Arts Magazine, April 1970

Greta Garbo, and Monroe. Deitrich and DiMaggio. Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean. On the cover of a magazine… Ahum, no. This blog will not do a one-eighty and focus on Madonnas’s lyrics. But as i’ve mentioned i, and the blog, will now try and turn the focus to magazines. I fully understand that this will not be an easy thing to do but as i’ve already said many times before i didn’t think the dust jackets would be easy either, and that turned out pretty good so i guess we’ll see that happens. Anyways, let’s get down to it! I figured since i’ve been away for so long i better come out with guns blazing, so it’s time for the big ol’ drumroll once again.. Coolness was promised, and coolness you shall have! And what can be cooler than something previsouly “unknown”? And by that i mean something that noone in my close little circle of Warhol-collecting-people had ever seen before. I’m sure a couple of collectors who don’t see the point in blogging about their finds have this on a shelf somewhere. Anyways, as it turns out it might not be entirely as unknown as i initially thought, but more on that later. It’s also NOT in Paul Maréchal’s excellent book Andy Warhol: The Complete Commissioned Magazine Work. That’s right, i called it excellent. This really is a FANTASTIC book and source of information, basically a must have for anyone interested in this area or whatever of Warhol’s work. I can’t say that i’ve read it cover to cover (yet) but a good thing is that unlike the case with the dust jackets where i had to try and find and put together bits of information here and there and, without sounding too pomposterous, try and write my own book i’ll now have the help of someone else who have already done all the legwork. It’s not all good though as i quite enjoyed playing detective but who knows, maybe i’ll still be able to dig up something of my own…

Hmmm… it really has been a long time since i last did this. I’ve been staring at the screen now for 30-something minutes trying to come up with something to write. Previously i think i’ve had a pretty good idea about where to go and what to try and get down and followed some kind of a map to get there, guess i’m a bit rusty… I think i usually start with WHAT it is but why not start with the WHERE this time. As with my previous “new discovery” – The Strange Case of Lucile Cléry which Guy Minnebach tipped me of about i can’t take any credit for finding this thing either. That part should instead go to Aaron Cohen who runs the excellent webshop/site kind of thing Projectobject. If i remember correctlt he got this from ebay which is quite amazing, i don’t think i’ve ever found anything like this on there that passed totally under the radar. I think this was also the case with the previously mentioned book that Guy found, very surprising… I’ve come to know Aaron a little bit since i seem to always end up at his site sooner or later during my Google-image-searching-extravaganzas… Anyways, he pretty much always has some really cool Warhol related stuff like book/dust jackets and magazines for sale and you can check out some of it here, personally i’ve always thought the Art Cash is cool and the Man on the Moon playbill looks really great. But i’m all about magazines nowadays so, those will have to wait… Anyways, this whole thing started out back in August when Aaron emailed me and asked if i had seen the latest sale of a yellow MTV on ebay and then he kind of casually mentioned something like “oh, and check out these magazines that i found…” and attached were images of the Stern Magazine/John Lennon cover that i had seen before but there was also another one that i hadn’t seen. I wasn’t entirely sure though, as i mentioned i haven’t read Maréchal’s book like some people read the bible so i figured maybe it was still in there somewhere, but i have also gotten a list of magazine covers from Guy Minnebach and i was at least certain that this one was not on that list. But one never knows with these things, i guess hypothetically it could be a known cover and even though Warhol is clearly credited on the cover there could still be some reason for it not to be considered a Warhol after all. Whatever the case i didn’t want to waste any time trying to figure that out so when Aaron said he still had it available for sale and when i saw that he had put it on his site i of course panicked as usual and felt i had to jump on it and so i told him i would gladly buy it. I think i ended up paying $100-115 or something like that which i think was a great and very generous deal. We’ve wheeled and dealed and traded a few times before this and it’s always a pleasure. So again, thanks so much for this Aaron!

That about sums up the “where” and leads us down the natural path of the “what”… So, what is this thing. And… well, besides the obvious that it’s a magazine it’s more specifically a copy of a magazine called Arts Magazine from April of 1970. I’ve not been able to find a great deal of information about the magazine itself but there is a Wikipedia page and it seems it was published under various namnes – The Art Digest, Arts and finally Arts Magazine, from 1926 up until 1992. I haven’t made an effort to try and find out when the name changes were done because, well… it really doesn’t matter. On the cover is a collage with a polaroid photo of Gregory Battcock with the black jacket still attached together with some scribblings that i can’t really make out… The best i can do is “Gregory Battcock with something something”… is the last word “bucky”? If so then i have no idea what that means… I guess it’s not all that important anyway. I can’t say i’ve been able to find anything else really useful when it comes to cover design, but there is some information on the title page. There’s an image of it below but i’ll still do a little copy/pasting just for the hell of it.

