Review of Andy Warhol's Banana
By: David K. Montoya

With the changing of the guards, and this being my final Art review, I wanted it to be something fun. So, today we are going to take a semi in-depth look at Andy Warhol's famous Banana piece created for the cover of rock group, Velvet Underground.

It was released in March of 1967, the content on the album was record a year prior during the Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable Multimedia tour, that gave attention for its experimental performance sensibilities and controversial lyrical topics, including drug abuse, prostitution, sadomasochism and sexual deviancy.

Other than Velvet Underground's performance, the event held screenings of Warhol's artsy films, dancing, along with other performances by regular Andy Warhol's factory. Notably was Mary Woronov and Gerard Malanga.

For the banana itself, was the sole creation of Andy Warhol, and created the image and placed it on the cover of his pet band's first album. Interestingly enough, he worked as the manager, but was only able to sell a surprisingly low 30,000 albums in the first five years (that was largely viewed by many as a failure), especially since Andy Warhol's name was attached to it!

What is worth talking about was Warhol was the only one who received the producers credit to the album, who actually had nothing to do with producing the album other than paying for the band's recording sessions.

All of this is only mentioned because the irony of the fact that in the modern world, The Velvet Underground & Nico, is considered as one of the best and most authoritative albums in the history of popular music as we know it.

The first release of the cover allowed its listeners to pull back a banana's outer skin sticker, to find a skin colored banana beneath which closely resembled a male's phallus. This sexually charged graphic was found to be quite difficult for manufacturers to make happen—it was noted that the time alone for them to get alignment with the sticker and the image underneath was the main reason the album was delayed for public release). But, it was said to be a necessary element to the album, since it was Andy Warhol's reputation as an artist on the line.

Rumors swirled about the interpretation of the album cover and with songs about drug use found on the recorded, some believe that the banana was an ode to the old days when it was believed that if you smoked a banana skin would get you high. For the record, I do not believe this ideology, but rather a indirect was to approach the sexual image of not only the album and the lore of rock music, but the 1960s as well.

But, whether it was is intent or not, the cover remains on of Andy Warhol's most famous works of his lifetime. Rocker, Howie Pyro claimed that he unwittingly came upon the original banana in a junk shop during the mid 1980s while visiting the Lower East Side of New York City, only recently came to realize what it meant in punk and NYC history.

"There was one on Broadway that I had never seen before right down the street from Forbidden Planet and the greatest place ever, the mighty Strand Book Store. I went in and there was a lot of great stuff for me. I found some old records, a huge stash of outrageous and disgusting tabloid newspapers from the sixties which I kept buying there for a couple months afterward, and some cool old knick-knacks.

"I knocked into something on a crowded table full of junk and heard a big CLANG on the cement floor. I bent down to pick it up. It was one of those cheap triangular tin ashtrays that usually advertised car tires or something mundane. I picked it up (it was face down) and when I turned it over I was surprised to see…THE BANANA!!"

Whether you see Andy Warhol's Banana as a artsy album cover or a symbol of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, he remains as one of the foremost Artists in modern history.