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ANDY WARHOL Imaginary Friends

The National Arts Club hosted a premiere exhibition of 49 original drawings by Andy Warhol. This rare collection, created from 1955 to 1967 and curated by James Cavello, represents Warhol's unique, free-form expressions inspired by dance, performance, and esoteric influences. Warhol had a lifelong fascination with the performing arts and frequently attended the theatre, ballet, concerts and countercultural events throughout his lifetime in New York City. His dedication toward dance was evident being the only male student enrolled in a modern dance class in the late 1940's when he attended Carnegie Institute of Technology.

When Warhol arrived in New York City in 1949 at the age of 21, it was the golden era of magazines, advertising, and the post war ideal of consumerism. He made a living from commercial art while yearning to be in the circle of fine art artists in New York. Soon, Warhol developed into a sought-after commercial artist drawing illustrations for shoes, ads, flowers and happy images that represented the carefree new consumer. However, by the late 1950's Warhol wanted to break free from the confines of commercial art and focus on experimentation with various art media.

While he was a commercial artist Warhol came to know many editors and art directors of well-known magazines in New York. He constantly positioned himself to meet people who were of interest to him in his career or social life. He met Lydia Joel at a dance concert in the early 50's; she was Editor-in-Chief of Dance magazine from 1952-69. The character Debbie Allen portrayed in the movie Fame was modeled after Lydia Joel in her role as head of the dance department for School of Performing Arts from 1973-84. Over 12 years Warhol called upon Joel to converse on editorials, articles, and discussions about contemporary dance and performance. At each meeting Warhol gifted Joel a drawing as a token of appreciation for her commitment to the arts. Joel published several of the drawings in Dance magazine and thanked Warhol for his generosity, admiring his own devotion and love for the performing arts. Lydia Joel died in 1992 and eventually a private collector acquired the collection of drawings.