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Andy Warhol (USA 1928‑1987)

Helen/Harry Morales for ”Ladies and Gentlemen”

To be sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary 18-19 November 2020

Lot 577 Andy Warhol (USA 1928‑1987). Helen/Harry Morales for ”Ladies and Gentlemen”. Stamped by The Estate of Andy Warhol and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts on the overlap. Numbered 62‑56-2354 and PA35.036 on the stretcher. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, 36 x 28 cm.

Executed in 1975.


1.200.000 – 1.500.000 SEK
€ 116.000 – 145.000


Coskun Fine Art, London.
Phillips London, sale 15 October 2015, lot 177.
An Important Swedish Private Collection, acquired at the above sale.


Coskun Fine Art, London, ”Celebrity Portraits”, 25 June-22 July 2008.

In context

Andy Warhol – Helen/Harry Morales for “Ladies and Gentlemen”

In the 1970’s, the United States entered a more liberal mind-set and Studio 54 was at its height. The founders of the disco Steve Rubell and Ian Shraeger created a world beyond reality and during the years 1977-1981 it was the world’s most famous entertainment venue. It was admittedly difficult to get in and outside the club Steve Rubell himself sat perched on a lamppost and dictated who was allowed in for the night. Andy Warhol found himself right at the centre of the action, being one of the most celebrated contemporary artists, especially among the rich and famous. They were all fascinated by the leading figure within pop art and Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley are only a few of the many celebrities who feature in his work. However, Andy Warhol’s series “Ladies and Gentlemen” from 1975 portray people whose names were only recently uncovered and we still know very little about many of them.

During this time, the homosexual and drag community began boldly embracing their sexuality. In 1975, the Italian art dealer Luciano Anselmino commissioned Andy Warhol to make a series of “impersonal, anonymous” pictures of “transvestites” and he named the series “Ladies and Gentlemen”. Bob Colacello, editor of Interview magazine, and other friends of Warhol recruited the subjects under the artist’s direction, mostly from the Gilded Grape. The Gilded Grape was a bar and nightclub situated on Manhattan’s 8th Avenue and a popular hangout for New York’s black and Latino trans people and drag queens. The bar was close to The Factory, Warhol’s famous studio, and he would often visit the Gilded Grape to show visitors the real New York nightlife.

The series of “Ladies and Gentlemen” was first exhibited in Italy at the Palazzo di Diamente. When creating this series, Warhol photographed 14 different models and sifted through the images with them to find the ones they thought best represented them. In total, he took over 500 photographs and selected a few to enlarge into silkscreens. Then, he enhanced the model’s features by adding paint onto the canvases. Undeniably, these glamorous and exhibitionist personas fascinated Warhol and he was struck by their self-confidence and outspoken appearance. Most of the portraits were taken at a three-quarters angle and they all focus on gender role-play and the gender ambiguity, raising important questions still accurate to this day. Warhol, who was highly interested in the subject, has been quoted: “I wonder whether it’s harder for 1) a man to be a man, 2) a man to be a woman, 3) a woman to be a woman, or 4) a woman to be a man. I don’t really know the answer, but from watching all the different types, I know that people who think they’re working the hardest are the men who are trying to be a woman. They do double-time. They do all the things: they think about shaving and not shaving, of primping and not primping, of buying men’s clothes and women’s clothes. I guess it’s interesting to try to be another sex.” (Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), New York, 1975, p. 98). He captured the models from different angles and their expressions ranged from mischievous and joyful to powerful and vulnerable. Some critics have pointed out that while Warhol managed to bring attention to this community, he was not a part of it. Still, his series of “Ladies and Gentlemen” provides an important insight into the lives and people of the transgender community in the 1970’s New York.

Warhol asked the sitters to sign the Polaroids, which uncovers many of their names. Included in this sale is a portrait of Helen/Harry Morales, who signed one of her Polaroids as Helen Morales and one as Harry Morales. Andy Warhol’s make up artist Corey Tippin met Morales at the Gilded Grape and Warhol enjoyed the session so much that he asked her to return the following day. In total, Andy Warhol painted 31 works featuring Morales and he took 42 Polaroids of her. A series of screen prints featuring these works were made the same year.

As a leading figure within the pop art-movement, Warhol challenged the traditional perception of art with the use of the popular mass media, everyday objects and people. This visualisation was brought into the circles of the fine art and it was its experimental form that Andy Warhol adopted, and within it he created his own signature style. Because of his previous background in advertising, he was an early adaptor to innovative techniques of image making, such as the silkscreen printmaking, sometimes using photos as models. Warhol had solved many technical concerns and could work effectively and quickly, almost machine-like, producing more than one hundred paintings in only a few months. ”The reason I’m painting this way is because I want to be a machine. Whatever I do, and do machine-like, is because it is what I want to do. I think it would be terrific if everybody was alike” he stated. With an everlasting enthusiasm and vitality he threw himself into new exciting projects and embraced new ideas with an astonishing passion. At the time when he created “Ladies and Gentlemen”, Andy Warhol’s critical success reached even more immense heights and being associated with Warhol was as glamorous as the decade itself.

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