarding disorder and possible body dysmorphic disorder. However, his psychological deficiencies did not prevent him from producing amazing art that still influences twenty-first century art.

Sources:
Bockris, V. The Life and Death of Andy Warhol. 1989
Colacello, B. Holy Terror–Andy Warhol Close Up. HarperCollins, 1990.
Kolb, C. Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder- National Geographic, 2016.
Dillon, B. Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives. Penguin Ireland, 2009.

 

 

 

Andy Warhol – Two Biographies.

As readers of this blog may have read, I started researching the circumstances of Andy Warhol’s death. I planned to write a scientific article aimed at publication in a reputable medical journal and and had, basically, finished writing the article.

However, in my studies I found references to Andy Warhol having been admitted to hospital in 1973 for “kidney stones”. I wanted to find out more about this and and an Internet search turned up a reference to Bob Colacello’s 1990 book “Holy Terror-Andy Warhol Close Up”. For those who may not recognise Colacello’s name, he was headhunted by Warhol in 1970 and made editor of Warhol’s Inter/WIEW (the original spelling of what became Interview magazine). He was a close associate of Warhol’s from then on, until Warhol died. So I had to get hold of Colacello’s book to find the reference.

Holy Terror
The cover of Bob Colacello’s “Holy Terror-Andy Warhol Close Up”.

While doing so, I saw an advert for Victor Bockris’s 1989 Warhol biography “The Life and Death of Andy Warhol”. Well, well; I thought I had better read this to see if it shed more light on the circumstances leading up to and the consequences of Warhol’s untimely death.

Life & Death of AW
Victor Bockris’s “The Life and Death of Andy Warhol”.

Both these books were published relatively soon after Warhol’s death and included interviews with his many associates. As soon as I started to read Bockris’s fantastically well researched book, I realised there was a lot more medical history that I had hitherto included in my medical paper. It really was a case of throwing out my original manuscript and starting again.

The Warhola family were immigrants to the US from Miková in Slovakia. Andy’s father, Andrej (1886 – 1942), had married Julia Justina Zavacá (1892-1972) in 1909 (and she gave birth to a daughter in 1914, who died just six months old). Andrej emigrated to Pittsburgh at about that time and could not afford to send for Julia until 1921. As Bockris points out, the Warhola family lived in pitiful conditions in prewar Pittsburgh. Andrej worked hard, travelling far and wide after work as was often away from Pittsburgh for weeks or months. Despite his travels, he and Julia had three sons, Paul (1922 – 2014), John (1925 – 2010) and Andrew (1928 – 1987). Andrej died when Andrew was just 13.

The younger Andrew was a sickly child. He had swollen eyes when he was 2 years old and when he was four he fell on streetcar tracks and broke his right arm–but it wasn’t treated until several months later! At six he caught scarlet fever and developed rheumatic fever and chorea (St. Vitus’s Dance”) afterwards. He was initially kept in bed for four weeks and was thought to have got over it but when he was about to return to school he didn’t want to go and his legs gave out under him. It wasn’t appreciated that he had a relapse and he was back in bed for a further four weeks, during which time Julia encouraged him to draw.

Andrej was a thrifty man and saved as much as he could. However, the family could not afford to educate their two older sons, but when Andrej died he made Julia promise that his savings should be used to send Andrew through college. Julia fulfilled this promise.

Andy stated that he had had three nervous breakdowns as a child. It is impossible to decide exactly what he meant by “nervous breakdowns, but he remained an anxious child with several phobias. Most prominent among these was his fear of hospitals that probably developed when his mother was operated on for colon cancer in 1944, when Andy was 16, and forced to have a colostomy. And later, his fear of flying. He was also afraid of the dark, and this would allow him to work (or party) into the early hours. In addition, he developed strange dietary habits, living mainly on candy. And even as an adult, he would refuse to eat ordinary food. Andy began to lose hair relatively early and started to wear wigs from about the age of 25. He also felt he was ugly and that his nose was too bulbous and, in 1956, he had a nose job (which he felt made matters worse). He complained that his skin was blotch and he had rashes round his genitals, which was said to make him sky of showing himself nude and thus affected his relationships.

As Bob Colacello revealed, Andy’s “kidney stones” were, in fact, gallstones–the first time he developed symptoms of the disease that would force him to submit to an operation fourteen years later. Warhol was always careful t avoid fatty foods or those with cream in case this gallbladder problems would recur.

