• Andy Warhol. Ladies and Gentlemen, 1975.

    Andy Warhol. Ladies and Gentlemen, 1975. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, 119 1/2 x 80 3/4 inches (303.5 x 205.1 cm). © 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Story May 14, 2019 New York

Warhol Women | Ladies and Gentlemen

In 1975 the Italian art dealer Luciano Anselmino commissioned Andy Warhol to create a series of 100-130 paintings, to be made in four graduated sizes. The dealer wanted portraits featuring New York drag queens, and it would be called Ladies and Gentlemen. Anselmino had made it clear that he did not want the subjects to be drag queens who might simply appear to be beautiful women, nor did he want them to be selected from the higher profile members of the drag community. [1] Warhol’s friend Bob Colacello, and his assistant Ronnie Cutrone, were tasked with finding drag queens willing to pose for a fee. [2] Though Warhol had given them express instructions not to tell potential subjects that they would be posing for him, Cutrone later recalled that he didn’t keep to those instructions entirely:

“’My ex-, ex-wife Gigi and I used to hang out at Ramrod [a bar on West Street along the waterfront in Greenwich Village]. She was the only woman on the whole waterfront let into the gay bars at that time. They all loved Gigi. So I had easy access to all the transvestites. At 3 in the morning, I would chase a transvestite down the street yelling, ‘You’re wonderful; we want you to pose for Warhol.’ And she’d be running away, looking at me, Was I going to bash her or cast her? And I’d say ‘No, no, no, I’m serious.’ So I got models for the drag queen series.’” [3]

In total, Warhol worked with fourteen models for the series, shooting over five hundred Polaroids [4] and producing 268 paintings—making it one of the artist’s most prolific series of paintings. [5] Nine of the fourteen models signed at least one of their Polaroids, though none of the portraits were originally displayed with the model’s name. Four of the models who didn’t sign have since been identified, including the model for this portrait, Wilhelmina Ross, who was a prominent figure in the Hot Peaches theatre troupe. Ross was identified in 1997 by the troupe’s co-founder Jimmy Camicia, who saw her portrait in an exhibition of works from this series at Gagosian, in New York. [6] Warhol shot 53 Polaroids of Ross, on August 13, 1974, selecting seven images from which he made 73 portraits. [7]

 


 

In honor of our exhibition Warhol Women, we’re sharing some of the stories behind the artist’s iconic portraits. Visit the Happenings page each week to read more!

 


Notes:
[1] Georg Frei, Neil Printz, and Sally King-Nero, eds. The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné, Warhol 04 Paintings and Sculptures 1974-1976 (New York; London: Phaidon, 2014), 26.
[2] Georg Frei, Neil Printz, and Sally King-Nero, eds. The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné, Warhol 04 Paintings and Sculptures 1974-1976 (New York; London: Phaidon, 2014), 26.
[3] Georg Frei, Neil Printz, and Sally King-Nero, eds. The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné, Warhol 04 Paintings and Sculptures 1974-1976 (New York; London: Phaidon, 2014), 26-27.
[4] Georg Frei, Neil Printz, and Sally King-Nero, eds. The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné, Warhol 04 Paintings and Sculptures 1974-1976 (New York; London: Phaidon, 2014), 27.
[5] Georg Frei, Neil Printz, and Sally King-Nero, eds. The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné, Warhol 04 Paintings and Sculptures 1974-1976 (New York; London: Phaidon, 2014), 23.
[6] Georg Frei, Neil Printz, and Sally King-Nero, eds. The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné, Warhol 04 Paintings and Sculptures 1974-1976 (New York; London: Phaidon, 2014), 27.
[7] Georg Frei, Neil Printz, and Sally King-Nero, eds. The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné, Warhol 04 Paintings and Sculptures 1974-1976 (New York; London: Phaidon, 2014), 46.

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