Printed in 1954, Cats Named Sam IV 57 is an offset lithograph by Andy Warhol that differs in subject from his portraits of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Jackie Kennedy. Privileging felines over celebrities, this print depicts a side profile portrait of a cat rendered in a pale pink against a light yellow background. Black, gestural lines delineate the cat’s portrait against the background and emphasise the texture of its fur. The cat appears to be smiling, almost as if it is posing for Warhol, like one of his celebrities would do. While the cat is facing the right of the composition, its piercing yellow eyes stares back, disarmingly, at the viewer of the print.
Cats Named Sam IV 57 is one of 16 lithograph prints, all of cats, that form the Cats Named Sam series, produced by Warhol in 1954 while the artist was still primarily working as a freelance commercial and children’s book illustrator. Warhol produced the prints to accompany a children's book he wrote, titled 25 Cats Name (sic) Sam and One Blue Pussy. The book was inspired by Warhol's mother, who was living with him at the time in his new York apartment, along with her 25 cats (all of whom except one were called Sam).
This print features Warhol's signature blotted line technique, which he combined with watercolour dyes in this series to bring the cats to life and make each print unique in its colour composition.