Uncle Andy’s by James Warhola is just the kind of quirky gem we delight in unearthing. It’s written and illustrated by Andy Warhol’s nephew James, who recounts a family pilgrimage to New York City to visit his eccentric relative. The year was 1962, Warhol’s Soup Can paintings were causing a commotion and he was well on the way to becoming one of the most controversial artists of all time. In this warm, anecdotal recollection, Warhol’s home is just as ‘faabbbulous’ as he is. Come inside and meet his 25 cats (yes really).
A few times a year, the Warhola family (Andy dropped the ‘a’) would load up their car and drive cross-country to New York. Chock full of detail, the wonderful illustrations portray the family’s lengthy journey from Pennsylvania to 1960’s Manhattan bustle and the gleeful anticipation of ringing Uncle Andy’s doorbell.
‘Dad always thought it was best not to phone ahead so that it would be a surprise.’
As the family consisted of six kids and two adults, I’d imagine the ‘surprise’ presented something of a hosting challenge. But Andy and Bubba, the kids’ grandmother, welcome them with makeshift beds and a meal of salamis, breads and cheese. Andy’s house is an art lesson in itself, and eagle-eyed readers will spot his famous artwork throughout the house, repurposed Coca-Cola, Elvis, and Marilyn images, as well as his bevy of felines.
‘At night Uncle Andy went out to parties to see other famous people.’
Desperate to hear his celebrity stories, the kids barge into his bedroom, to discover him, shockingly, sans wig! The archetypal cool uncle, Warhol lets them play with his wigs, help out in his studio, and fly around the house ‘like a band of wild monkeys.’ A delicious peek into the annals of a famous family history, Uncle Andy’s is a fun introduction to an iconic artist.
Uncle Andy’s by James Warhola is published by Puffin Books, 32 pages.