Understanding the Catalogue Raisonné: A Brief Overview
Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné 1962-1987 is the fourth edition Catalogue Raisonné of Andy Warhol’s work that was revised and expanded in 2003 by curators Frayda Feldman and Claudia Defendi. According to the Andy Warhol Foundation, this catalogue is “the authoritative reference source on the subject, illustrates the breadth of Warhol’s work in printmaking and the depth of his innovations in the field, which together secure his position as one of the most important graphic artists of the twentieth century.”
The most recent addition to the Catalogue Raisonné is volume four, which documents Warhol’s painting, sculptures, and drawings from 1961-1976, aptly titled The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings, Sculptures, and Drawings. The four volumes are divided by periods of production, Volume 1 spanning 1961-1963, Volume 2 (1964-1969), Volume 3 (1970-1974) and the volume currently being developed, Volume 4 (1974-1976). This catalogue lists an inventory of works created in the three mediums, along with materials used, exhibitions and other relevant information regarding those particular mediums.
The Catalogue Raisonnés listed above are objectively the most comprehensive compilation of Warhol’s works, all of which are publicly endorsed and sponsored by the Andy Warhol Foundation. While research continues to provide new evidence not listed by the volumes in circulation, the catalogues continue to be revised and updated to reflect all of the most up to date and accurate information regarding Warhol’s vast collection of works.
There are five sections by which Warhol’s work is organized in the Catalogue Raisonné. Section I refers to early printmaking; Section II encompassed all standard edition published prints; Section IIA includes unique edition prints; Section IIB details trial proof edition prints; and Section III is comprised of unpublished prints.
Section I: Early Printmaking
This first section of the Catalogue Raisonné includes works from 1962 to 1968. This era of Warhol’s work is mostly comprised of small editions that were not meant to be published as large limited edition portfolios. A lot of Warhol’s early printmaking work includes stills from popular movies, such as his print Cagney (I.1) taken from Angels with Dirty Faces and The Kiss (I.2), using a still from Dracula. Warhol also used stills from his own films, such as the eponymous Sleep (I.7) and Blue Movie (I.15). The collection detailed in early printmaking is a small selection, featuring works FS I.1-15.
Section II: Standard Edition Published Prints
The second section of the Catalogue Raisonné is split into three parts: edition prints, unique edition prints (IIA) and trial proof edition prints (IIB). Edition prints refers to Warhol’s prints from 1962 to 1987, many of which were created for museum exhibitions. Almost all of the prints from the section are signed and numbered, and the editions are often more extensive than those from early printmaking, both with more variations and suites as well as numerous prints created from each image, with an average of about 250 edition prints per image.
Section IIA: Unique Edition Prints
Unique edition prints are works that are released as regular edition prints, even though each print is unique, such as the works in the Shadows suite. Most of the works were created between 1975 and 1979 and were published by Warhol himself under the title of “Andy Warhol Enterprises, Inc.,” though some were commissioned by outside sources, such as Double Mickey Mouse (IIA.269) and Mao (IIA.89). One print from each unique portfolio is displayed in Section II, but Section IIA contains about two or three prints from each unique suite, displaying the color and composition variations that the individual pieces entail.
Section IIB: Trial Proof Edition Prints
In the 1980s, Warhol expanded on his unique edition prints by choosing a limited number of proofs from each subject and highlighting them, often for their exceptional compositional or color variance among the group. During this period, Warhol published a trial proof for almost every work he did, as he suites started to portray a group of different subjects, rather than variations of just one subject. This shift allowed him to publish many more edition prints, as well as unique trial proof editions. Trial proofs are some of the most valuable and diverse prints from Warhol’s oeuvre, as they are all unique and in limited quantity.
Section III: Unpublished Prints
In the Catalogue Raisonné, Section III is divided into three parts of Warhol’s unpublished prints: Section IIIA, personal projects; Section IIIB, commissioned projects; and Section IIIC, portraits. However, these parts are all in the same section of the book, rather than being separated like Section II, IIA and IIB. Warhol’s unpublished prints are often in very limited, unnumbered editions and few are signed in comparison to his standard edition prints. Section IIIA contains personal projects, which are prints that Warhol often made as gifts for close friends, along with some unpublished variations of work that echoes his published suites. Most of the works from Section IIIB are commissioned projects for newspapers and magazines from early on in Warhol’s career, when he was a commercial illustrator. Section IIIC is primarily comprised of prints that are almost identical to his painted portraits, including subjects such as Truman Capote, Judy Garland and Giorgio Armani. As Henry Geldzahler is quotes in Andy Warhol Portraits, “[Warhol] was, in fact, the first artist for whom there was literally no difference in his work in painting and printmaking, except the material used to support the image; Andy used the same screens on canvas as he used on paper.”
Understanding the Language
When browsing the catalogue, there is a lot of language specific to the art world and screenprinting, so below is a list of key terms to understanding the Catalogue Raisonné.
Naming: Each piece is titled by the name given by Warhol, or if the work does not have a title, it will be titled by a description of the print. Following the title is the FS number. The number is a chronological method of cataloguing Warhol’s prints. It is used to distinguish his works beyond their names. For example, his Ads series is a collection of items numbered 350 – 395; each of those items is numbered depending on the order of their creation.
AP (Artist’s Proof): This term describes works that are equal to the quality of the edition but intended for the artist’s personal use––commonly about 10% of the edition. Warhol used these editions as forms of payment and gifts to friends.
BAT (“Bon à tirer”/ “good to print”): This is the print selected by the artist and the publisher to be the image for the edition.
Cancellation: The final impression before the screens are washed.
CTP (Color Trial Proofs): Equivalent to trial proofs but are not published in editions.
EP (Exhibition Proofs): These are of equal quality to the edition but are created exclusively for exhibitions. This means that the amount of EPs is often limited, and the number printed (EP 1, EP 2, etc.) is typically in the single digits.
HC (“Hors Commerce” = “Not for Sale”): These are of equal quality to the edition and are numbered HC 1, etc. Usually given to collaborators, or as samples to show dealers and galleries.
PP (Printer’s Proof): These are of equal quality to the edition and are numbered PP 1, etc. The printer retains these to be used as a reference. Warhol paid his printer with these editions. The printer was then at his own discretion to keep the prints for himself or sell them.
TP (Trial Proofs): These are the initial prints, which are pulled during the processing of an edition and usually reveal color and/or compositional changes. Trial proofs are the most rare as each print is compositionally, one of a kind.