Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Unlimited edition

The marketing department of the Queensland Art Gallery must be grinning from ear to ear. In Australia the publicity around the Warhol show has been huge and, a few days after the opening, half a page of photos and commentary by Tom Cardy in the Dominion Post. Cardy was flown over to catch the show by Tourism Queensland and they’ll be pleased with the result. They also scored with Andrew Paul Wood in the Christchurch Press. (You can read his report on the Warhol experience on John Hurrell's blog eyeCONTACT here). One odd initiative associated with the show has been the offer of a Warhol print by Queensland’s Courier-Mail and the Queensland Art Gallery to a lucky punter. Art being the prize isn't the issue, it's just that this particular Warhol print seems to be a giant leap for the authenticity fanatics at the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Anyone following the Warhol market will know that the Foundation is savage in its protection of Warhol’s authorship and the authenticity of his prints. So to see a Marilyn print offered as “one of ten printed from the original screens and matrixes” is jaw dropping. Warhol used the commercial printer Aetna Silkscreen Products Inc. to produce the original 10 prints of the screened portfolio of which the give-away version is one. They were published in 1967 by Warhol under the name Factory Additions in a closed edition, in this case 250 signed in pencil and numbered with a rubber stamp. Usually, after a numbered run, the screens are destroyed but in this case they can’t have been. Hence the possibility of a posthumous run-on. The ‘prize’ version is of course unsigned and, if this it indicates a loosening of the trousers by the Foundation, many owners of disputed works will be delighted. While this is all certainly in the spirit of Andy Warhol, fancy it now being part of the that’s-one-that’s-not-one approach of the Warhol Foundation.