Andy Warhol Museum Acquires Early Paint-by-Number Work

Warhol's take on a paint by numbers.

Andy Warhol, Do It Yourself (Sailboat) (1962). Image courtesy of the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh has announced the acquisition of a major new addition: Do It Yourself (Sailboat) from Warhol’s “Do It Yourself” series. First exhibited at the Stable Gallery in 1962, the painting represents a key moment in Warhol’s career, a reaction against the then-reigning style of Abstract Expressionism and a presentation of painting in the context of mass media, anticipating the Pop style that would make him a superstar.

Do It Yourself (Sailboat) is one of a five-part series made in 1962, around the same time Warhol painted 32 Campbell’s soup cans, and about two years before he moved into his first “Factory.” When he created the series, the artist was moving out of drawing and hand-painting, and just beginning to experiment with silkscreens and stencils. Based on the mass-produced model of instructional paint-by-numbers kits, the series also features a violin, land- and seascapes, and flowers. (The other works are located in European institutions, save for one in a private collection.)

Andy Warhol, <i>Do It Yourself (Seascape)</i> (1962). © Andy Warhol.

Andy Warhol, Do It Yourself (Seascape) (1962). © Andy Warhol.

In a review of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s 2002 “Warhol: A Retrospective,” Irit Krygier wrote for artnet Magazine that the Do It Yourself series is “a revelation, and show Warhol’s development into a fully formed Pop artist.” The museum’s new acquisition is a sparse composition, with a deep blue sky and purple-accented clouds outlining the rest of the mostly-blank page, dotted with numbers signifying spaces left unpainted.

For an artist who worked so often in large series, this small run is understandably desirable. The painting was acquired via a trade of various de-accessioned works with dealer Larry Gagosian, who, according to the New York Times, approached the museum, knowing that it had long sought one of the DIY paintings.

Andy Warhol, <em>Do It Yourself (Flowers)</em> (1962). © Andy Warhol.

Andy Warhol, Do It Yourself (Flowers) (1962). © Andy Warhol.

Paint by numbers, a phenomenon noticed by Warhol early on in its grip on the public, has today been usurped by the popular, and controversial, trend of stress-relieving adult coloring books.

Do It Yourself (Sailboat) will be on view at the Andy Warhol Museum beginning June 28, 2016.

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