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Andy Warhol at Sadie Coles: private drawings from the 1950s

These never-before-seen works show a more personal side of the artist

These so-called “private drawings”, which come from the Warhol estate and have never been exhibited before, reveal that, at the same time as Andy Warhol was making his name in the 1950s as a commercial illustrator, he was also producing other more personal drawings for his own pleasure (until 12 April). This parade of elaborately cross-dressed men who pout, preen, and strike extravagant poses with the help of strings of pearls, painted nails and enormous cigarette holders, is evidence of the high camp milieu that Warhol was frequenting when he first came to New York which revolved around the 58th Street studio of fashion photographer Otto Fenn. Executed in deft, economic lines that bear little resemblance to the Cocteauesque curls and “blotted-line”’ contours of most of his published work, these tender, funny, spontaneous drawings also confirm Warhol’s uncanny ability to chime with whatever is in the cultural ether: Andy’s private moments sit very comfortably with today’s artistic spins on the intimate, the confessional and the deceptively casual.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Andy Warhol: private drawings from the 1950s'

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 135 April 2003