Monday, January 20, 2014

Andy Warhol's Personal Calligrapher

phaidon.com
Throughout his career, Andy Warhol collaborated with his mother, Julia Warhola (1892-1972). She enjoyed drawing angels and cats, and did the drawing below of cats and a Campbell's Soup can years before Andy's own iconic Pop Art painting.

Cats by Julia Warhola   |   liveauctioneers.com   |   post-gazette.com
Warhol liked his mother's quirky drawings, but he especially admired her distinctive handwriting. Julia, who was widowed, moved to New York City when Andy was a young art director at Doubleday, and they shared the same apartment.

artnet.com
Above you can see a letter from Julia and below is Andy's business card, which he had his mother pen.

lettery.tumbler.com

archiveofamericanart.typepad.com   

In this funny early correspondence, one can see that Warhol's own handwriting was influenced by his mother's.

garybruderfineart.com
Much of Andy Warhol's early work, such as this lithograph, incorporates Julia's handwriting. She penned the LP record album cover below, for which she (not Andy for having art directed it) won a 1958 award from The American Institute of Graphic Arts.

popartheaven.com  

brainpickings.org
Here's a page from a cookbook that Andy Warhol created in 1959 with Suzy Frankfurt — again, the calligraphy is by Julia Warhola. To read how the cookbook evolved, and to get some insights into the young Andy Warhol, click here.

luc.devroye.org
In 2001, Spanish designer Pepe Gimeno created this type font, called Warhol. Perhaps it should have been named Julia Warhola!
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18 comments:

  1. Hello Mark, I loved learning about Julia Warhola--it seems that talent does run in families. Not only does her art and calligraphy lend insight into Andy Warhol, it should, as you recommend, be appreciated on its own. To me, her work has somewhat of the quality of Edward Lear's informal writing and illustrations.
    --Jim

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    1. Dear Jim,

      From the little I've read of Julia Warhola, I find an engaging personality that was both a little Old World, but also open to whatever was new. She was incredibly supportive of Andy Warhol, and even acted in one of his films. And I do see that Edward Lear quality in her drawing.

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  2. For sure, Julia Warhola greatly influenced her son. I didn't know about Julia, so this is very interesting. Her quirky style is full of character and charm. Cheers, L

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    1. Hi, Loi,

      Part of Warhol's genius was in seeing that his mother's writing would complement his illustrations perfectly. Glad you enjoyed reading about Julia!

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  3. I love his ( and her ) early work most of all - and so proud to have gone to 'Carnegie tech' myself. Have you been to the Warhol museum in Pittsburgh? It's phenomenal!
    Love the quirky calligraphy. Didn't they live in a grand townhouse though together -not an apartment? Or perhaps that was later.

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    1. Hi, Stefan,

      As I've mentioned here before, I not only attended Carnegie Tech, one of Andy Warhol's design professors — a man named Lepper — also taught me. He said that he remembered Warhol (still Warhola at that time), that Warhol was a good student, but that he was very shy and always sat as far back in a classroom as he could.

      Warhol started out as an advertising art director, and in the 1950s did live in a small apartment. In fact, when he started producing Pop Art, he couldn't get a show in New York, so his work premiered in a Los Angeles show. Then came the grand townhouse.

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    2. P. S. Yes, I've been to the Warhol museum, and enjoyed it very much. I've read that it's the largest museum in the U.S. devoted to one artist.

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  4. Dear Mark,
    A very interesting post. This has opened up some interesting ideas for my work with grade 5 who are learning about Andy Warhol at the moment. I see that his mother even starred in one of his movies!
    As a result of this post I have spent a very pleasant hour browsing the Internet and reading all about various members of the Warhola family!
    Bye for now,
    Kirk

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    1. Dear Kirk,

      I would love to see how 5th graders interpret Andy Warhol's work! I have a friend who has 3rd graders' artwork framed in her home, and every time I see it, I think, "What great Pop Art!"

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  5. Dear Mark - I had no idea about the strong relationship and working role that Andy Warhol had with his mother - perhaps the following quote from Andy may be indicative "I'd prefer to remain a mystery. I never give my background, and, anyway, I make it all up different every time I'm asked."

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    1. Dear Rosemary,

      I've always been intrigued with people who create new and famous personas out of their rather ordinary selves. I think that in Warhol's case, he enjoyed letting other people create the story; he just enjoyed the celebrity.

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    2. P.S. And I say that with all due respect to his art, which I admire.

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  6. Dear Mark, There is that saying that behind every successful man (artist) is a woman, No?

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    1. So I've heard, Gina, so I've heard . . .

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  7. I wonder if Andy's handwriting being influenced my his mother's handwriting is nurture as much as it is nature. Sometimes I write a certain sequence of letters and my father's handwriting comes out of me. I learned the Palmer method of handwriting which is very different than my father's penmanship so I always find it interesting when that happens.

    Very interesting post, Mark.

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    1. Hi, Steve,

      That's an unusual phenomenon, but my guess is that it happens more often than you would think. As one who studies graphology, I'm always interested in family signatures that are alike, and I know a couple whose handwritings are interchangeable — I never know which one has written the letter until I look at the sign-off. In terms of my own handwriting, it was consciously developed looking at older scripts.

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  8. Laughing at that gorgeous blue croc...aren't all the colours well matched in the calligraphy?

    Happy new year to you too mark

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    1. Hi, smr,

      The vividness of those croc colors tells me it's not watercolor but dyes that he used. Dr. Martin's Dyes are so brilliant that sometimes I mix them in with acrylics to make brighter colors.

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