World-famous Commercial Illustrator Andy Warhol is known for his illustration of Campbell’s Soup Cans, but the New York artist was also a member of the LGBT community.
Back in 1952, he also had a series of line drawings that celebrated queer love, which were, unsurprisingly, rejected in the hypermasculinity-infatuated 50s America. The artist, however, refused to be kept down, and would continue to live his life unrestrained by social conventions, as noted by artist John Giorno, Warhol’s former lover.
These drawings were later brought together in the book, Andy Warhol Love, Sex, and Desire Drawings 1950-1962. The book compiles 300 drawings, most of which were rendered on paper with ink, of gay men enjoying the pleasure of youth, beauty, and flesh.
Notably, these drawings were made during a time when homosexuality was straight-up illegal, with full-frontal male nudity considered by the general public as ‘obscene’, meaning that their imagery of unrestrained sexuality, defiant against the norms of society, can be seen by some as a sign of liberation, and delight.
Editor of the book, Dayton Hermann, noted that these drawings were first shown off by Warhol back in Valentine’s Day of 1956, at the Bodley Gallery, in Upper East Side, New York. They note how Warhol had no plans to get into the influential social cliques of the time by publicly showing off art that stands against the acceptable ideas of sexuality of the time period.
Hermann says that, based on what the Commercial Illustrator did, Warhol was working on expanding those elite groups in order to include marginalized people like him. This fits nicely with the motto of The Factory, Warhol’s famous studio, which brought people together regardless of who they were, where they hailed from, and what their sexuality was. Warhol went so far as to say that people in The Factory weren’t actually that interested in him, but in seeing each other.
Warhol kept his romantic relationships somewhat private, but his artworks showed off his queer identity. With that in mind, these compiled drawings might show more about the artist that made them than his self-portraits.
Hermann says about Andy Warhol Love, Sex, and Desire show off Warhol’s hidden side, and paint a portrait of him, in spite of the fact that Warhol wasn’t in any of the drawings in the collection.