The recreations of Andy Warhol’s work that started officially & amicably, but are now unauthorized copies of copies.
Andy Warhol worked in a variety of mediums throughout his career, but his most famous works are his silkscreen prints. His prints of Marilyn Monroe, Campbell’s Soup cans, Mao Zedong, Elvis and others changed pop culture and today sell for millions of dollars. While he produced some of these works himself he eventually created The Factory, his aptly titled Manhattan studio where an assortment of interesting characters would produce his prints for him. Like a Pop art orchestra Warhol served as the conductor, directing his assistants as they played their parts in making his art.
The 1967 collection of prints made by the Factory are referred to as the “Factory Additions” and are authentic Warhols. Authenticity begins to get murkier in 1970 when Warhol started a collaboration with two anonymous Belgian artists. Andy Warhol’s use of repetition in his art was part of a larger criticism & statement about consumerism, pop culture celebrity, and disposable mass produced goods. He took this to a new level when he gave the negatives & the color codes for several of his most famous prints to these new Belgian partners so they could start printing his work. These prints would be new editions of the work his Factory had already done for him. These secondary prints became known as the Sunday B. Morning prints.
A copy of a copy?
What started as an amicable collaboration ended with Warhol regretting the decision and the 1970 prints were labeled “unauthorized”. The Sunday B. Morning duo produced 250 prints of several Warhol works which, while not exactly by Warhol, were produced from his own negatives to his specifications so they became valuable pieces in the art market. Warhol’s lack of direct involvement broadly categorizes this work into what is referred to as “After Warhol.” Despite his disapproval, when Warhol would encounter one of these prints he would sometimes sign the back with “This is not by me. Andy Warhol” which only added to the value.
To add to the confusion another series of prints were created by Sunday B. Morning in 1985. Then, after Warhol died in 1987, a company (rather than the original duo) calling themselves Sunday B. Morning have been continuously producing prints. After the original 1970 series the silkscreens used to make the prints were locked away and the current Sunday B. Morning prints are copies of the 1970 prints … which were, in a way, copies of the original Factory Addition prints.
Black or Blue: Which one am I looking at?
Discerning an original Warhol Factory Addition print, from a 1970 Sunday B. Morning, from a later day Sunday B. Morning, from a forgery can be difficult. An original Warhol is almost guaranteed to be in a museum or the home of a wealthy collector so it’s unlikely you’ll find one on eBay. His original prints were frequently signed by him in various ways on the back (interestingly, his earlier 1950s work was also signed with his name, but was sometimes written by his mom Julia Warhola).
Following the original Factory series, the second series of this work (the initial series by Sunday B. Morning in 1970) have a black ink stamp on the back that says “published by Sunday B. Morning”. These prints have a second black ink stamp that says “fill in your own signature”, which is where Warhol would sometimes semi-ironically sign that the print was not by him.
The third series from 1985 have a rubber stamp signature of Andy Warhol’s name on the back, which became known as the European Artist’s Proof Editions. Finally the modern day prints are stamped on the back with “fill in your own signature” and “published by Sunday B. Morning” but in blue ink, and are referred to as the Blue Ink series.
Assigning monetary value to any of these depends on a lot of factors, but basically the original 1967 Warhol Factory Addition prints are the most valuable (into the hundreds of thousands of dollars) and the later day Sunday B. Morning Blue Ink prints are the least valuable (worth a few hundred dollars). Of the Sunday B. Morning prints, the 1970 series is the most respected and the most highly valued.