NEW YORK |  “Drag queens,” opines Andy Warhol, “are living testimony to the way women used to want to be, the way some people still want them to be, and the way some women still actually want to be. Drags are ambulatory archives of ideal movie-star womanhood. They perform a documentary service, usually consecrating their lives to keeping the glittering alternative alive and available for (not-too-close) inspection.”

That’s pretty high-toned philosophy. Something for academics to suck on. But let’s face it. Warhol wasn’t a pretty drag queen, as his “Self-Portrait in Drag” below attests. He does get the last laugh, for this Polaroid print is being auctioned off at a price of $12,625. The mean-looking photo isn’t a work of art. It’s strictly ephemera. A pricey piece of ephemera. And I don’t think it offers “living testimony to the way women used to want to be.”

Andy Warhol "Self-Portrait in Drag" (1981) | @ Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
Andy Warhol “Self-Portrait in Drag” (1981) | @ Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Over at Christie’s online, Andy Warhol’s gay archive is on sale through June 27. The Andy Warhol @ Christie’s sale has grouped Warhol’s sexy snaps and artful doodles with male bodies and then slapped the incriminating evidence with the tony title “Eyes of the Guise.” Selected from the collection of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the online auction features more than 200 photographs, prints and drawings that “follow the tradition of the male nude as seen through Warhol’s lens and provide never before insight into Warhol’s personal relationships.”

It’s a pretty interesting gay archive that documents his intimate bedroom and times. Warhol frequently approached male guests at a party and asked, “Can I draw your cock?” It’s apparently a common practice for him to do this. There are nice glimpses of Gay Pride marches and Fire Island parties, as well as loving portraits of his friends Miguel Bose, Keith Haring, Victor Hugo, Truman Capote, David Geffen, Quentin Crisp and a very randy Christopher Makos. Warhol grabbed many pics of long dongs, abs and bubble butts. He joked that these untitled male nudes should be called “Landscapes.” I’ve always tonied up my own boyology artwork by calling them “studies” and “still lifes,” except of course that I am not Warhol, and he was a pop-art pioneer.

Andy Warhol "Christopher Makos and Nude Male Model" | @ Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
Andy Warhol “Christopher Makos and Nude Male Model” | @ Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

The most photographed subject of Warhol’s oeuvre was Jon Gould, a 27-year-old Paramount Pictures executive who appears in 346 of the 1,583 contact sheets Warhol produced between February 1981 and September 1985. Warhol met Gould the year his relationship with Jed Johnson ended in 1980.  The two spent a lot of time traveling together, visiting such destinations as Palm Beach, St. Martin, Montauk and Aspen. They remained together for five years. In 1986, at the age of 33, Gould died of AIDS.

Like most of us, Warhol used the camera to document the world around him. In the 1960’s and early 1970’s, he took photo-booth strips and Polaroids. In 1976, Warhol bought a point-and-shoot Minox camera, and that’s when he started getting real artistic with gelatin silver prints. Later Warhol began to make a series of works known as the “sewn photographs,” which resembles his use of serial repetition in his legendary Campbell Soup Cans or his Coke Bottle series. Using a Bermina sewing machine, Warhol threaded individual images to create large abstract imagery that suggest optical patterns. He executed “Pool Party” from 1976 to 1986 (not every day obviously! and he probably paid someone else to sew the pictures together); it is being auctioned off at an estimated price of $15,150.

Andy Warhol "Pool Party" | @ Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
Andy Warhol “Pool Party” | @ Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

I think diplomats and queer art-loving ambassadors may find these Warhol photographs great cocktail-party conversation or gifts for LGBT dignitaries. If there is any question about their status as art, they can quote the Christie’s catalogs and re-state the specialists’ notes. Such as this: “By blurring the traditional distinctions between art and photography, Warhol demonstrates himself to be a tireless innovator and his continued willingness to experiment. Indeed, the last decade of his life was considered by some to be the most innovative of his career. In addition to his stitched photographs, we see works that show the artist to have been brimming with pioneering ideas, both in terms of content and of technique. Warhol was extremely proactive in constantly developing his art, and his stitched photograph series is clear evidence of his belief that, ‘They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.’ ”

My personal favorite photos on auction is a series called “Querelle,” a reference to the 1947 novel Querelle de Brest written by Jean Genet, which was made into a film by avant-garde German film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

In his 1989 diary, Warhol recalled: “We went over to where Fassbinder was filming this movie called Querelle by Genet. Brad Davis is the star of it. I got my picture taken with Brad and I got his autograph on an ashtray for Jon. Met Fassbinder and he was wearing outrageous clothes, the leopard-skin jodhpurs, and one of the guys standing there said he thought Fassbinder had dressed up like that just for me because he usually wears just plain black leather. He looked like a circus trainer. And Brad Davis looks so strange, so delicate-looking.”

Querelle was Fassbinder’s final work as a writer/director before passing away from a drug overdose in June 1982. It was posthumously released a few months after his death.Warhol’s series of photographs (drawings and prints) are early studies of the process that went into the creation of the movie poster. “The camera served as the artist’s sketch pad,” the Christie’s specialist note states, “creating an array of images that Warhol could then choose from and mechanically reproduce using the silkscreen technique that would then be overlaid with lines drawn from the artist’s hand. The Querelle series puts the artist’s full process on rare display and is compiled here for the first time.”

Individual Querelle items cost as much as $20,000 a pop. Or you can grab the big juicy sex parts. –randygener

Andy Warhol "Querelle" | @ Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
Andy Warhol “Querelle” | @ Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
Andy Warhol "Querelle" | @ Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
Andy Warhol “Querelle” | @ Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
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One thought on “ON PHOTOGRAPHY (NSFW) | Andy Warhol’s gay male archives on auction at Christie’s online

  1. Warhol’s 1965 film Vinyl is an adaptation of Anthony Burgess ‘ popular dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange . Others record improvised encounters between Factory regulars such as Brigid Berlin , Viva , Edie Sedgwick , Candy Darling , Holly Woodlawn , Ondine , Nico , and Jackie Curtis . Legendary underground artist Jack Smith appears in the film Camp.

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