Andy Warhol – Moderna Museet, 1968

This one is pretty cool. I must admit i didn’t really know about this catalogue nor the relatively high scarcity of it until a couple of months ago, i basically came across images of it while searching for other books. Perhaps a bit embarrassing since not only was the exhibition held in Stockholm, Sweden but it was also a pretty big deal at the time and according to Guy Minnebach one of the most impressive Warhol books/catalogues ever. I did however of course know about the exhibition, and mainly for two reasons. The first being that it featured the now (in)famous Brillo Boxes dubbed “Stockholm type boxes” which i hope to return to in a coming post but in short this is my favourite Warhol design (if you can call it his design?) and the object that started my interest in Warhol in the first place. The second reason are all the famous quotes that are now on a couple of million posters, postcards and other stuff like that. The most famous of these is of course – “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”, personally i am not a superfan of these posters and things but in the book they are also translated to Swedish which is pretty neat in a way and something i hadn’t seen before. Anyways, i don’t know a whole lot else about the exhibition in general. It was held in 1968 and organized by Pontus Hultén, a long time friend of Warhol’s and as far as i know it was the first big exhibition of Warhol’s work in europe. In exchange for one extra silk screen for the exhibition Hultén also managed to provide Warhol with plane tickets and flew him to Stockholm. One funny thing about the famous quote though, and that is this article (sadly it seems it’s only available in Swedish) written by Olle Granath who was one of the editors and responsible for putting together the text for the book. Preparing for his work he says he was handed a box by Pontus Hultén containing “everything” that was written of and about Andy Warhol. After working his way through it all he then presented his basic manuscript, the feedback from Hultén was basically “great, but i’m missing one quote… the one about being world famous for 15 minutes” to which Olle Granath supposedly replied “had that quote been somewhere in all this material i would have made a note of it”. After a long period of silence of the phone Hultén then replied “if he didn’t say it he just as well could have, so go ahead and include it in the book” and thus one of the world most famous quotes was born, a pretty funny story!

Since i didn’t really know it existed i obviously haven’t been looking for it. But once i got my eyes on it i of course got that feeling that i had to try and find it. Naturally the first strategic strike was on Amazon, Abebooks and ebay but with prices starting on $190 for a supposedly damaged copy i had to look elsewhere. So i started looking around, i found a number of old listings like this one at Swedish site Bukowskis Market from 2013 where the book sold for 1000 sek which at that time was about $150 or so, and that copy looked pretyt beat up. Another Swedish auction site is Stockholms Auktionsverk where this copy was sold in 2012 at about the same price. And i don’t know if this is for real or not but another copy was sold at the same site in 2011 for 40 000(!) sek. It was also on Christie’s at about the same time selling for almost $2000, some people truly are crazy… Then i found what appeared to be a flawless first edition at some other Swedish site here with a price tag of 3000 sek or about $400. So… both highs and lows but the conclusion was still that it might be possible to find a copy and at the same feel that i made a pretty good deal.

Turns out i was right, and perhaps also lucky. A couple of days after new years i spotted this auction at the site i love to hate – Auctionet. As with a lot of other sites if offers you to keep saved searches of items and topics that interest you. However, in my opinion most of the “Warhol stuff” that turns up is crap aimed at stupid/uninformed/ignorant people with too much money. For example this reissue of The Velvet Underground & Nico that sold for 1000 sek, poor unenlightened buyer… To me putting things like this up for prices like this is almost a little dishonest, but that’s another story. Occasionally something cool and “real” pops up though, i don’t enjoy to relive my story with Cool Gabriels, but whatever the outcome it was pretty cool that it was listed at a Swedish site. And there’s this signed copy of Love You Live that sold the day before yesterday for 5000 sek. Anyways, the book looked to be in very good condition and as always i can’t keep my cool and placed a bid right away. Interest was surprisingly high with five bidders myself included and i didn’t think i would come out on top since i was hoping to not have to pay more than 500 sek for it. Anyways, my initial bid was quickly trumped and for once i then stayed away from it until the auction was ending and i then thought about the stupid situation with Cool Gabriels and put in a much higher bid than what i had first planned. I’m trying to get my head to understand that, regardless of how much fun it is to look around for stuff, not spending a couple of extra dollars are not worth the time and effort to wait for something to turn up again. But as it turned out i didn’t have to stretch my bid THAT much as it closed at 600 sek or around $70…

