Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

July 13, 2017

two remaindered Warhol exhibition catalogues from Jablonka Galerie

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 1:57 am

Many books are published which include Andy Warhol’s name in the title: biographies with an agenda by people who did not know him; memoirs by people who were a part of his orbit; critical works which attempt to shoehorn him or his work into the service of some critical theory; meanderings on his role in the sixties or as a prophet of the internet age or whatever. Some are worthwhile; many are not. What matters most to me is Warhol’s art, and as the man was a workaholic, there is a lot of it—-in fact, more than any of us (except those who worked alongside him) could have anticipated. Warhol was also a man who took a motif and explored it over and over with variations, and presented all of those variations for study and contrast. Imagine if a contemporary dramatist who is also a film-maker……for example, Neil LaBute….took one scene from one of his plays, and presented seven different versions of the scene, some with different lines, some with significantly different direction, maybe one or two which replaced one actor with another….and then presented filmed versions of those multiple scenes which added up to 150 minutes and presented that as a feature film. And then he did that with the NEXT scene and released THAT as a feature film a month or two later. And then took the whole play and wound up eventually issuing FOURTEEN feature films in a year, each consisting of one scene from the play in multiple versions. It would change our way of looking at a play and a feature film. Of course, he’d lose a lot of his audience that way, but those he kept would no doubt get much deeper into his craft, and he would actively change the way the audience watched the play and the way the audience felt about drama. It would also slow down things–we’d be forced to stop and smell the roses (we’re not discussing Warhol’s own films here, but the 1965 HORSE contained elements of that approach)….and while we were stopped, to COMPARE and contrast the roses, and ponder the nature of roses, etc.

Andy Warhol’s multiple variations on a motif lend themselves to that kind of appreciation, and thus a Warhol exhibition (or exhibition catalogue) which provides a deep study of a particular series or a particular approach can be quite enlightening. Perhaps the ultimate example of that idea could be found at the Dia: Beacon in Beacon, New York, where Warhol’s SHADOWS series (90+ works) was presented  in one large room from 2003-2014 (I had the privilege of experiencing it in 2011 and spent five or six hours in the room). Here is a pic from that exhibition:

warhol shadows pic

The Jablonka Galerie in Koln, Germany, has done a number of these deep investigations of related and little-known works among Warhol’s archive, and the reason I am writing this piece today is to alert you that the beautiful exhibition catalogues from two of these exhibitions seem to have been remaindered in recent months and are now available at fire-sale prices (one was 19 and one was 15, before I used sale coupons!) at some of the Half Price Books stores here in Central Texas. Each is from a limited edition of 1500 copies worldwide, and each is full of beautiful and original and relatively unknown Warhol pieces. I’ve spent a lot of quality time with these books, and I notice that some copies still are on the shelves at HPB. You’d better grab them fast!

The first is PORTRAIT DRAWINGS, from a 2001 exhibition. It includes 78 richly  reproduced hand-drawn sketches of people–some no doubt intended for use in portraits, but many which don’t seem to have been. Warhol always had a distinctive and expressive hand, going back to the late 1940’s, so these works are a pleasure. After the 78 drawings, we get four finished portraits, none of which I’d seen before, two of Jacques Bellini and two of Herman Hesse (the Hesse portraits will remind many of Warhol’s series TEN PORTRAITS OF JEWS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, a favorite series of mine). The opening essay by Warhol’s longtime associate Vincent Fremont provides context for the works and an appreciation of Warhol as draughtsman.

warhol jablonka 1

Here is a picture from that exhibition:

warhol jablonka 3

The second book, HEADSHOTS, comes from a 2000 exhibition of 38 Warhol color portraits from 1972-1986. The ones from the 80’s, in particular, are fascinating as we see his technique evolve from the better known 70’s portraits. The exhibition (and thus book) also included an additional 21 hand-drawn faces from 1955-1960, most of which will be unfamiliar. To compare the late 50’s hand-drawn headshots with the later polaroid and silkscreen and painted portraits  from the 70’s/80’s really gives an insight into Warhol’s evolution…and reminds us also how much was consistent. The book opens with a witty and insightful essay from Bob Colacello on Warhol’s portrait business and what the portrait genre meant to him, on any number of levels.

warhol jablonka 2

What Mr. Warhol ate for breakfast, what TV shows he enjoyed, and who he slept with can be discussed by others who find that interesting. For me, the work is what matters and what will remain. Those who care about that work should check out these two books–I can’t imagine that exhibition catalogues published in a limited edition for fifteen-year-old exhibitions will be around long….I’m assuming the publisher’s remaining stock was sold off into the netherworld of remaindered books (which is why I see three sealed copies of each at various HPB stores in Central Texas). Buy it now, or pay someone big bucks later for it. Pour yourself a craft beer, put a late-period Chet Baker album on, settle back into a comfortable chair, and spend a few hours with one of these books. Warhol left an amazingly large legacy of individual works, and they are here for us to savor….and then, eyes opened, for us to re-emerge into the world. Thank you, Andy Warhol.

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