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Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987)
LOT ID: 81367
Self-Portrait in Drag, 1981

Polaroid
4.25 х 3.38 in. (10.8 x 8.59 cm.)
Other, embossed, verso
Edition Unique
Lot description
Evincing both humor and pathos, this rare self-portrait by Andy Warhol is a unique Polaroid print from 1981, the year that Warhol and his assistant Christopher Makos began to collaborate on photographing the artist in drag costume. Warhol was known to occasionally dress in drag for parties, and to express admiration for the artifice and aspiration involved in cross-dressing. In the present work, he gazes out at the viewer with a melancholic air, his heavy makeup and platinum wig offsetting his apparent vulnerability. Taken six years before the artist’s death, “Self-Portrait in Drag” is a late study in performance and introspection from the Pop portraitist who immortalized so many female icons during his career—and, towards the end of his life, found himself channeling their aura.

Polaroid measures 4.25 x 3.38 inches (10.8 x 8.6 cm), and is framed to museum standards in a handmade frame with dimensions of 11.44 x 10.3 inches (29.1 x 26.2 cm).

Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987), born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, PA, was the most prominent Pop artist of the twentieth century. After studying design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Warhol moved to New York City in 1949 to pursue a career as a commercial artist. In the early 1960s, Warhol began to create paintings based on advertising imagery. Shocking to many in its embrace of “low” art and its emotional detachment, this early work quickly brought him fame; during this period, he used techniques such as screenprinting and stenciling to produce his well-known series featuring Campbell’s soup cans, media about disasters, and electric chairs, as well as portraits of media stars (Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, and Elvis Presley were among his subjects). As his fame grew, Warhol established a studio called The Factory on 47th Street, where gathered a group of eccentrics he called the “Superstars.” With the Superstars, he created a number of experimental films, such as “Sleep,” “Chelsea Girls,” and “Empire”; these films were often banned by the police for their vulgarity. In 1968, Valerie Solanas, a former member of Warhol’s entourage, attempted to kill the artist and others outside of The Factory. After surviving the attack, Warhol began to focus on celebrity portraits, garnering considerable earnings but little critical approval. With Gerard Malanga, he founded Interview Magazine, which is still in print today. In the 1980s, Warhol’s work was revitalized by collaborations with younger artists, such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, and Keith Haring, and he produced a renowned series of paintings, including “The Last Supper.” Warhol died in 1987 from complications following an operation.

Selected Public Collections:
Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, France
Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Musée d'Art Contemporain, Marseille, France
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Tate Modern, London, England
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Self-Portrait in Drag by Andy Warhol
  • Self-Portrait in Drag by Andy Warhol
  • Self-Portrait in Drag by Andy Warhol
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