ART BEYOND STEREOTYPES: ARTISTS PROMOTING QUEER LIBERATION THROUGH ART

Andy Warhol

incomparable visual lexicon of consumerism and media throughout his illustrious artistic career. From his Campbell’s soup cans to celebrity portraits, Warhol and his artwork was nothing short of iconic. His friendships and collaborations with numerous female stars resulted in some of the landmark icons of the queer culture and his veiled vulnerability when portraying the likes of Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor taught us about our flaws and vanities. Yet, Warhol’s contribution to queer culture far extends beyond his legendary friendships and celebrity portraits.

During the 1950s, the artist sketched many sensual unknown portraits and nude depictions of men, illustrating a softer side to male eroticism. Furthermore, in 1974, Warhol was commissioned by Italian art dealer Luciano Anselmino to renounce the detritus of everyday life and instead depict New York’s hidden community of drag queens. The series, now known as Ladies and Gentleman, is made up of 268 vibrantly coloured screen prints featuring iconic members of the LGBTQ+ community, including Helen Morales, Wilhelmina Ross and even Marsha P. Johnson herself. In doing this, Warhol provided visibility to unseen members of society, and yet, even despite the artist’s own fame, it was not until 2014 that any researchers or art historians critically reviewed the works. Until then, all the sitters had remained unidentified, and their critical importance within both cultural and wider history had been radically undervalued.

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