A Gold Book
Medium: Bound book with 22 pages (including title page and two blank pages); 19 pages: 13 pages, offset lithographs on gold paper, 4 pages, hand-colored offset lithographs, 2 pages, uncolored offset lithographs.
Sheet size: 14 1/4 x 11 1/4 inches, each
Edition size: approximately 100
Lettering by Warhol’s mother, Julia Warhola
White buckram cover. Annotated “To Cipe A.W.”, on cover in black ink
The book retains 5 pieces of interleaving colored tissue paper
Price Upon Request
In 1956, Warhol travelled through Asia with his friend Charles Lisanby, visiting Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and India. He was immensely inspired by the use of gold leaf on Buddhist sculptures he encountered throughout the trip, and in particular by Japanese sculptural objects. Upon returning to New York, he sought ways to add gold to his work, beginning a lifelong interest in using gold as a symbolic and aesthetic material. Many of Warhol’s drawings from the 1950s incorporate gold leaf, and a year after the trip, Warhol created A Gold Book. Seeing gold as an indication of wealth and prestige, Warhol often included it in his artworks and publications that he gifted to professional contacts as a way of currying favor with them. Later in his career, he gave or sold gold-embellished works to friends and contacts whom he knew to be wealthy.
Warhol made several versions of A Gold Book in 1956. This copy features 13 offset lithographs printed on gold-coated paper and 6 offset lithographs printed on white paper; four of the latter offset lithographs are also hand-colored. Between the pages, Warhol laid pink, purple, and teal tissue paper, some of which are still intact in this copy. A Gold Book is thus a sensory experience, replete with varied textures, colors, and sounds as one flips from one page to the next, causing the tissue to crackle. The covers of different versions of A Gold Book vary, as some are plain white buckram, while others feature a gold-coated paper cover which sometimes has an offset lithograph of a hand holding a flower printed on gold paper, pasted on top.
On the cover of this copy is a hand-written inscription: “To Cipe A.W.” Like 25 Cats and Wild Raspberries, this copy of A Gold Book comes from the collection of Cipe Pineles. Pineles was the first female member of the prestigious Art Directors Club and the first woman inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. Pineles also famously created opportunities for many artists, including Warhol, through commissioning editorial illustrations. If Warhol used gold as a key material when creating artworks and publications intended for his professional contacts, this copy of A Gold Book intended for Pineles would have been particularly important. This likely explains why this copy also contains many hand-colored illustrations. As an admirer and friend of many influential women in New York at the time, it is no surprise that Warhol maintained a relationship with the powerful and creative Pineles.
Some copies of A Gold Book open with a dedication inside the cover page, addressed to: “Boys Filles fruits and flowers Shoes and t.c. and e.w.” T.C. here refers to Ted Carey, a close friend of Warhol’s, while E.W. refers to Warhol’s then-lover, Edward Wallowitch. Wallowitch was Warhol’s first boyfriend, and he based several of the drawings in A Gold Book on Wallowitch’s photography. The various other people and objects in the list— such as boys, fruits, and flowers—allude to Warhol’s identity as a gay man, suggesting that the luxurious aspects of the book itself are a celebration of homosexuality.
Warhol typically produced books of this kind in editions of approximately 100, but he assigned almost every copy a number under 100. His early studio assistant Nathan Gluck recalled, “Andy got the idea that everybody wanted to have low numbers.” This deliberate muddling of authenticity is something Warhol would carry into his artistic practice in the 1960s and beyond.