Happy Butterfly Day
Offset lithograph on paper
14 x 10 in.; 35.6 x 25.4 cm.
Gift of Charles Lisanby
This lithograph is an example of the types of promotional prints that Andy Warhol was producing at the beginning of his career. Wanting to create an impression of himself as both playful and serious, Warhol would draw patterns of simple motifs—flowers, bugs, or butterflies, for example—and then gift colored copies to friends and prospective employers around the city. Sometimes, he would even transform the images into postcards, greeting cards, or miniature books before distributing them.
To create these butterfly designs, Andy would carve out the individual motifs in gum erasers and stamp them randomly on paper, before finally transforming the image into a print. In order to produce the amount of colored prints he wanted quickly and efficiently, Andy soon began holding coloring parties at his friend, Stephen Bruce’s, trendy café Serendipity 3. Gathering whatever friends and celebrities he could, Warhol would arrange them around the table in an assembly line, assigning each one a specific hue of Dr. Martin’s dye. The prints would then circulate around the table and each guest would add their own colored dye wherever they saw fit. In this sense, the coloring parties foreshadow Warhol’s later emphasis on collaboration and mass production while in the Factory.