On the cover: Travel Piece (1970) by Andy Warhol for Arts Magazine. This original work of art includes the three collages appearing on pages 23-25 of this issue. Characteristic of the artist, this piece-made up of photographs taken during Gregory Battcock’s and David Bourdon’s commissioned trip to Paris – reflects the banality of the “family album,” while commenting ironically on space as a factor in art. A major Andy Warhol retrospective will be on view at the Pasadena Art Museum, May 11 – June 21. (Cover coll. Ileana Sonnabend).

Actually pretty informative… And naturally this posted the question of, at least to me it did, who the hell are these people. Gregory Battcock? David Bourdon? Ileana Sonnabend? I have never heard of any of them. I now realize that i probably should have at least recognized the name David Bourdon since he is the author of the, from what i understand, highly renowned biography book Warhol. Perhaps a bit embarrassing i guess… but to rectify this i’ve made a mental note that i need to get that book, get and also read. But let’s start with Gregory Battcock (got to love that name), i have no intention to turn this into a huge biography so i’ll try and keep it short and sweet and stick to what’s relevant here. From what i understand he was basically an artist, art historian, art critic and a prominent figure of the New York art scene in the 60’s and 70’s. And i guess anyone who ticks all of those boxes around that time would end up crossing paths with Andy Warhol sooner or later. I guess they eventually became good friends and Battcock ended up starred in three of Warhol’s films – Batman Dracula, Horse and Eating Too Fast. I’ve also picked up that he became a special correspondent for Arts Magazine in 1967 and from there he would eventually go on to serve as editor of the same magazine in 1973. Sadly he ended up being brutally murdered on christmas eve in 1980 in his appartment in Puerto Rico and from what i can tell the murder remains unsolved. For those wanting to know more about this guy i can recommend this site which is the one where i stole most of this “knowledge” from. Some other guy namned Joseph Grigely apparently found the collected estate of Gregory Battcock abandoned in a warehouse in 1992 and there has been exhibitions of this stuff as late as the previous summer. There is also some information on Waholstars here and here. There was also a book titled Oceans of Love: The Uncontainable Gregory Battcock published back in August so it seems he’s all the rage at the moment… That’s enough about him, maybe “he was friends with Warhol” would have done just fine…

On to David Bourdon and from what i can tell the story is pretty much the same… for some reason there is only a german Wikipedia page but thanks to Google translate i can tell you that he was a journalist, art critic and author who, like Battcock was a prominent person in the art scene of the 60-70’s and therefore of course also became close with Warhol. I think he also had some kind of role in Batman Dracula, i haven’t seen the film myself but i’m guessing it was a smaller kind of role. There is a pretty good biography thing here but i’ll sum it up like this, the guy wrote and worked for a lot of magazines – Village Voice, Life, Smithsonian Magazine, Vogue, GEO and Art in America. He was also president of the US branch or whatever they call it of The International Association of Art Critics. Seems he was also involved in some capacity in some Factory projects, for example the 1963 series of Elvis Presley silk screens. It feels like i’m just trowing out irrelevant links left and right but i found this interview with Bourdon pretty intersting. So yeah… again this all boils down to that he was friends with Andy Warhol.

Last but not least, Ileana Sonnabend… She actually has a Wikipedia page so that makes things a little bit easier. She is also perhaps the least important in this mess of a soup so i’ll not dive in too deep but i have to go from her and end up at Warhol one way or another so let’s see… For a number of years she was married to a guy whose name i actually recognized, and that guy was Leo Castelli. Even though i knew the name i can’t say i knew much more, but basically he was a big shot art dealer whose gallery showcased the work of people like Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and of course also Andy Warhol. I’m guessing he and Warhol ended up as close friends and in, if i’m not mistaken, 1965 Warhol made a silkscreen of him in his jacket and tie. Oh well, that’s enough about him, Back to Ileana… in 1962 she opened her own gallery called The Sonnabend Gallery in Paris and from what i can tell this was a pretty bid deal and instrumental in making American art of the 1960s known in Europe. I’ve also read that Sonnabend was an early and enthusiastic supporter of Warhol and presented three important exhibitions of his work at her gallery in Paris – Death and Disasters (1964), Flowers (1965), and Thirteen Most Wanted Men (1967). I’m pretty sure that is was during this show in Paris in 1965 where Warhol made the famous announcement that he was retiring from painting to focus on filmmaking. Also not important here, sorry… Once again we end up with the conclusion that yeah, Sonnabend was good friends with Warhol. And thus the circle is complete. These three people that i had never heard of knew Andy Warhol. How very fantastic, exciting and wonderful all at once!

