Ladies and Gentlemen F&S II.131
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Ladies and Gentlemen F&S II.131

Exemplar 20/125. Edition 250, 25 AP, 11 PP, signed, numbered and dated 75' in pencil on verso. Printed by Alexander Heinrici, New York and published by Luciano Anselminino, Milan. Published in the catalogue "Andy Warhol Prints. A catalogue raisonné 1962-1987." by Frayda Feldman and Jörg  Schellmann, fourth edition revised and expanded by Frayda Feldman and Claudia Defendi.

It was Luciano Anselmino, an Italian art collector, who commissioned the series in 1974 for $900,000 for 105 plates. It is by far the best paid work of Warhol's work. It was Anselmino himself who chose the title of the series, and he did so with an ironic and voyeuristic tone towards the subject matter. The aim was to portray transvestism in an impersonal manner.

Warhol actually lived the commission with exuberant enthusiasm, transforming these anonymous individuals into real actors, often playing on theatrical and flamboyant poses, in order to bring all the female glamour of the subjects to the surface. Warhol decided to take drag queens from the New York club The Gilded Grape as models, a rather strong subject and not easy to resolve at the time. The artist, despite the light poses of the protagonists, still hinted at something more challenging.

Working with obsessive speed, Warhol shot more than 500 Polaroids and made 268 plates, more than twice as many as requested. Each 'model' was paid a mere $50 (this seems little, but many of the models said that for $50 they would have done a lot more...) and, during the 1975 exhibition in Ferrara's Palazzo dei Diamanti, he did not include any of their names: it was only thanks to the meticulous research of the Andy Warhol Foundation in New York it was possible, in some cases, to give a name in the following years.

It was Warhol himself who defined his series: "The models are at once feminine, strong and beautiful. The series is about drag culture, which has been driven by African-Americans and Latinos, although the story behind it is much whiter!". It was a very strong statement for the time, in which the black man represented a threat, especially after the events related to the African Americans' desire for self-determination: Malcolm X, M. L. King and later the Black Panthers Party who spearheaded the African American revolution of '66.

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Screenprint on Arches paper


110.5 x 72.4 cm