In 2009, Gregory McCoy, a noted New Jersey Andy Warhol Collector discovered while searching online, four remarkable and unknown silk screen prints of Marilyn Monroe, what struck McCoy immediately was the remarkable resemblance to Andy Warhol’s iconic 1962 silkscreen portrait of the actor. After investigating the origins of the Marilyns, he purchased four proof copies from a Swedish art dealer. Through his painstaking research, McCoy has discovered that the screen prints were, most likely, made in Sweden in 1968 at the time of Warhol’s first international exhibition at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Excited by his discovery, McCoy has spent the past twelve years acquiring over three hundred multicolored Marilyns. Not used in the Stockholm exhibition, it appears that the screen prints went underground and were gifted to a circle of Swedes who were associated with Pontus Hultén, the controversial Director of the Moderna Museet.
In 2016, McCoy was introduced to Penn Libraries Director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library; after examining a sample of the Marilyn silkscreens, McCoy and Penn Libraries formed a partnership to exhibit a selection of the Marilyns. Why Penn? It seemed obvious. Penn had played a significant role in launching Warhol’s career when the recently founded Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) mounted Warhol’s first institutional retrospective of his work in 1965. The ICA exhibit is legendary. Given Penn’s role in Warhol’s Pop Art career, Penn seemed to McCoy to be the obvious venue to unveil his important discovery to the art world.
To date the question of Andy Warhol’s role in the production of this collection of Marilyn’s remains unanswered, which is part of the intellectual challenge of defining these art objects within the context of Pontus Hultén curatorial vision and Andy Warhol’s ethos and aesthetic. The catalogue includes an interview with the collector, essays by noted Warhol scholars: Reva Wolf and Kenneth Goldsmith; an essay on the 1965 ICA exhibition by Art Librarian Hannah Bennett; and an essay on the iconography of Marilyn Monroe by David McKnight, editor and curator of the show. The volume concludes with a Catalogue Raisonné of the McCoy Marilyns collection, prepared by Maureen McCormick, former Chief Registrar at the Princeton University Art Gallery. There will be 1,968 catalogues printed, commemorating the year in which the prints were made.
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