Andy Warhol - Angel with Tiny Wings (Rearview)

Andy Warhol has long been recognized as an icon in the pop art world. His talent is also reflected in his photography, filmmaking, and publishing.   In addition to his iconic images, Warhol has become renowned for his ability to streamline production of his works; some recognize him for his emphasis on glamor and fame; still others identify him as a poster child for the gay movement in the early 1980s.  Many of his drawings from the 1950s are juxtaposed with this background, providing glimpses into Warhol's devotion to his religious upbringing and beliefs. 

Church, faith, and religious practices were a constant in Warhol’s life from early years—his family was devoutly Catholic.  It is said that, even in his adult years, Warhol faithfully attended mass; in New York, he visited his local church several times a week until his death. These influences also carried over into Warhol’s works—he was inspired to create more than twenty large paintings based on Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. A trip to the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh will often reveal a section devoted exclusively to Warhol's works which revolve around his religion.

Perhaps more recognizable are his angels—the winged cherubs which permeate his work. From his original drawings to his self-published book (“In the Bottom of My Garden”), angels and cherubs may be found dotted throughout his life's oeuvre.

Schleif,  Reading Andy Warhol  at page 111

Schleif, Reading Andy Warhol at page 111

The book's title, In the Bottom of My Garden, came from the song "There are Fairies at the Bottom of Our Garden" by Rose Flyeman and Liza Lahman, made popular by Beatrice Lillie (1920). Warhol's inspiration for the cherubs and fairies in this book (and Warhol's similar imaginary from the time) can be found in Les FLeurs Animées (1947) by JJ Granville (1803-1847) and the fantastical flowers and fairies created by English illustrator Cecily Mary Barker (1895-1973). According to Charles Lisanby, Warhol's close friend who accompanied him on his first trip abroad in 1956, Warhol was enthralled with a number of books he encountered in Amsterdam, the last stop on that trip.

In particular to the illustration in The Bottom of My Garden, "Warhol adapted some putti from Jack Stella. To those inspiration one can add the famous Dance of Cupids (After Raphael) (1517-1520) by Marcantonio Raimondi, from which Warhol borrowed the round dance of the putti [figs on pg. 108]." (Schleif, 109)

Warhol first debuted the book at Serendipity 3.

Schleif, Nina. "Clever Frivolity in Excelsis, Warhol's Promotional Books." Reading Andy Warhol, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2013, pp. 78-133