Early drawings from Andy Warhol can currently be seen in a new exhibition at Galerie Bucholz in New York City’s Upper East Side neighborhood.
In the early 1950s, Andy Warhol collaborated with the young author Ralph Thomas (Corkie) Ward on a small number of illustrated and self-published books. Their first joint publication was “A Is an Alphabet” from 1953, a collection of 26 loose pages that combine a silhouette by Warhol with a verse by Corkie.
Warhol executed his drawings in the blotted line technique, which had become his first signature style and with which he made a name for himself as an illustrator within the New York publishing world. The emphasis on reproduction inherent to the blotted line technique continues in the figures within the drawings. Some of the figures had already appeared in other contexts or would soon: in the book jackets Warhol designed for New Directions, his illustrations for Glamour or Park East, or his LP covers for Columbia and Caedmon Records. Detached from their pictorial frameworks, and presented in the publication of an alphabet, the figures in “A Is an Alphabet” can be considered as prototypes. With each figure or pair assigned to a letter, they are components of a visual vocabulary.
In a series of large-format drawings, dating from c. 1953 and shown for the first time, Warhol combines the figures from “A Is an Alphabet” but abstains from giving them a figurative pictorial context, instead distributing them loosely across the paper to create formal compositions. At times, he does so in a way that could suggest combinations of letters, for example when he decides to place the figures side-by-side like a string of text.
Warhol and Corkie also worked together on an earlier, unpublished book project, “THE HOUSE THAT went to TOWN,” in 1952/53. The original manuscript of 40 light-blue pages is housed at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. In this exhibition, Galerie Buchholz presents a selection of draft designs for individual pages. Warhol is on display through the end of August.