Andy Warhol



In the mid-1970s Andy Warhol was arguably in a creative lull. He had produced countless portrait paintings of celebrities, politicians, and high society characters. Many of these works were lucrative commissions (rather coming from artistic inspiration).

Warhol was sponsored by his Italian dealer for a new body of work. Subverting his typical clientele, Warhol sent his sidekick/studio manager Bob Colacello to the roughest, seediest part of NYC to recruit some fresh subjects. Colacello procured Drag Queens from a bar called "The Gilded Grape" at the corner of 8th Avenue and 45th Street. The queens were paid $50 each to have Warhol take Polaroid portraits of them.

In total Warhol shot 14 Queens producing around 500 photographs. He worked with a number of the models to select the sitter's best image. Using a similar technique to his celebrity portraits, Warhol used the Polaroid as a basis for the subsequent silkscreen paintings, followed by a series of prints featuring his favorite images later that year.

Until 2014 these glamorous subjects were mostly anonymous. Research sponsored by the artist's estate was able to identify and create biographies for 13 out of 14 of the sitters. This was timely and important as Queer Studies began to have an increasing involvement with art history, and many valid questions were raised about how these models were treated and compensated. 

In 2020 the Tate (London) presented a major retrospective on Andy Warhol. His "Ladies and Gentlemen" paintings were placed prominently in the exhibition and the Tate promoted the research and results of the Drag Queen's featured. Click here to learn more about this series on the Tate's website.

Until recently "Ladies & Gentlemen" had been undervalued in the Warhol market as the models were not beloved household names like Debbie Harry, Karen Kain or Dolly Parton.  Perhaps because of an ongoing fascination with New York in the late 1970s and a new mainstream interest/respect in Drag, "Ladies & Gentlemen" has become highly desirable in the marketplace. Furthermore, they demonstrate the importance of Black/Latinx queer culture of the era and its influence on Andy Warhol. 

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Untitled (for "Ladies & Gentlemen")

USA, 1975

Unique screenprint on Arches paper

Stamped by the Estate of Andy Warhol

29.75"H 22"W (work)

32.5"H 24.75"W (framed)

Very good condition

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