“Andy Warhol was reasonably well-known by the time he came to see me, although he was still being called Raggedy Andy, not because his work was sloppy, but because of his appearance. He’d had success with book-jacket designs for such publishers as New Directions and with his drawings and paintings for I. Miller shoe ads – and I knew I. Miller – but stories about his mishaps were making the rounds. When he’d zipped open his portfolio to show his work to the art director at Harper’s Bazaar, a cockroach had crawled out. Poor boy, that Raggedy Andy. But Harper’s had given him assignments. He won awards for his work, for his ‘commercial’ art, and he never pretended a difference between what he did to survive and what he called his art. To his credit, I think it was all the same to him. He was a very busy young man. I used Warhol’s art in several of my perfume windows at Bonwit’s. In July 1955, just before my work began at Tiffany’s, I made some wooden fences, and he covered them with graffiti for a series of windows. They were fun, full of a childish playfulness.”
In the summer of 1955 Andy Warhol‘s career as a commercial artist took a new turn when Gene Moore hired him to provide artwork for the windows of the Bonwit Teller department store. Moore had arrived in New York in 1935, hoping to become a fine artist, and had ended up a window dresser. One of the jobs Moore took to support himself in New York was making paper mache flowers for the Bob Smith Display Company. When one of Smith’s customers, Jim Buckley, was made the display director of I. Miller Shoes in approximately 1937, he hired Moore to be his assistant. By the following year, Moore was also doing window dressing for Bergdorf Goodman’s and Delman’s department stores. In 1945 he was appointed the display director for Bonwit Teller. Moore often modeled his mannequins on Hollywood stars like Vivien Leigh and Audrey Hepburn, and was responsible for introducing the belly button on mannequins.
The cockroach story became part of Warhol’s legend. It was repeated in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again). However, according to the painter Philip Pearlstein, the incident had actually happened to him, not to Warhol.
Warhol wasn’t the only artist working for Moore. He was also using Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, who were window dressing under the combined pseudonym, Matson Jones. According to Moore, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns all worked with him during the same period. Rauschenberg and Johns continued to do windows for him when, in July 1956, Moore also started doing windows for Tiffany’s in addition to his continued involvement with Bonwit Teller.
President Elect, 1960-61/1964, James Rosenquist
The painting President Elect (1960–61/1964) includes a portrait of John F. Kennedy borrowed from a 1960 presidential campaign poster. James Rosenquist juxtaposed this portrait with images of middle-class wealth and consumerism—advertisements from Life magazine—in order to say, “Here is this new guy who wants to be President of the United States… what is he offering us?” Kennedy was the first presidential candidate to fully utilize the mass media in his campaign, and the painting is about “a man advertising himself.”
Dennis Hopper began working as a painter, a photographer, a poet and as well as a collector of art in the 1960s as well, particularly Pop Art. Over his lifetime he amassed a formidable array of 20th- and 21st-century art. Numerous works from his early cohorts, such as Ed Ruscha, Edward Kienholz, Roy Lichtenstein (Sinking Sun, 1964), and Andy Warhol (Double Mona Lisa, 1963); and pieces by contemporary artists such as Damien Hirst and Robin Rhode. He was involved in L.A.’s Virginia Dwan and Ferus galleries of the 1960s, and he was a longtime friend and supporter to New York dealer Tony Shafrazi. One of the first art works Hopper owned was an early print of Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans bought for $75.
Acetate mechanical for 82-inch Flowers, 1964. Ink on acetate, handwritten ink on Bristol board, overall
At the 1964 New York World’s Art Fair, the architect Phillip Johnson commissioned 10 artists to make large-scale works to adorn the facade of the State Pavilion—a monument Johnson had designed as a celebration of human advancement. Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and Robert Rauschenberg were among the Pop artists selected. Andy Warhol was another contributor. However, Warhol’s piece Thirteen Most Wanted Men, which depicted silkscreened mug shots of real criminals, was censored—covered with silver paint, and never seen by the public.
Was this event the catalyst for Warhol’s transition from felons to florals? The flower, a symbol of fragility and purity, is antithetical to the blunt violence associated with the criminal. The art historian Michael Lobel eloquently explores this collision of themes in Warhol’s work in his essay Andy Warhol Flowers: a fitting accompaniment to the comprehensive survey of Warhols’ Flowers paintings.
Warhol’s flower paintings, created between 1964 and 1965, were initially inspired by a photograph of several hibiscus flowers taken by Patricia Caulfield, then the executive editor of Modern Photography magazine. The foldout article depicted how a new Kodak home color processing system could manipulate color. Warhol appropriated the image without permission, cropped, copied, enhanced the contrast, and eventually settled on a square format that meant the paintings could be viewed from any orientation. Caulfield, by-the-way, sued Warhol for copyright infringement and it was settled out of court. We get to see Caulfield’s original photograph that was printed in Modern Photography magazine along with many of Warhol’s variations on it in paint, silkscreen and collage on a wide range of materials. A collection of these paintings was the focus of Warhol’s first show at the prestigious Leo Castelli Gallery in late 1964, and signaled his ascension into the legitimized art world.
by Jade Reason
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