Andy Warhol - Editions & Works on Paper New York Wednesday, February 15, 2023 | Phillips
  • Before Liz and Marilyn, there was Andy the illustrator. Andy Warhol began his career as a commercial illustrator on New York’s Madison Avenue for clients such as Tiffany & Co., Columbia Records, and Vogue. 1950’s New York saw a massive post-World War II boom in the economy and the production of consumer goods. Warhol’s arrival coincided with this extensive change in the motivations and strategies behind advertising and production. His consistent and unique designs piqued the interest of his clients earning him commissions and collaborations with some of the biggest brands of the day. Though stylistically different from the Pop art that would rocket him to international stardom, these early drawings offer a glimpse at an artist well on his way to establishing an art movement that would change the way the world conceived of contemporary art and its connection to pop culture.


    Much of Warhol’s early illustrations utilized his blotted line technique, invented and honed as an art student at Carnegie Mellon University. The rudimentary technique combines original drawing with ink transfer, a seemingly mechanical process. He would start with an initial illustration and place tracing paper over the design, then apply ink over a section of the image followed by pressing an absorbent sheet of paper over the wet ink to transfer the image. He would continue this process in small sections until the entire image was reproduced. This new technique allowed him to repeat an image and create varying illustrations along a similar theme. As a commercial artist, he might utilize the blotted ink drawing to transfer the image of a high heel, customizing each print with hand coloring to provide various options for the company’s final approval. It was typical in this era for Warhol to add a splash of watercolor or an indulgent pop of gold leaf to customize a print or add dimension to a drawing.


    “By inking over the top of a drawing, section by section, and blotting the ink onto a separate sheet of paper to create a kind of monoprint, the original image becomes degraded, the line becomes broken, and the composition seems hesitant and somewhat beyond the creator’s control.”1

    The Andy Warhol Museum demonstrating the blotted line technique


    His simple line drawings contain a child-like whimsy – though that’s not to say he didn’t take his work seriously. Warhol took to heart a piece of advice from one of his art teachers who told the young artist to paint for himself, not what others wanted to see. This would validate his desire to draw his favorite things: cherubs, shoes, cats, and often young men. Across these drawings and hand-colored prints, we see Warhol as a compulsive creator, documenting life and fantasy with the stark clarity of ink on paper.



    1The Andy Warhol Museum, Adman Warhol Before Pop, 2017, p. 31

    • Provenance

      The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York
      Susan Sheehan Gallery, New York
      Private Collection, New York

    • Artist Biography

      Andy Warhol

      American • 1928 - 1987

      Andy Warhol was the leading exponent of the Pop Art movement in the U.S. in the 1960s. Following an early career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol achieved fame with his revolutionary series of silkscreened prints and paintings of familiar objects, such as Campbell's soup tins, and celebrities, such as Marilyn Monroe. Obsessed with popular culture, celebrity and advertising, Warhol created his slick, seemingly mass-produced images of everyday subject matter from his famed Factory studio in New York City. His use of mechanical methods of reproduction, notably the commercial technique of silk screening, wholly revolutionized art-making.

      Working as an artist, but also director and producer, Warhol produced a number of avant-garde films in addition to managing the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground and founding Interview magazine. A central figure in the New York art scene until his untimely death in 1987, Warhol was notably also a mentor to such artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.


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Child in Elf Costume

c. 1956
Black ink drawing, on Strathmore paper.
23 x 14 1/2 in. (58.4 x 36.8 cm)
With the Estate of Andy Warhol and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Authorization inkstamps on the reverse, initialed 'VF' by Vincent Fremont of the Andy Warhol Foundation and annotated 'XX-38.17' and '308.005' in pencil on the reverse, framed.

Full Cataloguing

$4,000 - 6,000 

Sold for $4,410

Contact Specialist

212 940 1220

Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 15 February 2023