Towards the end of 1986 he was in almost constant abdominal pain. In January 1987 he went to Milan for the opening of his Last Supper paintings exhibition. He was really unwell during the trip and on his return contacted his dermatologist (who was treating him with fillers) on St. Valentines’ day to ask for painkillers. She refused to give him stronger tablets and convinced him to get an ultrasound scan, which confirmed that his gallbladder was enlarged and that he needed an operation. He saw Dr Bjorn Thorbjarnarson, a well-renown surgeon who had removed the Shah of Persia’s gallbladder, on 17th February. The same day, despite his pain, he took part in a celebrity fashion show and was photographed together with Miles Davis looking rather haggard.

Andy didn’t want an operation and said that he would make Dr Thorbjarnarson rich if he didn’t operate. However, Andy was admitted to the New York Hospital on 20th February for operation the following day.

That is Andy Warhol’s somewhat expanded medical history. Blake Gopnik is said to be writing yet another Warhol biography that promises to me more racy, delving deeper into Warhol’s sex life to dispel the image of Warhol’s celibacy. Stay around for further reports.

Andy Warhol’s Death – Probably Unnecessary.

Thirty years have passed since Andy Warhol died on 22nd February 1987 after what newspapers called “a routine gallbladder operation”. The upcoming anniversary stimulated retired surgeon Dr. John Ryan, of Seattle, WA, to research the circumstances of Warhol’s death, which he presented on the 19th February 2017 at the annual meeting of the Pacific Coast Surgical Association. Dr. Ryan’s findings suggest that the operation was far from “routine”.

Warhol was pathologically afraid of hospitals and wanted to avoid being admitted to hospital or being subjected to any operation. He had a personal physician, a Dr. Denton S. Cox who looked after him for many years. Warhol had symptoms of gallbladder disease for at least fifteen years prior to being admitted to the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center on 20th February 1987. He had increased symptoms in the weeks or months before his admission and had barely eaten in the month before seeing renowned surgeon Dr. Bjorn Thorbjarnarson on 17th February. Warhol reportedly said to Dr. Thorbjarnarson “I will make you a rich man if you don’t operate on me.” At the time Warhol who was 5′ 11″ (about 180 cm) tall, weighed 128 lbs (58.2 kg). He was also anaemic and dehydrated.

So, why was the cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) not “routine”? On 3rd June 1968 Warhol was shot in the chest by playwright and actress Valerie Solanas (1936-1988) who had loaned Warhol a copy of the manuscript to her play “Up Your Ass”, asking Warhol’s opinion of the play. When in May 1968 she asked for the manuscript to be returned, Warhol told her he had lost it. Solanas borrowed $50 and used the money to buy a 32 calibre handgun. She returned to The Factory early on the morning of June 3rd, and was met by Morrissey who asked her what she wanted. She said she wanted to see Warhol, but was told that he would not be at the Factory that day. However, Solanas would not leave, but hung about and eventually Warhol arrived and they got into the lift together. Once inside the Factory, at about 2.00 p.m. Warhol received a telephone call and while on the phone, Solanas fired three shots at him. The first two shots missed, but the third hit Warhol in the chest, puncturing both lungs, his spleen, stomach, liver, and oesophagus. She then turned the gun on art critic Mario Amaya shooting him in the hip and then tried to shoot Warhol’s manager, Fred Hughes, but luckily the gun jammed.

Warhol was seriously injured and taken to the Columbus-Mother Cabrini Hospital where he arrived pulseless. Warhol was pronounced clinically dead at 4.15 p.m. Vascular surgeon Giuseppe Rossi (1928-2016), who had considerable experience in operating on victims of gunshot wounds, was on duty.

11-img_00089
Dr. Guiseppe Rossi, photographed in 1969, the surgeon who resuscitated Warhol.

Dr. Rossi found what he thought was a homeless old man, pale and without circulation and started heroic resuscitation. He opened Warhol’s chest and performed open heart massage while transfusing him with 12 units of blood. He then operated for five hours to repair Warhol’s internal injuries, removing the lower lobe of Warhol’s right lung and his spleen in the process. Miraculously, Warhol recovered, but was marked by the event, developing an incisional hernia which forced him to wear a corset for the rest of his life. It is said he also had a constantly weeping abdominal sore. Richard Avedon took a famous photo of Warhol the following year and Robert Levin took a much less well-known photo of him in May 1981, showing him wearing his hernia corset.

Three days after the appointment, Warhol finally allowed himself to be admitted to the New York Hospital and Dr. Thorbjarnarson performed the cholecystectomy on the morning of 21st February 1987. At operation, Warhol’s gallbladder was found to “be gangrenous” and fell apart as it was being removed. Dr. Thorbjarnarson decided also to repair Warhol’s hernia at the same time. Despite the complicated procedure, Warhol recovered well. He spent three hours in the recovery room before returning to his private room where he was in good spirits and in the ecening watched television and at 9.30 p.m. phoned his housekeepers. His nurse, Ms. Min Chou, checked on him at 0400 h on the 22nd February and saw all was well, but at 0545 she found him “blue and unresponsive” and stared “respiratory manoeuvres” and called the hospital’s cardiac arrest team. Despite resuscitation efforts Warhol was pronounced dead at 0631 h.

