The Artist as Illustrator: Work by Warhol, Chagall, Picasso, & More


A set of illustrations by Andy Warhol depicting the story of the Little Red Hen will be put up for auction in New York on December 9th as part of a 365 item-strong sale by Bloomsbury Auctions. You may not recognize these drawings as Warhols, but we spy a sense of color and whimsy (and a super fabulous hen) that are solid markers of the man himself.

Check out images of Warhol’s work and some more of our favorite book illustrations from Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Charley Harper, and Saul Bass after the jump.

Warhol originally created these drawings between 1957 and 1959, quite early on in his career — that is, after his first exhibition but before his first silkscreen — for the Doubleday Book Club’s Best in Children’s Books series. But considering Warhol’s notoriety for being a fair-weather friend, we’re a little skeptical of his choice — The Little Red Hen? Where the moral is for everyone to help each other and share in the profits? Um, what about Edie?

PS: Other awesome artifacts up for grabs in the Bloomsbury sale include a series of correspondence between Roald Dahl and Alfred A. Knopf, a rare copy of Maurice Sendak’s first-ever picture book, and a poster drawn by Sendak in 1979, in which a Wild Thing leans against the Empire State Building, casually eating an apple as he reads Charlotte Brontë’s Villette. Sounds just like us on a Sunday afternoon.

And just for fun, here are some more of our favorite crazy-good artists’s book illustrations.

Chagall illustrated a number of books during his lifetime, including a 1956 edition of the Bible. This one is from Jean Paulhan’s De Mauvais Sujets, which is, according to Marninart, worth $23,000. Christmas present for Mom?

Charley Harper is known for the style he once described as ‘minimal realism’, using color and form to capture his subject but omitting as many details as possible. This illustration is from the 1961 Giant Golden Book of Biology. Can you guess all the organisms?

Pablo Picasso created more that 34,000 book illustrations in his lifetime, including etchings for Ovid’s The Metamorphoses, Balzac’s The Unknown Masterpiece, and L’Histoire Naturelle, a natural history book written in 1749 by Comte de Buffon, from which Picasso selected 31 animals and drew them according to his own imaginings. We just like this cow. She looks like a troublemaker.

This is — as far as we know — the only book illustrated by American graphic designer and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Saul Bass. Though he is most well known for his stunning movie posters (see: Vertigo, West Side Story, The Man with the Golden Arm), we quite like the looks of Henri’s Walk to Paris. See more pictures at Grain Edit.

Bonus: Check out A Journey Round My Skull’s collection of gorgeous Polish children’s books. They are super gorgeous.