Printed in 1954, Cats Named Sam IV 53 is an offset lithograph by Andy Warhol that marks the beginning of Warhol’s career as a Pop artist. This print depicts a cat rendered in bold red sitting on its hind legs in the centre of the composition against a plain backdrop. Black gestural lines accentuate the cat's fur and whiskers bringing a layer of texture to the print. The cat’s bright green eyes stare curiously at the viewer, as if the cat knows it is being looked at. To the right of the cat, its name, Sam, is written in exquisite calligraphy.
Cats Named Sam IV 53 is part of the Cats Named Sam series, produced by Warhol in 1954 to accompany a children's book he wrote, 25 Cats Name (sic) Sam and One Blue Pussy. Despite the book’s title, Warhol only produced 16 lithographs, which have become some of the earliest works by Warhol on the market today. The inspiration for the book and this series of prints can be traced back to Warhol's experience living with his mother in an apartment on East 57th Street in Manhattan. Warhol's mother, Julia, had 25 cats, who were all, bar one, called Sam. This series has a more personal feel to it than Warhol’s other prints, such as the Brillo Box or Campbell’s Soup series which focus on consumer culture.
The print captures Warhol’s excellent draughtsmanship and love for colour. Featuring Warhol’s signature blotted line technique which he became familiar with when working as a freelance commercial and children’s book illustrator, Cats Named Sam IV 53 marks an important turning point in Warhol's career, as he was on the cusp of becoming an icon of 20th century art.