If you try asking someone in the street if he knows Andy Warhol, most likely he’ll answer something like: “Of course I know him! The weird artist with white hair who made those images all alike and coloured of Marilyn Monroe”. Right, can you blame him? Screenprints are the most famous artworks of this American artist. Repetition, bright colours, famous people and daily objects became the Pop art symbol and the emblem of the age of consumerism.
However our Andy is not just this: if you don’t know he was also a painter, sculptor, film director, filmmaker, photography director, actor, screenwriter and editor (it just so happens that the sequence I wrote his professions it’s the same used by Wikipedia).
In the mid-1960s The Velvet Underground, a band unknown until then, is invited to play at The Factory, the rendezvous point in New York City for artists – and also Warhol studio. He really liked The Velvet: he decided to become their producer, finance their first disc and he also offer to draw the album cover. What else do you want, Velvet? This album soon became famous as The banana album. It’s not hard to guess what Warhol has represented: a yellow banana on a white background. But this isn’t over. At the top right a writing gave you advice suggestion: “Peel slowly and see”. Taking off the peel sticker, there was a pink banana. The illusion to something else was not so cloud.
On the cover, near the banana, they decided to put only one name: have they chosen the disc name or the band one? Which was the most important name for their first album?
The name of Andy Warhol. The band wasn’t yet famous, while Warhol was already well-known.
In the following album edition there is no more the sticker game, but only a yellow banana. Not for censorship, but just for economic reasons: it seems that peeling a banana is very expensive.
In 2012 The Velvet Underground sued Andy Warhol Foundation because they sold the banana to the apple. The foundation cedes the image rights to Apple for create new tablet and mobile covers. But the brand wasn’t registered from Warhol or from Velvet, so it couldn’t be sold. Furthermore, the banana image was most likely taken from a spot, as others Warhol artworks. An agreement between fruits has eventually solved the copyright problems.
Featured Image: Andy Warhol, photography by Robert Mapplethorpe
Copyright: Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation