Nearly 20 years after his untimely death, Andy Warhol remains one of the most talked-about cultural and artistic figures of the 20th century, renowned for such iconic works as his “Marilyn” paintings to his groundbreaking (if unwatchable) films such as Empire to his legendary parties at The Factory that attracted everyone from the glitterati of the 1960s to hangers-on Warhol might have picked up in the street.
But what fascinated Warhol more than anything was publishing, as is evident in Warhol by the Book, now at New York City’s Morgan Library & Museum (225 Madison Avenue) through May 15. This remarkable retrospective focuses on Warhol’s career as a book artist, spotlighting more than 130 objects dating from the artist’s student days, his years in New York as a commercial artist and self-publisher, and his work on a wide assortment of photographs, self-published books, children’s books, photography books, text-based books, and dust jacket designs.
In all, Warhol contributed to more than 80 projects for books and left traces behind of dozens of others that were never realized—books with such tantalizing titles as Love Is a Pink Cake, Leroy the Mexican Jumping Bean, and A Gold Book. It seems not just a great artist, but a great author was taken from us too soon.