Soooooooo… maybe i should have just stayed with what is written on the title page. In short, Warhol sent Gregory Battcock and David Bourdon to Paris to snap some photographs. But what i’ve been trying to get to with all this are the four words at the end there – “(Cover coll. Ileana Sonnabend).” What does this mean? Is Sonnabend credited with the collage but then Warhol is still given credit for the actual cover, is that a common thing? Or is the cover supposed to be seen as a part of the “original work of art titled Travel Piece” that is the three page collage IN the actual magazine, and therefore credited to Andy Warhol? I have no idea. Like i said i don’t really know how these things work but i find it somewhat, well…unclear. Whatever the case and i won’t dwell on that anymore, this is a magazine with a cover that is clearly credited to Andy Warhol on the actual cover and it’s NOT in Maréchal’s book, whoohoooo! Pretty freaking cool!

However, as i mentioned at the beginning it might not be as unknown as i thought. I’ve been “researching” the cover here and there for a couple of weeks and the only thing i could dig up was this old archived story from the magazine Artforum International. I’m not sure when this article was published but my guess is that it was done so in the September 2012 issue, and that guess is based on another one of these archive sites, more specifically this one. You can’t read the full article without a subscription but luckily the interesting part is right at the top…

“IN APRIL 1970, Gregory Battcock appeared in his underwear on the cover of Arts Magazine, the publication he would briefly lead as editor some three years later. Like “Andy Warhol’s Travel Piece,” the three-page spread it announces, the cover’s design, credited to Warhol, looks unfinished. Battcock is pictured in a Polaroid photo, its black jacket still attached, which has fallen at an informal angle on the gridded layout form used for the magazine’s pasteup. In the midst of this arch disarray, the critic–a notoriously handsome, sexually voracious bon vivant who was particularly fond of travel (on ocean liners if possible)–perfectly occupies the position of gay icon. He wears white briefs and a sleeveless T-shirt and is seated with his legs splayed, sexy mustache dominating what’s visible of his backlit face (cut off, in the photograph, just above his eyes). Here we have the writer as malleable object, sponsored by Warhol to travel to Paris with fellow critic and intimate David Bourdon for the express purpose of producing a project for the magazine (though without any explicit agenda for their stay).”

So i guess the avid reader of Artforum International would have been given the heads up about the covers existence a couple of years ago. Too bad i don’t read any art magazines, maybe i should start….

If perhaps not shocking it was at least a little surprising to find that article and i’m always happy when i find stuff like that. If nothing else if gives me a couple of lines of text to fill out an otherwise boring post with… So far all was well and good. But then last night i was flipping through the actual magazine to see if there was some other intersting mentions of something in it. I didn’t find anything like that but for some reason i had missed that the title page called the work “Travel Piece” so i then i did a quick google search for that and something else and what Google threw back at me was at least more shocking than surprising this time. Turns out a copy of this magazine was up for auction just a couple of weeks ago! That one is a lot cooler than mine though since it’s also signed… and one of the previous owners, Börje Bengtsson, who coincidentally is Swedish and apparently runs a gallery in Landskrona claims it’s the only signed copy he has ever seen. I have no idea who this guy is either but if one is to believe the information in the listing he is “a leading world-wide dealer in Warhol material for over 30 years”… maybe i should contact him and see if he has some other magazines for sale. It also states the obvious that “Edition unknown, few survive”, and i guess one can’t argue with that. Even though i’m new to the whole magazine-scene i’m still surprised that you see them on ebay now and then. I’ve tried to get information from the publishers of the books regarding the sizes of print runs but so far not a single company has been able to provide this. And considering how rare many of the books are i would imagine that ever fewer of the magazines survived… So it will be steep hill to clilmb for sure.

There it is. My first post about a magazine and the beginning of a new quest. And finally i get to remove that “coming soon” thing from the magazine menu and actually put something there… I have high hopes for a fun ride and i’ve already picked up six or seven of them i believe so there’s more stuff coming up!

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