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Andy Warhol loved cats, reputedly keeping as many as twenty-five in the Lexington Avenue apartment he shared with his mother. The book comprises sixteen lithographs of cats, each named Sam, and a seventeenth simply captioned ‘One Blue Pussy’. Warhol’s affectionate studies are full of whimsy, depicting cats in various postures of play and repose. It is not entirely clear, however, if we are looking at sixteen different cats, or sixteen drawings of one cat.
25 Cats Named Sam and One Blue Pussy was made during the 1950s when Warhol was still working as a commercial illustrator and self-published books and portfolios, which he then sent to prospective clients as samples of his work. The book is lithographically printed, a method which relies on the natural antipathy of grease and water. Each plate was then vibrantly hand-coloured with bright watercolours by friends at ‘colouring parties’ hosted by the artist. Warhol continued this practice of using friends in the realisation of a work in the 1960’s at the ‘The Factory’, Warhol’s New York studio from1962 to 1968.
The Man Behind The Art
25 Cats and One Blue Pussy is an interesting pre-cursor to his output as a Pop artist. In many ways the works from this period, with their more personal subject matter, reveal more about him than the detached persona associated with his pop years. In the early 1960’s Warhol produced his first canvases featuring Batman, Dick Tracy and Coca-Cola, signalling the change to media derived images. His working methods, however, largely remained the same, with the use of printmaking methods to make his art and the involvement of friends and assistants in the production of the works.