Andy Warhol always wanted to publish his highly homoerotic 1950s drawings portraying mainly nude young men kissing, posing or engaging in sexual acts such as fellatio. The Pop art pioneer showed a selection of these taboo-busting works—primarily rendered in ink on paper—at New York’s Bodley Gallery in 1956 (Studies For [sic] a Boy Book) but never realised his ambition to publish the drawings in a monograph.
According to a statement from the publisher Taschen, Warhol “mistakenly saw these illustrations as his way of breaking into the New York art scene, underestimating the pervading homophobia of the time [in the mid 1950s]”. Now, more than half a century later, Taschen has has brought together more than 300 of the sexually charged works—selected by the New York-based Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts—in a lavish new book Andy Warhol, Love, Sex and Desire, Drawings 1950-1962. The book has been made in a numbered limited edition of 7,500 and includes essays also by Warhol’s biographer Blake Gopnik and the art critic Drew Zeiba.
The book’s editor Michael Dayton Hermann, who is the director of licensing, marketing, and sales at the Andy Warhol Foundation, writes in the foreword how he discovered the works at the foundation, and why they matter. “After casually glimpsing several drawings of men from the 1950s, I found myself examining dozens, and then, before I knew it, I was mesmerised by hundreds of them.”
He adds: “While they are aesthetically pleasing and well executed, in recognising their multitude I realised these drawings are an early example of Warhol obsessively capturing people and moments as he would later do with his Polaroid and 35mm cameras, tape recorder and diaries. However, these hand-drawn, private moments filled with sexual radiation are distinct, because they are imbued with an emotional vulnerability that few of his later works exhibit.”
Below are a selection of Warhol’s drawings, throwing light on this little-known, intimate and intoxicating addition to the Pop artist’s canon.
• Andy Warhol, Love, Sex and Desire, Drawings 1950-62, Michael Dayton Hermann, ed., Drew Zeiba, Blake Gopnik, Taschen, 392pp, £75 (hb)