In 1983, with a couple of kids of his own running around, Andy Warhol's longtime Swiss dealer Bruno Bischofberger asked him to create a show of small paintings for children. The show, "Paintings for Children," featured The Toy Series silkscreened paintings of images taken from toy packages and ads Warhol had collected over the years. There was a boardbook, which I bought in 2004.
At the time, I thought there were 12 paintings in the series, but Christopher Turner, writing in both Tate Magazine and the exhibition cataloge for the Museo Picasso Malaga's exhibition, "Toys of the Avant-Garde," says there were actually 128. At this point, though, I'm getting pretty used to the fact that no matter what I thought I knew about Andy, it turns out I don't know jack. Here's Bruno:
Warhol designed wallpaper of silver fish swimming on a blue background which made the gallery look like an aquarium, and the paintings were hung at eye level for three- to five-year-old children. Adults had to squat to examine the paintings closely, the opposite of me having to lift up my little children when looking at paintings in museums. We even went so far as to charge an entry fee for adults not accompanied by children under six, the proceeds being donated to a Swiss children's charity.And there are Bruno's kids, Magnus and Cora, demonstrating the toddler-friendly installation. Sections of Fish wallpaper are around, but I don't see that you can get readily a whole installation of it. If you did, it'd look like this, from a 2008 Warhol show in Oslo.
update Who knew it'd be Warhol Fish season out there? It turns out an edition of unknown size was created from the 1983 wallpaper, 3 fish per sheet. One sheet just sold last week for $8,125 at Christie's. It's a helluva way to buy wallpaper, one 30x42-in. sheet at a time, but another's coming up at Phillips de Pury on Nov. 21. And right before it is a unique 3-color version, for twice as much: est. $12-18k. This sounds like an expensive and time-intensive prospect. And one that wil leave you with many mismatched frames. Good luck.
"Through the eyes of a child," by Christopher Turner, Tate, Etc. Summer 2010 [tate.org.uk]
image: bruno bischofberger via tate