300 Rarely-Seen, Risqué Drawings by Andy Warhol Published in the New Book, Andy Warhol: Love, Sex, and Desire. Drawings (1950–1962)

It’s not the ingre­di­ents that sell the prod­uct. It’s how Warhol makes you feel about the prod­uct. 

Young and Rubi­cam employ­ee, cir­ca ear­ly 1950s

It did not take Andy Warhol long to find the sta­tus he sought as a young man. Short­ly after mov­ing to New York City in 1949, he estab­lished him­self as one of the high­est paid free­lance illus­tra­tors of the peri­od.

His whim­si­cal, eye-catch­ing line draw­ings for var­i­ous lux­u­ry brands appeared in such high pro­file pub­li­ca­tions as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

The sense of pret­ti­ness and play that ani­mat­ed his pic­tures of shoescats, and per­fume bot­tles is evi­dent in the 1000-some homo­erot­ic draw­ings he pro­duced dur­ing the same time, but those proved to be a tougher sell.

In an era when sodomy was judged to be a felony in every state, full-frontal male nudi­ty was con­sid­ered obscene, and the art world was in the thrall of the macho Abstract Expres­sion­ists, Warhol had dif­fi­cul­ty find­ing a gallery to show his gen­tle depic­tions of gay inti­ma­cy.

Final­ly, a per­son­al con­nec­tion at the Bod­ley Gallery on New York’s Upper East Side agreed to host a small exhi­bi­tion, open­ing Stud­ies for a Boy Book by Andy Warhol on Valentine’s Day 1956.

The draw­ings were rem­i­nis­cent of Warhol favorite Jean Cocteau’s sketch­es’ in both sub­ject mat­ter and clean­ly exe­cut­ed line. His mod­els were friends, lovers, assis­tants, and oth­er scene­mak­ers.

Warhol’s friend, Robert Fleis­ch­er, a sta­tionery buy­er at Bergdorf Goodman’s, recalled:

He used to come over to my apart­ment on 76th Street. He used to come quite often. He always want­ed to sketch me. At the same time, just about that time, I became a mod­el. I was pho­tographed a lot, and I was in retail­ing but earned part of my income by mod­el­ing and Andy used to sketch and sketch and sketch and sketch… He said he was going to do what he called his ‘Boy Book,’ and he want­ed all of us to pose nude, and we did. There was loads of us… Andy loved to sketch mod­els and very inti­mate sex­u­al acts. Real­ly! 

Warhol’s ambi­tion to pub­lish a mono­graph of A Boy Book went unre­al­ized dur­ing his life­time, but 300 of the draw­ings appear in Taschen’s just-released Andy Warhol. Love, Sex, and Desire. Draw­ings 1950–1962.

The col­lec­tion also fea­tures essays by biog­ra­ph­er Blake Gop­nik and crit­ic Drew Zei­ba, as well as poems by James Bald­winThom GunnHarold NorseAllen Gins­berg, and Essex Hemphill.

Warhol’s first stu­dio assis­tant, anti­quar­i­an and illus­tra­tor Vito Gial­lo, remem­bered Warhol dur­ing this peri­od: “He nev­er con­sid­ered him­self a fine artist but he wished he could be. We often talked about that.”

As Michael Day­ton Her­mann, who edit­ed Andy Warhol. Love, Sex, and Desire. Draw­ings 1950–1962 observes:

Col­lec­tive­ly, the hun­dreds of draw­ings Warhol made from life dur­ing this peri­od pro­vide a touch­ing por­trait of the one per­son not depict­ed in any of them—Andy Warhol.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

130,000 Pho­tographs by Andy Warhol Are Now Avail­able Online, Cour­tesy of Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty

When Andy Warhol & Edie Sedg­wick, the First Cou­ple of Pop Art, Made an Odd Appear­ance on the Merv Grif­fin Show (1965)

Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of the Andy Warhol Exhi­bi­tion at the Tate Mod­ern

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. She most recent­ly appeared as a French Cana­di­an bear who trav­els to New York City in search of food and mean­ing in Greg Kotis’ short film, L’Ourse.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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