A fantastic deal? Well, basically yes… but i’m not a frequent user of auction site other than ebay and have never really been to any “real” ones expect some hillbilly style auctions held in barns and places like that during the summers at our vacation house. And then it’s just for the fun of it and not to actually buy anything. Anyways, i’ve now had to learn about things like “hammers fee” and “buyers premium” and what they mean. I’ve also learned that shipping a book a couple of miles between two places in the same country can cost more than what shipping the same book halfway around the world would do. But whatever, all in all and with everything included i payed just short of $120 for this book which i still feel was a pretty good deal. Not fantastic, but good enough… After i had won the auction i emailed a little bit with fellow collector Guy Minnebach who then crossed his fingers for me that it would be a first edition since no mention of it was stated in the listing. Edition, you say? I just accused other people of being uninformed and i guess when it comes to this book i’ll have to include myself in that category. Even though noted in some of the listings on all other places i had looked it had complete flown over my head that there were different editions of this book. But oh well, had i known it would have not have been a thing that’s would have kept me away from it and at this point it was already to late to worry or care about things like that. So i just crossed my fingers as well. In lack of a better word it was sadly not the first edition but the second, but as said that is of little importance to me and whatever the edition i’m pretty thrilled i could get it for what i ended up paying.

And it really is a fantastic book! I haven’t had time to really sit down with it so i’m going to have to return with a proper review kind of thing later, but wow! I would guess there are more than 300 black and white photographs of Warhol himself, his superstars, work at the factory and also what i assume are stills from some of his films. Granted i’m of course very intested i can’t say that i have a good enough basic knowledge or whatever of all areas of Warhol’s work so in that aspect this book is a real goldmine and a book i plan to spend many nights with! When i got my hands on i just started looking a this page and that page and a pretty funny coincidence was that the second of third page i turned to was the one with the Orange Disaster pictures from the Death and Disaster series. Not a funny image in any way but a funny coincidence because it’s an image that is used on a record cover for a pretty rare VU bootleg called Orange Disaster. Other pictures also have a connection to the record covers, for example there are a lot of images of the Flowers design and Warhol’s work on that. Although as it turns out it wasn’t the exact design that was used on Arab Spring’s Literature album it’s pretty clear where they got the inspiration for it. As said i haven’t worked my way through the book so there might be other references as well, to be continued… Among all the tons of cool photographs i’ve also found a couple that feature my favourite topic – The Brillo Box – also very cool!

When it comes to the condition it really is excellent. The discription said “unread” and this actually seems to be the case. The only teeny-tiny little issue is a crease or wavey kind of thing on the front cover about 2 cm from the back which runs all the way across the cover, top to bottom. It must have been stored with other books or things on top of it which caused the cover to slide a little bit and then left like that for a while… or something along those lines. I’m in the process to see if it’s possible to even this out a bit by putting some heavy books on top. But if not it doesn’t bother me in any way. And the cover really is cool, the Flowers design is another personal favourite out of all of Warhol’s work and it looks pretty damn amazing on this book. And the colors are still very bright and clear so… all things considered a great looking copy as far as i’m concerned.  And though not a perfect fit in my collection of dust jackets i think it’s very cool and a thrilling addition to my collection in general! I’ve also been fightning with both my camera and photoshop but sadly i’m not an expert at using either of those, so i apologize for what appears to be a blue background in some of the images. I’ll sort that out sometime in the future…

Even though it’s only february this will quite possibly be one of my best and most exciting finds of the year. Hope i’m wrong though….

