Tag Archives: Exhibitions

My Collection of Andy Warhol’s Record Cover Art — Is This as Far as I Can Go?

I have been collecting Andy Warhol’s record cover art more seriously since about 1982. Once Ebay started I found research into Warhol’s 1950s cover art easier and in the early part of the 2000s could collect some rare covers quite reasonably. But, I suppose it was in about 2006 or 2007 that I got to know Warhol collector Guy Minnebach, who gave me amazing help to boost my collection.

In around 2007, I had the (not too original) idea of putting on an exhibition of ALL of Andy Warhol’s record covers and it came about in time for what would have been Warhol’s 80th Birthday in 2008. The exhibition, at Piteå Museum, in northern Sweden, wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Jan Wimander and, of course, Guy Minnebach–who lent me several extremely rare covers to photograph for the exhibition and who helped hang the covers. Little did I know at the time that the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts was planning a major Warhol retrospective entitled “Warhol Live!” that concentrated on his connection to music and film and included what would have been the first properly curated exhibition of Warhol’s record cover art had we not pipped the Montreal Museum at the post, by opening a couple of months earlier!

Our exhibition included sixty-five covers. The Montreal exhibition showed Paul Maréchal’s wonderful cover collection that included the “Night Beat” box, that neither Guy nor I had seen. In addition, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts launched Paul Maréchal’s book “Andy Warhol – The Record Covers, 1949-1987. Catalogue Raisonné”, the first serious attempt to document Warhol’s record cover art.

The discovery of the “Night Beat” box, together with Guy Minnebach’s earlier discovery of the “Waltzes by Johann Strauss, Jr.” EP showed that there were probably more previously unrecognised Warhol covers out there, and, only a month after our exhibition in Piteå closed, I was tipped off about a cover by the Swedish band RATFAB (Roland and the Flying Albatross Band) that Warhol had drawn in 1984. Since then more covers have been found and motivated an updated version of Paul Maréchal’s catalogue raisonné, this time renamed “Andy Warhol–The Complete Commissioned Record Covers, 1949-1987”.

I have several times in blog posts warned against saying a collection is “complete”–as  new items usually turn up immediately one says a collection is complete. So, even with Paul Maréchal’s book!

My list of Warhol covers includes bootlegs and records and CDs released after Warhol’s death in 1987 and today has 248 separate items. 228 of them are currently in my collection, with only five of the twenty omissions that I would call “essential”–the pink version of Prokofiev’s “Alexander Nevsky” (from 1949), the “Night Beat” box (1949 or 1950), the Japanese EP of Mendelsson’s “Scherzo” (with the “Cool Gabriels artwork) , an original “Giant Size $1.57 Each” cover (1963) and the limited edition Keith Richards bootleg LP “Unknown Dreams” (1977).

I have made facsimile editions of the “Night Beat” box, the five versions of the “Giant Size $1.57 Each” cover (with white, red, yellow, green & orange backgrounds) as well as a version of the unreleased “Progressive Piano” EP and 10″ LP and the recently “discovered” “Voices and Events” box. I’m toying with the idea of making a facsimile of the pink “Alexander Nevsky”, which shouldn’t be too difficult, but I don’t have a decent high resolution image for the “Unknown Dreams” album cover to be able to make one of those. So, is this as near completion as I can get?

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Collecting Andy Warhol’s Record Cover Art. How to Credit Previously Unrecognised covers?

I curated what I thought would be the first exhibition of Andy Warhol’s record covers in Piteå, Sweden, in July 2008 I enlisted the help of fellow collector Guy Minnebach to assemble as complete a collection of record Warhol’s record covers as possible. Only later did I find out that Warhol’s record covers had been shown before-usually as part of other exhibitions of his art, and then only exhibiting a few covers. My intention with the 2008 exhibition was to try to gather together all the covers he designed or illustrated.

Just two months after the exhibition in Piteå closed, the Museum of Art in Montreal, Canada, put on a major exhibition entitled “Warhol Live!” which showed the link between Warhol’s art and music. Many of the record covers shown came from the collection of Paul Maréchal and his book “Andy Warhol – The Record Covers 1949-1987: Catalogue Raisonné” was published to coincide with the “Warhol Live!” exhibition.

Just before the Piteå exhibition, Guy Minnebach had discovered the “Waltzes by Johann Strauss Jr.” EP and the “Warhol Live!” exhibition showed Paul Maréchal’s newly discovered “Night Beat” box set. Less than a month after the exhibition in Piteå closed, in September 2008, a friend of mine read an interview in a magazine with Tomas Alfredsson, a Swedish musician turned actor, who had been a member of a band called Roland and the Flying Albatros Band (known as RATFAB for short). In the interview he said that the cover of the Band’s second single had been designed by Andy Warhol. Thus started my search for this cover, and I quickly found three copies. The RATFAB single “Det brinner en eld / Mörka ögon” became the first Warhol cover NOT to be included in Maréchal’s 2008 book!

Since then, a number of covers, unrecognised in 2008, illustrated or designed by Andy Warhol have been identified.
1. Margarita Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish, Volume 2 (LP),
2. Vladimir Horowitz – Piano Music of Mendelssohn and Lizst (LP),
3. Mendelssohn – Wedding March / Scherzo (45 RPM EP)
4. Lew White – Melodic Magic (EP),
5. Erika Morini – Tchaikovsky–Violin Concerto
6. George Gershwin / Edvard Grieg – Porgy & Bess / Symphonic Dances (LP and EP box),
7. Curiosity Killed the Cat – Misfit / Man (7″ single).

