“I’ve never met a person I couldn’t call a beauty,” Andy Warhol famously said.
From 1958 until his death in 1987, Warhol kept his SX-70 Polaroid close at hand, relentlessly documenting the muses in his artist studio The Factory, the characters he encountered around New York City, and the celebrities he met in Hollywood, California. Among the 20,000 Polaroids left behind are portraits of stars including Grace Jones, Jane Fonda, and Jack Nicholson, as well as fellow artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and David Hockney.
Carrying his camera everywhere, he snapped portraits both as a way to “collect” his memories and prepare for his silkscreens. The famed artist also turned the camera toward himself, taking self-portraits that are an aloof, disconnected look at his own face. Warhol preciously guarded his Polaroids, relentlessly chronicling life up until his death in 1987.
Using different Polaroid films and procedures, Warhol’s prolific output reflects his wider practice and ongoing fascination with consumer culture. At the same time, the photographs portray the beginnings of an era and society defined by image and illusion.
Andy Warhol’s Intimate Polaroids of the Queer Community
As the Gay Liberation Movement got into full swing during the 1970s, Andy Warhol began to focus on the LGBTQ community in his art, creating two seminal bodies of work, Sex Parts and Torsos and Ladies & Gentlemen. It seems that the underlying motive for the entire series was the final acceptance of his sexuality. As Warhol’s longtime assistant Ronnie Cutrone recalls, the artist was a Catholic and a homosexual who jokingly referred to homosexuality as a “problem”.