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And Gentlemen

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Critical Review

The Ladies and Gentlemen print portfolio is Warhol’s largest, depicting various portraits of transgender women he met in Manhattan.

In this collection, Warhol produces portraits of transgender women who he met in Manhattan’s Gilded Grape bar, a popular space where New York’s Black and Latinx trans women and drag queens came to spend time with one another, dance and meet new people. To make the portraits, Warhol took over 500 polaroid pictures of 14 different subjects.

Having 14 subjects for the collection meant that Warhol could get to know the sitters on a personal level. By getting to know the models in an intimate studio setting, Warhol was able to learn more about their identities which was a key element of the collection which explores themes of performance, glamour and personality.

The collection was commissioned by Italian art dealer Luciano Anselmino who paid $900,000 for 105 canvases. Anselmino came up with the title of the collection, Ladies and Gentlemen, which is often criticised for the way in which it seems to dramatise gender and performance instead of focussing on the lived experiences of the sitters, many of whom were very poor and faced extreme prejudice in their daily lives. Anselmino also wanted the portraits of New York’s drag queens to be ‘impersonal’ and ‘anonymous’ meaning that the names and identities of the models remained anonymous until 2014 when the Warhol Foundation published an official list of all the Ladies and Gentlemen paintings.