Porgy and Bess: proof it’s a Warhol

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Three albums in the RCA Victor Bluebird Classics series have been a topic of discussion among Warhol cover collectors for a long time. Especially the illustration of a village scene and playing children on Porgy And Bess had its doubters and non-believers. The discussion can now come to an end, as solid proof has been discovered at The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. In one of Warhol’s time capsules, TC 28, project cataloguer Brianna Treleven found purchase orders to Warhol for artwork for all three covers, and the bill for two of them, including Porgy and Bess.
Also dating the albums can now be more accurate: they were generally considered to be from around 1957, but the orders were placed in April and May 1953. The fee Warhol received per drawing was $50.

These are the three albums, with purchase orders:

LBC 1045 – George Gershwin Rhapsody In Blue & Ferde Grofé ‎Grand Canyon Suite (Excerpts) – Hugo Winterhalter And His Orchestra, Byron Janis (piano)

Purchase order 1536 on April 8th, 1953, to artist or vendor Andy Warhol: “F.A. man at Piano for – Hugo Winterhalter Bluebird Classics record album – Gershwin Rhapsodie in Blue – Grofé”
(F.A. probably means front art(work))

AW bluebird invoice 3

Photo Guy Minnebach

2012.11.11 350

LBC 1059 – George Gershwin, Edvard Grieg ‎– Porgy And Bess / Symphonic Dances on Norwegian Themes – Fabien Sevitzky, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Purchase order 1647 on May 25th, 1953: “F.A. for Gershwin + Grieg album. RCA”

AW bluebird invoice 1

Photo Guy Minnebach

2012.11.11 351

LBC 1061 – Erica Morini (violin), Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, Désiré Defauw, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Purchase order 1648 on May 25th, 1953 (year mistakenly written ’25’): “F.A. for Tchaikowsky Violin Concerto. RCA”

AW bluebird invoice 2

Photo Guy Minnebach

2012.11.11 352

The Warhol Museum archivist Matt Wrbican was the first to acknowledge the Rhapsody In Blue & ‎Grand Canyon Suite cover as being a Warhol drawing. He added it to the Warhol Live exhibition in 2009, at The Warhol. In later years the two other albums, Erica Morini and Porgy & Bess, were discovered. In the second edition of the catalogue raisonné of Warhol record covers, Paul Maréchal included Rhapsody In Blue and Erica Morini, not Porgy and Bess. In 2014 at the Warhol On Vinyl show at the Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, collector Frank Edwards and curator Laura Mott were the first to exhibit all three Bluebird Classics albums together.

A big thank you to The Warhol archivists Erin Byrne and Matt Wrbican for sharing this information, during my visit to The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh in July.

aw bluebird invoice 2 records

Bill for the Erica Morini album (Tchaikovsky) and Porgy & Bess (Gershwin and Grieg).

7 thoughts on “Porgy and Bess: proof it’s a Warhol”

  1. Thank you Guy for exploring this previously unsettled mystery. When Laura Mott and I talked about whether to include the Porgy & Bess in the Warhol on Vinyl show, it really came down to a leap of faith based on study and a complete lack of believability that RCA would hire Warhol to do two cover illustrations in a short period of time, and then hire a different illustrator to copy Warhol’s style for a third cover. I couldn’t be more happy to find out evidence that we were correct.
    Cheers,
    Frank Edwards

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Kevin kinney says:

    Nice find. Always a plus when a good eye and a hunch gets backed with indisputable evidence. There is a boxed set for the Gershwin that is identical except for a “45” in the Grofé section. Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

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