Jack Wolfgang Beck, Andy Warhol and some Concert Gems by the Warwick Symphony Orchestra

While on the topic of new discoveries i thought i might as well get this out of the way. And before anyone goes falling out of their chair i just want to say that in all probability this is NOT something that we’ll see in a third edition of Maréchal’s book. I also have no intention to join the crazy crowd of people who’ll put any random cover from the 50’s featuring a line drawing on ebay as a “possible Warhol cover”. When it comes to this particular cover there are however plenty of small pieces out there to put together and even if the puzzle can’t be completed what’s on the table is still pretty interesting. At least to me it is, and it’s always fun to speculate…

It all starts with a guy namned Jack Wolfgang Beck. But why him and how do i even know he existed? Well, i noticed his name on the jacket for Forbidden Childhood where both he and Andy Warhol is credited with the design. I don’t have all the books in front of me right now but besides the three Dolphin books where Warhol is credited with the drawing and George Giusti with the cover design this is, as i recall it, the only dust jacket where the credit for the design as a whole is shared between Warhol and someone else. Naturally i started googeling this guy and i won’t get into a whole biography thing, primarily because i didn’t find that much. But anyone interested in reading up a little bit on him can check out this page that has some information. What is interesting though is what he did in the late 40’s and early 50’s. It seems he, like Warhol, got started in commercial art and advertising and eventually received his share of praise and recognition from art critics in NYC. Apparently he also had a big studio with a lot of extra space, and at some point Vito Giallo, who would eventually work as Warhol’s commercial art assistant for a brief period during the laste 50’s, suggested that they use all that dead space and turn it into a gallery. And thus The Loft Gallery was born, there is a lot of further interesting information about all this here. I don’t know who half of these people were and what they were all about but supposedly one critic said that they were all a “bunch of commercial artists who wanted to be painters”. Anyways, the artists who presented their work were Wolfgang Beck, Allan Hugh Clarke, Vito Giallo, Gillian Jagger, Edward Rager, Jacques B. Willaumez and last but not least Andy Warhol. What all this boils down to is that i think it’s safe to say that at this point in time Beck and Warhol were in fact friends to whatever extent.

I then figured if they worked together and shared the credit for one design maybe they did more stuff together? Unfortunately i haven’t been able to find anything else… and that could have been the end of that. But then i did find this record cover where Beck is clearly credited on the front cover. Perhaps not somthing to get all worked up about but then i also noticed that the record label was Camden, and even though the general design is quite terrible i got attracted to the small drawings of instruments. I immediately thought of the ones Warhol did for Madrigal’s Magic Key To Spanish and more specifically the drawing of a guitar. I don’t yet have the record(s) or the book but for some reason i thought there were more drawings of instruments in the book. Frank Edwards has done a great job of photographing all the images from the book as you can see in the previous link. But i don’t know… i think even i could draw a guitar of similar quality, at least if my life depended on it. I’ve looked for other drawings of instruments by Warhol and there is one on the cover for Latin Rhythms by the Boston Pops for example and some others can be seen here, here and here. But again, i don’t know… i guess there are only that many ways in which a simple drawing like this could be done. I will say this though, when looking at other stuff done by Beck i can’t find anything that resembles these instruments. I couldn’t find a lot of stuff but you can see some here, here, here, and here. But who i am to judge someones style or “art”, and just because i can’t find anything surely doesn’t mean that he couldn’t draw a guitar, i’m sure he was quite capable to do so. And even if Beck didn’t do the drawings himself that of course doesn’t mean that it was Warhol who did them. Or as Guy Minnebach very wisely put it in an email – “I think we’ll never know who did these, probably Beck. As it is not always really certain if AW himself did all the drawings he is credited for, sometimes he let friends do it…”. But as said, it’s always fun to speculate.

The final piece of the puzzle is that it is in fact on the Camden label where you’ll also find the incredibly rare and most recent discovery Melodic Magic as well as the equally rare Waltzes by Johann Strauss Jr. If you look at the catalog numbers those are numbered CAE-193 and CAE-158 respectivly, this record is numbered CAL-123 (i’m not sure what the deal is with CAL and CAE… LP and EP maybe?) and i guess that could be considered somewhat close but not really THAT close to the later and confirmed Warhol’s on Camden. However close one thinks it is this is of course yet another thing that means nothing when it comes down do it. Oh, and i actually got the record i didn’t just find an image of it. The image i did find led to a listing on etsy and since it was cheap enough i figured i might as well get it and go in for a closer look. For anyone wanting to do the same i’ll just add that there seems to be at least two versions of this with different coloring, if we call this the pink version then there is also a greenish version, one was sold on ebay a couple of months ago.

So… there it is. That’s my case for a possible Warhol cover. Basically two friends who without question shared the credit for one design in the mid/late 50’s and where one happened to be credited for a record cover on a label where the other one then later did two designs. I can’t say that i’m convinced by my own evidence…But then again, i’m not convinced about Warhol’s hand in the covers for Violin Concerto, Porgy and Bess and the Rhapsody in Blue/Grand Canyon Suite and the “evidence” laid out there either… The real loons and crooks who like to list “possibles” on ebay should ge check out this record… There are some nice fits there too, Camden label, violins, Erica Morini and even a catalog number that’s REALLY close to Melodic Magic… also available in not just one, but two colors. As for me, even though i found the cover and the whole thing interesting and worthy of a post i’m done speculating. At least for now…

jack-wolfgang-beck-concert-gems-1 jack-wolfgang-beck-concert-gems-2 jack-wolfgang-beck-concert-gems-3 jack-wolfgang-beck-concert-gems-4

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6 thoughts on “Jack Wolfgang Beck, Andy Warhol and some Concert Gems by the Warwick Symphony Orchestra

  1. Fantastic research Niklas. Even if the drawings should not be Warhol’s work, this cover really deserves to be discussed.
    Difference with the Forbidden Childhood book: both artists were credited, On the LP cover just Beck. So this might be a sign all work is his. But it sure is hard to tell.
    (The quote about Warhol who might have asked friends to do the job, is in particular said about the Amy Vanderbilt cookbook.)

  2. Pingback: A look back at 2015 | ratfab

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