And this list doesn’t include bootlegs or records and CDs that simply appropriated Warhol’s art for their covers. Nor does it include covers after 1987 that simply use or reuse Warhol’s art, such as Paul Anka’s “Amigos” or Skyline’s “Skyline” or even The Silver Apples’ “Fractal Flow / Lovefingers“.

There has been a problem in having new covers suggested to be by Warhol verified. An example is the rear cover drawing on Keely Smith’s 1957 Capitol Records LP “I Wish You Love“. By this date, Warhol was an acclaimed commercial artist and his “dot and blot” technique was being used by other illustrators. Warhol is not known to have worked with Capitol Records on any other projects, so this drawing cannot certainly be accredited to Warhol. There are similar discussions about the Tchaikovsky (No. 5 in the above list) and the Gershwin / Grieg (No. 6 in the list) designs also released in 1957, but these were at least released on the RCA Victor Bluebird label, and Warhol did many designs for RCA and its other subsidiary Camden Records. Maréchal has included the Tchaikovsky, but not the Gershwin / Grieg in the second edition of his book.

There are variations in some of the covers that Maréchal has described. There are various colour variants of the covers illustrated, starting with the first cover in the book, “A Program of Mexican Music” (Columbia Records – ML 2080). Maréchal includes the green cover variant but doesn’t mention the rarer pale blue coloured version. Similarly, there are five colour variations of the “Alexander Nevsky” (Columbia Records – ML 4247)–pale blue and a deeper, almost turquoise, blue that contained the original LP with dark blue labels. The album was re-released in the late fifties with the cover in green, orange and pink. These copies have records with Columbia 6-eye labels. Maréchal includes the green reissue cover, but not the original blue covers. Then there are minor variations such as the various printings of the “Latin Rhythms by the Boston Pops” EP. Friend and Warhol expert Guy Minnebach noticed that some copies had the text “A High Fidelity Recording” just beneath the RCA logo in the upper right of the cover. Some had this text in silver and some in green. There is a minor variation in the cover of the “Waltzes by Johann Strauss, Jr.” EP. Some copies have “Printed in U.S.A.” at bottom right while others do not (probably due to the way the slick was cut before being affixed to the cover.)

There are probably more cover designs by Andy Warhol waiting to be identified. A recent case in point is the sister box to NBC’s “Night Beat” entitled “Voices and Events“. As with the designs for the “Progressive Piano” EP set and 10″ LP a lithograph of the “Voices and Events” cover design exists in The Warhol Museum and was shown at the “Adman-Warhol Before Pop” exhibition in Australia early in 2017. It isn’t clear whether The Warhol Museum recognised this to be the design for an EP box set, but when I saw it I immediately saw the similarity to the “Night Beat” design with the dots on three sides. No one knows if the “Voices and Events” box was ever released. I suppose, like the “Night Beat” set, it was intended as a promotional teaser but the radio show it was intended to promote only lasted three episodes… so probably not.

By my reckoning, there are some 55 individual covers that can be attributed to Andy Warhol (I do not count different formats that use the same, or similar, designs), but there is no way that a newly identified cover can be given accreditation, other than being recognised by Paul Maréchal and included in future editions of his “Complete Commissioned Record Covers“.

 

“Voices and Events” – A Previously Unrecognised Andy Warhol Record Cover.”

Occasionally serendipity strikes. A week ago I went to Stockholm’s Moderna Museet to see the retrospective exhibition of Marie-Louise Ekman’s art. In true Banksy style I left thru’ the gift shop and while there I noticed a new book about Andy Warhol’s early career–“Adman-Warhol Before Pop“, published b the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia, to coincide with their exhibition of the same name, which ran from February to 28th May 2017.

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Nicholas Chamber’s exhibition book published by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

I couldn’t resist a quick flick through just to see if there were any record covers featured. I was excited to see quite a few of Warhol’s earliest covers, including “A Program of Mexican Music“, “The Story of Moondog“, with Julia Warhola’s beautifully querky calligraphy, Johnny Griffin’s “The Congregation” and sketches for the Tennessee Williams LP, Billie Holiday EPs and one of the “Progressive Piano” designs. There was also a picture of one of Julia Warhola’s early attempts to write the cover for “The Story of Moondog” album.

 

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Julia Warhola’s trial version of the cover text for “The Story of Moondog”.

But what I wasn’t prepared for was:

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Page 97 in “Adman-Warhol Before Pop” with a picture of the cover slick for an recording of an NBC radio programme called “Voices and Events“.
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The cover slick for “Voices and Events” box set.

Having made reproductions of the “Night Beat” box set, I immediately recognised that this was the design for a similar box. While there exists a physical example of the “Night Beat” set, discovered by famous Warhol collector and author, Paul Maréchal, that has a record company catalogue number, as far as I know no physical example of the “Voices and Events” box exists and so I cannot know if it was actually released. I don’t even know if it was intended for a box of seven-inch EPs or for LPs, but I suspect the former.

So–all you Warhol cover collectors out there please start searching! Meanwhile I’m gonna try to make me a copy.