Andy Warhol’s portraits of trans women and drag queens to go on display for the first time at London’s Tate Modern in 2020.
The Tate Modern in London has announced it will host a major relatively unknown set of work by American artist Andy Warhol which will run from next March to September.
According to the Tate, the upcoming exhibition aims to explore how: “A shy, gay man from a religious, migrant, low-income household … forged his own distinct path to emerge as the epitome of the pop art movement.”
The exhibition will focus on Warhol’s mid 70’s period, showcasing 25 works from Warhol’s Ladies and Gentlemen series. Interviewed by the Guardian, co- curator of the exhibition Fiontán Moran said:
“It is one of Warhol’s biggest series of works but probably the least known.”
Tate director of Collection, Gregor Muir, who curated the show alongside Moran, said: “I had heard there might be these paintings in existence and I met the people who own them now and I went to visit them and it was quite the most remarkable thing”.
This offers a rare opportunity for the general public to see and learn more about the artist’s remarkable career and ongoing cultural influence.
Andy Warhol’s Ladies and Gentlemen as an underrated series within a period of cultural and gender transgression
“An artist who feels more relevant and influential today than ever. He is one of the most recognisable names in the late 20th century but in today’s climate, it feels important to take a more human and more personal look at somebody who is a very familiar artist.”
said Tate Modern director Frances Morris.
Warhol’s sexuality influenced much of his work, particularly his movie-making which often took place at his iconic The Factory which featured his Exploding Plastic Inevitable (a series of multimedia compositions of live music, film making and art which featured celebrities, The Velvet Underground and his Warhol Superstars).
The 1970’s represented the height of Studio 54 against the backdrop of a moving liberalising United States. During this time, the homosexual and drag community began embracing their sexuality. Warhol was commissioned by art dealer Luciano Anselmino to create a series of screen prints and Polaroids detailing drag queens.
Under Warhol’s direction, the subjects for the series were several low key, anonymous African American and Hispanic drag queens that were recruited from The Gilded Grape, a queer bar in Greenwich village, New York. The result, Ladies and Gentlemen, was first exhibited in Italy at the Palazzo di Diamente.
On the creative process behind Ladies and Gentlemen, Warhol characterised each portrait to maintain their gender ambiguity. Each portrait shows the subject posing from being flirtatious to being complacent. The stylistic colours and tones show a similar presentation to Warhol’s other known celebrity screen prints e.g. the portraits of Mick Jagger.
Focusing on gender role play and transgression, Warhol said in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again):
“I wonder whether it’s harder for 1) a man to be a man, 2) a man to be a woman, 3) a woman to be a woman, or 4) a woman to be a man. I don’t really know the answer, but from watching all the different types, I know that people who think they’re working the hardest are the men who are trying to be a woman. They do double-time. They do all the things: they think about shaving and not shaving, of primping and not primping, of buying men’s clothes and women’s clothes. I guess it’s interesting to try to be another sex.”
The Ladies and Gentlemen series is a must see opportunity for Warhol fans and art lovers alike.
Apart from the Ladies and Gentlemen series, the exhibition will also exhibit a retrospective of over 100 well known Warhol works. The exhibition plans to commence at The Tate Modern from March, 12th, through to September, 6th, 2020.
For more information about the Tate Modern click here
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