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Warhol by the Book

Out with the old and in with the new is right. I’ve posted earlier about the first (at least that i know about) exhibition of Warhol’s books called Reading Andy Warhol held at the Brandhorst Museum in Munich and how that exhibition catalogue helped with me images of some dust jackets i didn’t know about. Well, that exhibition is already yesterdays news since it ended almost a year ago. And there is also something bigger and most likely also better on the horizon.

I can’t honestly say that i’m up to speed with what”s happening in the art world in general, most of it is just weird and pretentious to me. I don’t keep track of current and/or upcoming exhibitions at different museums and things like that. However, i do try and look around for Warhol related shows from time to time but i can’t say i spend that much time on it. So, with that said there’s probably a 50/50 chance i would have caught this upcoming thing. But thanks to fellow collector Guy Minnebach i didn’t have to worry about missing out. Anyways, time to get to the point!

In just a few months, march 7th to be exact an exhibition called Warhol by the Book will open at the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown and this will be the first US exhibition to focus on Warhol’s book work . Even though i will not be able to go see it and don’t have any more information other than what’s on the site and in the press release i’m very excited about these news! The exhibition is organized by The Andy Warhol Museum and the curator is Matt Wrbican – chief archivist at The Warhol. I’ve never had any contact with him personally but from what i’ve heard from Guy Minnebach he is (perhaps obvious) extremely knowledgeable and a true gentleman, so all things set for a great exhibition! Just yesterday i mentioned my small “Warhol library” but maybe i shouldn’t brag and boast too much. My twenty or so books definitely pales in comparison to the more than 400(!) items that will be featured in this exhibition. I can’t even start to guess what’s among all this stuff. Besides the obvious dust jackets that i’m mainly interested in i know that there are lots of books with illustrations by Warhol such as cookbooks, children’s books and a ton of other stuff. Add to that a couple of extreeeeeeemely rare and sought after books what were privately published in the 50’s, for example In the Bottom of My Garden and Holy Cats by Andy Warhol’s Mother which were both up on Christie’s just a couple of weeks ago. Maybe the little booklet that i was once so proud of finding will also be on display. But how to get to +400 items… can’t wait to see it all!

I also know that Guy Minnebach has lent at least one book to the exhibition. I’ve actually invited him to guest blog about that particular book so i won’t spoil the surprise in case he decides to take me up on my offer. But he has sent me some images and i will say that it’s an amazing looking book, and since not even The Warhol has a copy i would guess calling it rare is nothing but a huge understatement. Another thing i know for certain is that the only book cover that i’ve chosen to keep “secret” and that Guy Minnebach found just a couple of months ago will also be up for display. I won’t spoil that surprise either but maybe that will be a good thing for me personally. This book is probably the one item i’ve looked for the most, ever. I’ve contacted tons of users at Librarything who claim to have it, every single seller at Amazon for each and every edition i could find just in case is was wrongly listed, then in some cases annoyed the same sellers by also contacting them on Abebooks, obsessively checking sites like BookFinder several times a day and finally image searched for hours an hours, … And all for nothing! Hopefully soon when this cat is out of the bag more copies will surface.

Even though the exhibition does not seem to focus primarily on the dust jackets i’m very happy that this area of Warhol’s work will get it’s place in the spotlight. I guess some of it might have been there already as part of other exhibitions, as i said i’m not really up to date with these things. But whatever the case it’s very cool to see another exhibition centered on Warhols’s books. I’m also very selfishly happy that i’ve been able to accumulate as many dust jackets as i have before this happened. I have no real opinion about what the previous exhibition in Munich did for the interest of this area of Warhol’s work but i would guess that this upcoming show will get much more attention and hopefully also help raise interest. Not only is it in the US but also, as said, organized by the heart of it all.

I’m really looking forward to this and can’t wait to see images from the show and read reviews and whatnot! And i didn’t get the exhibition catalogue for the show in Munich but i will definitely try and get a copy of it for this one! Good luck and best wishes to all involved!