Rare Andy Warhol portraits are set to exhibit for the first time

Heading to London next year? A series of Andy Warhol portraits are about to go on display for the first time at the Tate Modern gallery in London.

The 25 portraits capture black and Latinx drag queens and trans women, providing a snapshot of the underground queer scene of New York in the ’70s.

A series of Andy Warhol portraits that capture members of the New York queer scene in the ’70s are making their public debut next year at London’s Tate Modern.

The portraits were originally commissioned in 1974 by Italian art dealer, Luciano Anselmino, following the death of trans actor Candy Darling, who had starred in Warhol’s film Flesh only a few years prior.

Warhol created over 250 colourful portraits in total, recruiting patrons of New York’s Gilded Grape, a queer nightlife spot popular in the ’70s, to pose as the subjects.

One such figure was Marsha P. Johnson, founder of the famous New York gay bar Stonewall. Johnson was involved in the 1969 Stonewall riots in which members of the LGBT community stood up to homophobic police raids, an event that ultimately helped spark the modern gay rights movement.

“I had heard there might be these paintings in existence and I met the people who own them now and I went to visit them and it was quite the most remarkable thing,” described Tate director and co-curator of the show, Gregor Muir. “They were mostly in storage and it was just very beautiful and exciting to pull out these paintings and handle them and start to look through each and every work.”

Speaking on the exhibition, co-curator, Fiontán Moran, described it as, “one of Warhol’s biggest series of works but probably the least known.”

The portraits will take up an entire room in the gallery and mark the Tate’s first Warhol exhibition in almost 20 years.

The exhibition runs from March 12 to September 6 next year. For more info, and to book tickets, head over to the Tate Modern website.