“I’ll never forget the humiliation of bringing my portfolio up to Carmel Snow’s office at Harper’s Bazaar and unzipping it only to have a roach crawl out and down the leg of the table. She felt so sorry for me that she gave me a job,” writes Andy Warhol in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again. Of course, Warhol being Warhol–the master of obfuscation and artificiality, this story may have been cribbed from his fellow artist and former roommate Philip Pearlstein. Besides leeching stories from other characters, an act that would define his later career, Warhol’s anecdote illustrates the want and the drive of his early years in New York, working as a commercial illustrator. This period is currently being reevaluated in the show Adman: Warhol Before Pop at the Andy Warhol Museum.
Curated in collaboration with the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney, the exhibition traces Warhol’s early work in the 1950s from his album covers, books, vintage ads and even, reconstructions of department window displays at Bonwit Teller, which he proudly took public credit for unlike Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg who were embarrassed by their capitalist faux-pas. Through both his commercial commissions and his own artist books, the beginnings of Warhol’s fascination with consumerism, glamour and his swishy personae can be seen.
Adman is also an exhibition full of butterflies, fat faeries, Natalie Wood, lithe 1950s boys, horoscopes for the cocktail hour (count me in!) and lots and lots of shoes, which makes it a perfect candidate for a GIF review. Read on: