Ladies and Gentlemen 132 by Andy Warhol is one of the fourteen screenprints from the Ladies and Gentlemen portfolio. The idea for the portfolio came to Warhol in 1975 from an art dealer named Lucian Anselmino, a protege of Alexander Iolas. Anselmino, who previously commissioned Warhol to do an edition of 100 prints of Warhol’s Man Ray portrait, thought a series depicting drag queens would be an interesting theme to explore. The Ladies and Gentlemen portfolio depicts several Black and Latinx drag queens from the Gilded Grape nightclub in New York. The screenprints of each model are similar in style and composition, portraying each figure in a monochrome composition and emphasized with various color blocks.
Warhol’s associate and Interview magazine editor Bob Colacello scouted the models for the series. As per Warhol’s instructions, Colacello searched for them at the Gilded Grape, a drag queen hotspot in Manhattan near Warhol’s Factory. He would approach the extravagant revelers and ask them to pose “for a friend” for $50. The next day, they visited the Factory where Warhol took hundreds of polaroids. He never formally introduced himself to them or revealed his identity.
Ladies and Gentlemen 132 depicts an anonymous model, who gazes outward at the viewer with her hand placed brushing through her hair. Blocks of color clash across the model’s face, completing the portrait. Warhol features blocks of green, blue, brown, purple, and pink transposed against the model, accentuating her facial details and features. The green block of color covers part of the model’s hand and hair, while the brown and purple comprise part of her face. The pink block of color overlays the model’s lip, while blue swathes cover the base of the model’s figure and part of her eye. Throughout the series, Warhol seems to use these color blocks to highlight various feminine features. With this technique, Warhol captures the sense of gender nonconformity and evokes the models’ intentional confusion of gender norms.
Although Ladies and Gentlemen 132 and related screenprints are very unique for Warhol, it remains surprising that the series neither references nor names the models. (Although some of the original 500+ Polaroids include the names/surnames of the models on the back.) However, the Andy Warhol Foundation successfully identified 13 of the 14 models in 2014. The model for Ladies and Gentlemen 132 still remains unnamed.
Certain works feature notable drag queens and figures, such as Marsha P. Johnson in Ladies and Gentlemen 133. She is one of the most famous subjects in the series, known for her activism in the gay-liberation movement and as an important figure of the Stonewall uprising. Wilhelmina Ross, depicted in Ladies and Gentlemen 136, is another semi-well known drag queen.
While Ladies and Gentlemen features unknown models, Warhol still portrays them like the famous celebrities he’s portrayed prior. He Captures the models in the same vein as his portraits of Ingrid Bergman, Mick Jagger, Grace Kelly, and even the Queens. The overall theme of glamor and extravagance coincides with the complex intersections of identity and gender addressed in the portfolio. With the group of models chosen to be a part of the portfolio being either transgender women, gender nonconforming, or drag performers, the series explores the diverse contrast and concepts of identity and gender.
Ladies and Gentlemen 132 is thus a classic, yet incredibly unique Warholian masterpiece. It is one of the very few series where he portrays non-famous people. Through the portfolio, Warhol gives a spotlight to the Black and Latinx queer community of New York, a highly marginalized group at the time.