cover image Andy Warhol: Pop Art Painter

Andy Warhol: Pop Art Painter

Susan Goldman Rubin, . . Abrams, $18.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-5477-9

Rubin (Margaret Bourke-White ) emphasizes child-friendly angles on Andy Warhol in this glancing biography. She focuses on Warhol's underappreciated art-school genius, his enthusiasm for drafting fashion spreads of shoes, his prolific Siamese cats and his pop culture fixations. Rubin frequently cites Warhol's Carnegie Tech classmate Leonard Kessler, a children's author and artist who thought Warhol might one day "teach, work with young children." She quotes affectionate childhood memories of Warhol nephew James Warhola, who created the more intimate picture book Uncle Andy's: A Faabbbulous Visit with Andy Warhol ; without elaboration, she takes up Interview editor Bob Colacello's remark that "children were drawn to Andy." Brief anecdotes treat Warhol's idiosyncrasies as youthful rather than disturbing: he lugs around an enormous teddy bear, compares the nonstop party of the Factory to "a children's TV program" and creates giant paintings of "his favorite cartoon characters: Dick Tracy, Superman and Popeye. 'They were the things I knew,' he said." Warhol's Pop experimentation is attributed to whimsy: "as a reaction to the Abstract Expressionists, [Warhol] created work with a greater sense of fun"; questioned as to why he painted Campbell's soup cans, Warhol remarked, "They're things I had when I was a child." The glossy pages—including a vague timeline—feature blocky layouts, iconic Warhol images, documentary photos and text printed on solid backgrounds of fuchsia, intense yellow, rich lavender and neon green. Like the artist's famous silkscreens (minus the irony), this squeaky-clean biography is all surface. Rubin offers safe, evasive commentary on a complicated person. Ages 8-12. (Nov.)