Luciano Anselmino (1943–1979) was an obscure figure, even in his home country of Italy, despite having considerable impact on the art world of the 60s and 70s in Milan and Turin, and despite his lengthy association with eminent artist, Man Ray. He is mostly known now for his role in Warhol’s Ladies and Gentlemen series, having commissioned it in the wake of the death of Superstar Candy Darling.
Luciano Anselmino opened an art gallery, the Galleria Il Fauno, in May of 1968 in Turin. The gallery specialized in both Surrealism and Pop Art, showcasing artists such as Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Allen Jones, and of course, Andy Warhol. The gallery would close in 1974, however, with Anselmino indicating dissatisfaction with a stagnating art market, something he saw driven by a lack of appreciation for the avant-garde. That didn’t deter him from opening another gallery in Milan the next year, a gallery that would eventually come into the hands of gallerist and important Warhol associate, Alexander Iolas. In January 1976, this would be the location of the unveiling of Ladies and Gentlemen, a series of quintessential Warholian portraits of drag queens and trans women from New York’s Greenwich Village. Warhol received $900,000 for this collection of 105 paintings and 10 prints.
Besides being an outlet for Warhol in Italy, Anselmino was also the art dealer of self-taught Italian icon, Carol Rama, and the aforementioned, Man Ray. In fact, Anselmino introduced Warhol to Ray and commissioned a series of the older artist’s portraits. A number of cigars that Anselmino brought would eventually be used as props for the photo shoot, resulting in the particular image Warhol used for his final silkscreened depiction.
Luciano Anselmino died in 1979, found in his bathtub, either from accident or overdose. He was described as a reserved person, having few friendships. This may be partially why his documents were turned over to the Milan State Archives after his death.