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Andy Warhol and Sunday B. Morning

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) is one of the most well-known artists of the 20th century. He was also a film maker and author although he is known more for his artwork than any of his other exploits. Originally from Pitsburgh, Warhol moved to New York in 1949 where he started work as a commercial artist and even won awards for his advertisements. He had his first one man show in 1952 and by 1960 he was creating work based on those advertisements that he had worked on for the last decade. Warhol’s art focusing on mass market, consumerism and fame. In 1962 Warhol started the process of silkscreen printing his previous paintings which included the now iconic images of 'Marilyn, '10 Foot Flowers' and 'Cambell's Soup Cans' to name but a few. Warhol’s first successful limited edition prints are often referred to as the ‘Factory Editions’. Because of the nature of the printing methods used many of the prints from this edition have some kind of imperfection. Regardless of this, because of their rarity, today a single Andy Warhol, ‘Factory Edition’ print can command well over a £80,000. The market, collectability and importance of these works cannot be understated.

Probably Warhol’s most well-known work is the ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’, he once said of the food: “I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for 20 years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.” Many have sited this as the reason for his choice of artwork, to honour the thing that nourished him for so long. However he is also reported of saying “We live in an age when the traditional great subjects - the human form, the landscape, even newer traditions such as abstract expressionism - are daily devalued by commercial art.” So possibly his obsession with ‘Cambell’s Soup’ had less to do with his favourite lunch and more to do with his tendency to subvert consumerist ideas and to play tricks on the art market. Whichever the truth, the ‘Sunday B. Morning’ prints certainly came about as a result of Warhol’s wish to play with and challenge the art establishment.

After the success of the ‘Factory Editions’ Warhol began collaborating in 1970 with some partners in Belgium who operated a printing company, ‘Sunday B. Morning’ on a second series of prints. Warhol gave ‘Sunday B. Morning’ the negatives to his ‘Factory Editions’, the colour codes and they came up with the idea of a black ink stamp on the back of the work which says, “fill in your own signature”. The idea was to play with the concept of mass production. These new prints were to be exactly the same as the previous ‘Factory Edition’ prints but with the edition of different colour-ways. It was a joke on the art establishment. Anyone could but their name to the work, because why was Warhol’s name special? And the fact they were identical to the ‘Factory Edition’ was mocking the idea that they were special to begin with. If they were the same how could they be more important than these new prints?

This all came back to Warhol however when communication between him and ‘Sunday B. Morning’ began to fall apart. No one knows the exact details, possibly there was a falling out abut money, but the end result was that ties were broken between them. The printers however already had the negatives and the colour codes and so they printed! They published editions of 250 of ‘Marilyn’, ‘Flowers’, and ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’ in 1970. Their work looked exactly like the ‘Factory Editions’. When the ‘Sunday B. Morning’ editions began appearing on the art market, Warhol was not pleased. He had not stopped their production but when he came across a ‘Sunday B. Morning’ print, he would sign it “This is not by me. Andy Warhol”. This was particularly ironic given the black stamp that he had come up with implying that the name was unimportant. Even more ironically this only served to make the prints more sought after, especially the ones he signed. Warhol never challenged ‘Sunday B. Morning’ with legal action despite his incongruity at their existence and despite his apparent ambivalence towards them the ‘Sunday B. Morning’ series came to be an important part of Warhol’s oeuvre. The 1970 editions are even included in the book ‘Andy Warhol Prints, Catalogue Raisonne’. Unfortunately not many of the 1970’s ‘Sunday B. Morning’ prints exist today. They began publishing the prints again later, still using the same printing process that they have used since the beginning, all these prints are also stamped but now with blue ink rather than black.

There are many publishers are out there who have tried to reproduce these impressions, but none come close to the integrity of a ‘Sunday B. Morning’. This is because only ‘Sunday B. Morning’ possesses the photo negatives needed to create silkscreens exactly like the ones Warhol used for his ‘Factory Editions’. Meaning that you cannot get a higher quality Warhol print today than a Sunday B. Morning print!