A post mortem examination was performed and found Warhol to weigh 150 lbs (68.2 kg), significantly more than when he entered the hospital. His lungs were filled with fluid and his trachea was filled with pink, frothy fluid, signifying pulmonary oedema. The cause of death was ascribed to “ventricular fibrillation”. However, Warhol’s death certificate, registered by his brother John Warhola, on 26th February stated simply “pending further study.

warhols death cert
Andy Warhol’s death certificate.

At autopsy the cause of death was said to be due to “ventricular fibrillation”. Warhol’s lungs were found to be filled with fluid and his trachea brimmed with a pinkish fluid, signifying fluid overload. It was later said he died of a heart attack secondary to the stress of the operation and fluid overload.

An inquiry into Warhol’s death was held in April 1987 and concluded that his care was unsatisfactory. Warhol had not been properly examined or adequate tests taken before he was operated on. The inquiry found no fault in the surgery.

In 1991, Warhol’s estate (his two brothers and the Warhol Foundation) sued the hospital for lack of care and after a settlement were awarded a sum assumed to be $3 million.

Dr. Guiseppe Rossi knew nothing about Andy Warhol or about Pop Art. Warhol rewarded him with several prints and a complete folio of Soup Cans II. Dr. Rossi didn’t know what to do with them and they were stored under his bed for decades. Since Dr. Rossi’s death in 2016, his family decided to sell the prints and Christies will be auctioning them on 24th-25th October 2017. Warhol also sent Dr. Rossi a cheque for $1000, which bounced

11-img_29011
Andy Warhol’s cheque to Dr. Guiseppe Rossi, dated September 1, 1968.

and was returned to Dr. Rossi, who had it framed and hung it on his wall.

 

This post is based on the following articles.

Christies.com: Prints gifted by Warhol to the doctor who saved him. October 2017. (http://www.christies.com/features/Prints-gifted-by-Warhol-to-the-doctor-who-saved-him-8607-1.aspx)

Choplik, Blake: Andy Warhol’s Death: Not So Simple After All. New York Times, Feb 21, 2017. https://nyti.ms/2m4485v.

Farber M. A. Warhol Received inadequate care in Hospital, Health Board Asserts. New York Times. April 11th, 1987.

Choplik, Blake:The Surgeon Who Saved Andy Warhol’s Life Has Died. The Daily Pic. March 14th 2016. (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/surgeon-saved-andy-warhols-life-died-448463).

Sullivan, Ronald D. Care Faulted in the Death of Warhol. New York Times, December 5th, 1991. (http://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/05/nyregion/care-faulted-in-the-death-of-warhol.html)

 

Andy Warhol by Sir Peter Blake. Post Dedicated to Daniel Brant.

As readers of this blog will know, I collect both Andy Warhol‘s and, not by any coincidence, Peter Blake‘s record cover art.. I would list these great Pop Artists as the equals–Warhol as an exponent of American Pop Art and Blake curiously English.

Andy Warhol died on 22nd February 1987, just 30 years ago. Art lovers, it seems, love and hate him in almost in equal measures. However, Warhol‘s art still causes excitement and discussion. Peter Blake‘s art continues to evolve, now in his 85th year.

In 2009 Sir Peter Blake produced a 355 x 355 mm (14 x 14 in) print of Andy Warhol in an edition of 25, complete with diamond dust. A new, larger (510 x 510 mm) edition 0f 75 was produced in 2016.

Warhol by Blake
Sir Peter Blake’s 2009/2016 print “Andy Warhol”.

This would make a great addition to both my collections! I’m going to start saving up tomorrow.

I dedicate this post to the memory of Daniel Brant of the A and D Gallery, who died on 19th January 2017 and who gave me many insights into Andy Warhol‘s art and gave me the opportunity to meet Sir Peter Blake at the opening of the Gallery’s show Peter Blake‘s “I Love London” in 2010. I suppose it is also an homage to Andy Warhol and Peter Blake, too.

At Last – Moondog’s LP “The Story of Moondog”!

moondog-lp-fr

My collection of Andy Warhol‘s record cover art is nearing completion. There are only a few original covers left to find. Moondog‘s album “The Story of Moondog” is one I have been chasing since I started collection in earnest nearly ten years ago. You can read more about the Moondog album in my previous Recordart post. The album was released on the Prestige label in America in 1957 on LP and somewhere I have read that there were probably about 5,000 copies pressed records originally. The record doesn’t seem too rare as copies regularly appear on Ebay but most copies I have seen have been in very poor condition with the cover severely yellowed or stained.

Towards the end of November 2016, I saw what looked like a perfect copy advertised on Discogs and from Spain. Photos showed it to be a really pristine copy with only minor yellowing of the front cover.The record itself was in near mint condition but I couldn’t afford the asking price! I made a cheeky offer which, to my surprise, was accepted. One big advantage of buying it from Spain is that there would be no import charges for items sold within the European Union.

The seller wanted payment via Payoneer–a service I had never heard of and that took over a week to process my payment. So by the 12th December I hoped my record would be on its way. Then fate took a hand. The seller’s father fell ill and ended up in hospital, so the seller had to leave Madrid and my Moondog album to go to his bedside. Having paid, I was naturally worried that this was a ruse and that I might never receive the record. However, the seller kept in regular contact and apolgising for the delay. Sadly his father died in early January and a week later the seller had returned to Madrid and could ship the record, which arrived in perfect condition on 17th January.

the cover is is amazing condition with absolutely no ringwear, only very minor yellowing and crisp corners, an intact spine with clear printing and a near perfect rear cover. I hadn’t expected the front cover to be laminated, but this copy’s was.

So, now there are only three important Warhol covers to find…

 

 

The Rolling Stones’ “STICKY FINGERS” Album

Stones founder member Brian Jones had died in 1969 and the band hadn’t released and album since “Let It Bleed” that same year. Mick Taylor joined to fill Brian Jones’s shoes. But the group hadn’t been idle. They had begun recording new material for an album in March 1969 and come up with some of their strongest material. Further the new album, entitled “Sticky Fingers” was to be the first to be released on The Rolling Stones own record label (licensed to Atlantic Records). Mick Jagger had already approached Andy Warhol to suggest that he design the upcoming album’s cover.*

Mick Jagger's 1969 letter to Andy Warhol sending him material and a copy of Sticky Fingers and asking him to design somerthing wild.
Mick Jagger’s 1969 letter to Andy Warhol sending him material and a copy of Sticky Fingers and asking him to design something wild.

Warhol had already discussed the idea of having a zip fastener on a record cover and this was his opportunity. I have already posted a fairly detailed account of the cover’s production in my February 2015  post on “The sources of Andy Warhol’s record cover art – The Rolling Stones“, so I won’t go into it again here.

The album was released on 23rd April 1971. The UK and European editions had the band’s name and the record title like rubber stamps over the model’s right thigh while the US version had both the band name and title placed over the models belt. The Stones gave the record the titillating catalogue number COC 59100 for both editions. A later US and Canadian re-issue had the catalogue number COC 39105. I have thus far not been able to find out when this was released. Both my copies are the 39105 version.

The UK/European cover.
The UK/European cover.
The US/Canadian cover.
The US/Canadian cover.

However, in Spain, the cover was deemed too lascivious and a “politer” version illustrating sticky fingers covered in treacle was used.

The Spanish cover.
The Spanish cover.

The rear cover photo on both the UK/European and US/Canadian versions was identical with the jeans-clad posterior on both. The Spanish cover used the photo of the Stones that graced the UK and US inner sleeves.

In 2015, a remastered and expanded version of the “Sticky Fingers” album with an extra LP of live tracks. This was reissued with a working zip but with the tongue logo on the zip’s puller. Simultaneously there were several variations including a double CD with the same cover image but without a working zip, a box set with CD and a book – again without the working zipper and a super deluxe box set with a triple CD, seven-inch single and photographs. The CD in this box does have a working zip. This is the second time that a CD with real zip has appeared. Incidentally, this reissue series also includes a double LP with the Spanish cover.

Just recently my friends at London’s A and D Gallery got hold of a copy of the 1971 US release (COC 39105) signed by Andy Warhol along with a signed copy of “Love You Live” which they passed on to me!

My signed
My signed “Sticky Fingers” LP.
My signed
My signed “Love You Live” cover.

As many people know, Andy was not pleased by Mick Jagger adding the title to the front cover of the “Love You Live” album and usually refused to sign the front, preferring, as in this case to sign the inner spread. These two signed albums make a great addition to my collection of Warhol covers.

*Guy Minnebach points out that this letter cannot have anything to do with the decision to ask Warhol to design the “Sticky FIngers” cover as the letter refers to a hits package. Furthermore, Jagger sends a copy of the finished album with the letter, so the album CANNOT be “Sticky FIngers” as that was not recorded yet. The Stones DID ask Warhol to design a cover for their “Through the Past Darkly” hits album released in 1969, but apparently rejected Warhol’s design, which has thus far not been found.