A collection of hardly-seen-before portraits by Andy Warhol are going on display at London’s Tate Modern next year. The paintings include depictions of drag queens and trans women including the legendary trailblazer Marsha P. Johnson.
Warhol, who died in 1987, is known as a titan of American art, mainly for his iconic pop art images that have inspired generations of creatives that followed. The Tate exhibit, which will open March 12, 2020 and close Sept. 6, 2020, is set to be the largest retrospective in the U.K. dedicated to the artist. On display, according to the museum, will be some of those iconic images we’ve come to remember him for, including his pop art of Marilyn Monroe and Coca-Cola and Campbell’s Soup cans. Visitors will also be able to play with his floating Silver Clouds among other more interactive elements.
But what will be new to many is a small collection of just over a couple dozen portraits from the 1970s featuring Black and Latinx drag queens and trans women. Originally commissioned in 1974 by art dealer Luciano Anselmino following the death of trans actor Candy Darling, the paintings formed Warhol’s “Ladies and Gentleman” series.
"We're trying to achieve a more humanistic view onto Warhol, through the lenses of Warhol's upbringing and through his identity as a gay man," curator Gregor Muir said according to CNN.
Of the series, they continued, "Many of these paintings are scattered to the winds. We were very lucky in that we found a relative of one of the original collectors who retained a number of the paintings, enough for us to show 25 of the works."
As part of the commission, Warhol and Bob Colacello opened the doors of the Gilded Grape, a club on the corner of 8th Ave and West 45th St in New York City, just off Times Square. Colacello would approach clubgoers and ask them if they’d like to model for Warhol in exchange for $50. The result was 250 brightly colored portraits of the queer scene of the era.
Because of research by the Andy Warhol Foundation, all but one of the 14 sitters have been identified. One notable sitter was Stonewall vet Marsha P. Johnson.
Tickets are on sale now.