From printmaking innovator to social and sexual instigator, Andy Warhol was nothing if not a groundbreaker. “Popular opinion crowned Andy Warhol (1928-1987) as the ‘Prince of Pop’, an artist who created a pantheon of pictures that became icons of American consumer culture in the 1960’s.” Thus begins Andy Warhol by Joseph D. Ketner II, a thoroughly enjoyable glimpse into the life of a renowned and unusual celebrity artist. Raised in an immigrant, working class family during the Depression, Warhol rose through the echelons of New York art society to become one of the defining figures of the 60’s. “His eccentric personality and his entourage of acolytes captured media attention and altered the cult of celebrity.” A compact, accessible book with a nice sampling of Warhol’s works, Andy Warhol is a great place to dive into this artist’s complex history.
The book is part of a series published by Phaidon Press called Phaidon Focus. Phaidon lauds the series as offering “accessible, up-to-date, authoritative, enjoyable and thought-provoking books on internationally renowned modern masters.” Other artists featured in the series include Warhol contemporary Robert Rauschenberg, abstract sculptor David Smith, and figurative painter Francis Bacon. Phaidon itself has an interesting story as a publishing house that has focused on high quality, affordable books, especially art books, since its inception in 1923. Founded in Austria with an emphasis on history, philosophy and literature, the press was forced to move to England when the Nazis annexed Austria during World War II. Despite this setback, the press continued to thrive and expanded its operations to include a wider array titles focused on art and academia. According to Phaidon’s website, the press now has “over 1,500 titles in print, featuring the finest creative work from leading innovators in all areas of the arts, architecture, design, photography, cinema, travel and food.” Look for Georgia O’Keeffe, the latest in the Phaidon Focus Series, to be released in March.
If you’d like to peruse Warhol’s art instead of reading about his life, Andy Warhol Portraits, also published by Phaidon, boasts “the most comprehensive collection of Warhol’s portraits.” It’s a wonderfully big, glossy book that showcases well-known figures such as Jackie Kennedy, Elvis Presley, and Truman Capote. Possession Obsession: Andy Warhol and Collecting, another beautiful book by Phaidon, documents Warhol’s art acquisitions and displays items from his $30 million dollar estate. For a great in-depth movie on Warhol’s life, the library also carries PBS’s Andy Warhol: a documentary film. And if you just can’t get enough, Warhol’s prolific legacy can be enjoyed at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, the largest museum in the United States to focus on a single artist. – Rachael Perry, Adult Services