Sharing a love for cats, Warhol and his mother made their humble house a home by populating it with feline friends. They first adopted Julia’s beloved Hester, who was joined by Sam…then another Sam…and another…until they had a clowder of 25 cats, almost all named Sam. Julia associated each Sam with a colour, affectionately referring to them as “Blue Sam” or “Red Sam”. Inspired by their beloved pets, the mother-son duo collaborated to self-publish Warhol’s most celebrated and delightful artist’s book, 25 Cats Name[d] Sam and One Blue Pussy.
Erroneously titled 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy by Julia, the whimsical book features her delicate calligraphy alongside Warhol’s quirky illustrations. Though there is no text, Warhol cited his dear friend Charles Lisanby, the famed set designer, as the author. The entire book was a group effort, as the artist invited his friends to help hand-colour the lithographs at “colouring parties” – a precursor to the cooperative method employed at his Factory. Contrary to the title, only eighteen cats are actually pictured, each frolicking or languishing like their namesakes in Warhol’s Lexington Avenue home.
Printed in 1954, the present book served as a “promotional”. Warhol gifted 25 Cats to friends and family, and sent copies to cultural influencers, such as Diana Vreeland, who found her edition “charming”. A fine example of his early work, it demonstrates both his skill as a draughtsman and his eccentric sense of humour, which can only be described as Warholian.
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