ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)

Ladies and Gentlemen (Alphanso Panell)

Details
ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
Ladies and Gentlemen (Alphanso Panell)
signed and dated 'Andy Warhol 75' (on the overlap)
acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
32 x 26 in. (81.3 x 66.0 cm.)
Painted in 1975.
Provenance
Carlo Monzino, Italy, acquired directly from the artist
Private collection, by descent from the above
Anon. sale; Sotheby's, London, 2 July 2008, lot 381
Private collection, Italy
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Literature
N. Printz and S. King-Nero, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculptures late 1974-1976, vol. 4, New York, 2014, pp. 118 and 126, no. 2894 (illustrated).
Exhibited
Ferrara, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Andy Warhol: Ladies and Gentlemen, 1975, n.p. (illustrated).
Vienna, Galerie Ulysses, Andy Warhol: Ladies and Gentlemen, December 1987.
Venice, Abbazia di San Gregorio, Andy Warhol in Venice, June 1988, pp. 43 and 64, no. 37 (illustrated).

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Kathryn Widing
Kathryn Widing Vice President, Specialist, Co-Head of Day Sale

Lot Essay

Andy Warhol’s series Ladies and Gentlemen is one of his largest, most visually enticing, and least known bodies of work. Amidst 1974, Italian art dealer and collector Luciano Anselmino commissioned Warhol to paint one hundred and five portraits and ten prints of cross-dressers in four varying sizes. The primary purpose for these works was for an exhibition and, later, a book project. Luciano Anselmino titled the series Ladies and Gentlemen deriving from the world of theater since Anselmino, “viewed the work of Andy Warhol through the perspective of a spectacle.” (L. Anselmino quoted N. Printz, S. King-Nero, The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculpture late 19741976, London, 2014, pg. 59) The revelation of these works proceeded with Warhol’s Death and Disaster series, which portray horrific scenes of car crashes, electric chairs, race, riots, and suicide. Unlike his Death and Disaster series, Ladies and Gentlemen exhibit a rare repetition of people who are not as evident in society through media and technology as celebrities Warhol’s usual oeuvre consist of. Instead, Warhol puts on display in this series a ‘politically charged’ America that few had been able to investigate at the time. The series was fostered and established through Warhol exploring the idea of gender as a disguise and simultaneously gender being a means of identity beyond his own experience.
Warhol made a critical shift in his formation of works amongst this series. Within the painted portraiture of Ladies and Gentlemen, Warhol superimposed his colors in layers in order to display the application of paint directly on top of each newfound layer and a continued application of the background color. Warhol likely reinvented his form for two reasons: as a means for further self-expression as well as to differentiate this new series of portraits from his eminent celebrity portraits. In comparison to his preceding works, the local colors and background colors coincided on the primed ground and were more transparent. This collection of primarily unknown drag queens strays from being translucent and strives to be bold. Warhol welcomes imperfections of the coated paint and generates new ‘imperfections’ within the work through color layering and sheer experimentation. Warhol even noted he spent a vast majority of time rendering imperfections to celebrate and invent a new persona from the intimate polaroids he is drawing from. Additionally, the thick layers of paint mirror the disguise Warhol occasionally takes when making himself up. Thick layers of paint mimic the thick layer of makeup that Warhol constantly artfully fashions to make up his own features readily displayed in the polaroid.
After initially declining the offer to be commissioned, Warhol produced more than twice that number of originally commissioned works due to strong ties to the composition and connection to the motif. The pieces are based on five hundred Polaroids of fourteen models recruited from the streets of West Village, the environs of the Chelsea Piers, and bars such as Gilded Grapes in Hell’s Kitchen. Although the models were billed as anonymous when the portraits were first shown in Italy, models such as Wilhelmina Ross, a prominent member of the West Village community, and drag scene were quickly recognized once the works appeared in the United States. Warhol’s mark on intimate scenes both in protest of freedoms and self-expression has reexhibited unanimously in the past five years. Both glimpses of the Death and Disaster series and the Ladies and Gentlemen series have been reexhibited in a retrospective show broadcasted at The Whitney Museum of Art organized in 2018.
Unlike the measly fifty dollars the drag queens were once paid to pose in front of Warhol’s vigilant lens, today, we continue to give back to the commissioned drag queens and pay tribute to this superstar luster series. Like Jackie’s famous and enthralling works that Warhol constructed, Ladies and Gentlemen have become an engaging and captivating piece that is now an emanating series of Warhol’s. We invite all to continue to investigate the large sloths of paint Warhol uses as one may be able to uncover more than just the colors that seep through the final layer. Taking a closer look, one may be able to reveal more of who Warhol is and the unspoken and hidden parts of his life that the snippets of the camera lens, artwork, and his unexpected passing did not capture.

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