Andy Warhol & The Velvet Underground

Most of us are well aware of Andy Warhol’s silkscreen prints of celebrities and consumer objects, but the icon of contemporary art work in other media too. Last week we introduced you to Andy Warhol’s movies. Did you know he also played in the music industry as well?

After Warhol established his studio The Factory in 1963, he had the opportunity to mix with lots of famous artists, musicians and celebrities who came to consider The Factory as one of their socialising hubs.

Two years later after The Factory was established, Warhol and the band, The Velvet Underground met at Cafe Bizarre in New York. The American rock, formed in 1964, had just performed and was fired by their music label immediately because the show was considered by the organizers, too outrageous and vulgar. Warhol, on the other hand, loved their performance. He liked the band so much that he turned The Factory into a place for them to rehearse and record. In doing so Warhol became both producer and manager of the band. He combined The Velvet Underground’s musical talent with his visual genius, giving the band a unique, modern and distinctive style.

Warhol designed the band’s very first album cover, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967). It was a simple banana in pop art style on a completely white background. The banana on the first production run of the cover was a sticker accompanied with the words: "Peel Slowly and See". Under the sticker was a psychedelic pink banana peeled—a clear sexual reference. Unfortunately, the cost of production was too high, so subsequent cover print runs featured the simple yellow banana picture only. 

Many more stories about Warhol and his world famous works are featured in the ANDY WARHOL: POP ART exhibition catalogue. 

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