Pop Art in a Pen

Sam Kessler (Online Editor)
As Andy Warhol once said, 'art is anything.' That includes a stunning fountain pen...

Whether you abhor the commercialisation of art or are an avid advocate of the sheer creativity artistic accessibility has released, Andy Warhol’s is an inescapable legacy. Breaking down walls between the general public and the seemingly elitist art scene, he reinvigorated the field with soup cans and dictators.

Even outside of his work he was certainly a character, with big blonde hair and unrelieved black worthy of any arthouse punk frontman. He seemed to court controversy as a forerunner to the likes of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, though fortunately sticking mainly to paint.

Warhol’s a personality that’s been captured in books, films, other artworks… yet Montblanc are probably the only pen maker to take on the father of Pop Art. Not that there’s no precedent; the Swiss pen, watch and leather maker’s Great Characters collection has commemorated Johann Strauss and John F Kennedy among others.

As ever the pens themselves are like a brief summary of Warhol’s career, condensed into a number of key points. Firstly, the colour reflects the iconic Campbell’s Soup Cans from 1965, the contrast between the precious blue resin and orange rings referencing the same colour palette.

The cans make a second appearance in a more overt albeit monochromatic way. The pen’s cap has been elongated to halfway down the barrel so that a pair of the cans can be finely engraved one atop the other into it. More subtly, the clip’s unique design is evocative of the squeegee Warhol used in lieu of a paintbrush in his famous silk screen paintings.

Considering the subject matter, it’s fitting that the cap also bears one of the artist’s most famous quotes: ‘art is anything’ along with an engraving of Warhol’s signature.

Look closely at the nib and you’ll see another reference to one of Warhol’s most iconic works, with the dollar sign engraved into the handcrafted, rhodium-coated gold nib of the fountain pen, something unfortunately lost on the ballpoint and rollerball versions. Other than that the nib itself is testament to Montblanc’s expertise in the craft, something you’ll appreciate as it glides across the paper.

This may well be the single most subtle object that’s ever borne Warhol’s name but that’s no bad thing. He may have been known for dalliances on the more colourful, eclectic end of the spectrum, but could you imaging a pen covered in pink and yellow visages of Marilyn Monroe? Or Chairman Mao? That would probably send the wrong signals.

As it is, the Great Characters edition is both a tribute to one of the world’s most influential artists and, most importantly, a beautiful and exquisite writing instrument in its own right.

Montblanc Great Characters Andy Warhol Fountain Pen, £690

Montblanc Great Characters Andy Warhol Fountain Pen

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