Love is a Pink Cake
Medium: Portfolio of 25 unbound sheets (including title page)
Offset lithographs on pale blue paper
Sheet size: 11 x 8 1/2 inches, each
Created in collaboration with Ralph Thomas Ward [Corkie] who wrote the poems.
Price Upon Request
Warhol’s first explorations of the book medium were partially aimed at trying to enter the children’s book market, and thus often feature the alphabet or rhymes. Love Is a Pink Cake is the earliest example of such practice. The book features quippy poems accompanied by illustrations of famous men and women from history. However, the content of the poems is not quite child-appropriate, often alluding to the figures’ torrid love affairs or secret homosexual tendencies. Warhol’s friend and former classmate Ralph T. Ward authored the poems under the name Corkie.
Evidencing Warhol’s status as a young, still-emergent artist, Love Is a Pink Cake was produced using readily available materials: it was printed on blue office paper and sometimes bound using staples. As Lucy Mulroney writes in Andy Warhol, Publisher (2018), Ward and Warhol had ambitions of creating a series of children’s books in the early 1950s. Love Is a Pink Cake was the first book they pitched to publishers to set this goal in motion. They wrote to Farrar, Straus & Young; Harcourt, Brace; and Little, Brown. With each submission, Warhol altered his identity, often portraying himself as a woman as to attract greater interest. However, the book did not generate interest, and by 1955, Ward and Warhol’s collaboration ceased.
The collaborators’ parting of ways perhaps resulted from Warhol’s alleged romantic interest in Ward, which Ward did not reciprocate. Knowing this, Love Is a Pink Cake also reads like an awkward love letter. Through the poems, Ward effectively offers Warhol condolences for his unrequited love, using examples of other ill-fated relationships from history. Regardless of any personal conflicts, Love Is a Pink Cake lends playful visibility and legitimacy to promiscuity and homosexuality, which were widely considered taboo in the 1950s.