Warhol’s coveted un editioned prints (Uniques) position themselves somewhere between his canvases, collages, and drawings on the one side, and his numerous celebrated printed editions on the other. Not originally intended for public eyes, these works offer a rare glimpse into the artist’s practice and psyche.
These vivid experiments in color, composition, and subject hint at the inner workings of one of the most radically experimental artists in history; they’re less worked over, less fussed with, and offer a raw and electric experience of Warhol. This fresh view is arguably more difficult to tease out of his editions and other media aesthetically groomed for the public. Through fine tuned editing and a keen awareness of how the viewers of his time would respond to his own creative choices (skills developed in his early career in commercial art and advertising), Warhol strangely distanced himself from the works he is perhaps most well known for. The Unique, conversely, is a highly personal document of the unguarded aesthetic instincts that are the bedrock of Warhol’s practice.
The dynamic of the Unique is most evident in Warhol’s works on the human figure. Here, it is not difficult to project Warhol’s now notorious issues with self-image, body, sexuality, and celebrity onto the compositions. Endlessly fascinated by the way in which human geometry relates to iconic celebrity and his own awkward position relative to that universe, Warhol and his obsessions come through strongly in these works in a palpable and at times even conflicted way — a rare valued glimpse into the private mind of a very public artist.
Text by Seth Orion Schwaiger