ASU Receives Six Rare Andy Warhol Prints

June 02, 2014

(Photo by Steve Shadley - KJZZ)
ASU Print Collection Manager Jean Makin standing next to Warhol's unfinished portrait of Sitting Bull.
(Photo by Steve Shadley - KJZZ)
Andy Warhol's unfinished screenprint of the Cologne Cathedral in Germany on display at the ASU art gallery in Tempe.
(Photo by Steve Shadley - KJZZ)
Andy Warhol's unfinished screenprint of author Hans Christian Andersen displayed at ASU's art gallery.
Andy Warhol, Reigning Queens (Queen Beatrix), 1985. Screenprint on Lenox museum board, 39 3/8 x 31 1/2 in. Gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Image courtesy of the ASU Art Museum.
Andy Warhol, Reigning Queens (Queen Margrethe), 1985. Screenprint on Lenox museum board, 39 1/4 x 39 1/2 in. Gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Image courtesy of the ASU Art Museum.

A collection of rare art works by Andy Warhol has been donated to Arizona State University. The pop superstar never intended for the prints to be shared with the public.

The Warhol Foundation in New York City donated six screen prints to ASU. Jean Makin is a curator at the university’s art gallery in Tempe. She said the foundation called one day and said it was sending a gift, but nobody knew what kind of Warhol treasures were in the mail.

“So once this big box arrived with the prints inside it was like Christmas. You get to open it up and surprised by what you’ve received,” Makin said.

What Makin found inside the box was a group of four portraits and two other abstract prints Warhol had created shortly before his death in 1987. The prints were never published, they were works in progress.

"They are considered authentic and as valuable as the regular edition," Makin said.

 She said the foundation didn’t want to sell Warhol’s unfinished works, it preferred they be donated to ASU so people could enjoy them.

“He does make really fun, interesting work,” Makin said.    

The prints ASU received include a wildly colorful portrait of Hans Christian Andersen.  It features the 19th century Danish author dressed in a dark suit and tie. Warhol has splashed an old black and white photograph of Andersen with pink paint and squiggly blue and yellow lines. At the bottom of the print you can see Warhol’s notes to the printer, handwritten in pencil.

 “It says light pink and it says black half-inch and white wash…it says orange, red and I think it says bold lines…so it’s giving instructions on what he wanted, and maybe what he wanted to change,” Makin said.

The next Warhol print features a stunning bright orange image of the Cologne cathedral in Germany.

 "The view is at a very strange angle…as if you were on the ground looking straight up at the top of the building," Mackin said. There is almost a sense of movement in the piece.

"I think there is a lot of visual activity going on and there is some popping of  the colors, combination of the colors, it makes you feel dizzy,” Makin said.

Lucille Oglesby of Scottsdale said she’s feeling a little off-balance looking at the art work. She has come to ASU to check out the new exhibit while on her lunch hour because she loves Andy Warhol.

“When I go to museums and he’s got an exhibit there I make sure that I see it because he’s so interesting. I’ve seen his work in New York and Nashville. It’s stunning when you walk in the presentation is beautiful,” Oglesby said.

ASU also received Warhol portraits of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Lakota warrior Sitting Bull. Versions of these designs did go on to get published.  

Makin said the prints will be added to more than 250 photographs the Warhol Foundation donated to ASU in 2008.

“It’s a real boon for most institutions to receive Warhol prints. Most institutions don’t have the budget to purchase this number of prints so, it’s pretty wonderful,” Makin said.

An exhibit featuring the six previously unpublished Warhol prints runs at the ASU art gallery through mid-September.  

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been modified to reflect Hans Christian Andersen was Danish.

Updated 6/3/2014 at 11:09 a.m.