As far as I’m concerned, being any gender is a drag. –Patti Smith
Focusing on New York in the 1970s and early 80s, Warhol & Mapplethorpe: Guise & Dolls explored the vibrant and tumultuous era of change through the work of Andy Warhol and Robert Mapplethorpe, both of whom created significant bodies of work in self-portraiture, in which particular disguises, characters and ambiguous personalities are evoked. The first dual museum exhibition to feature these two visionary artists, Guise & Dolls included the artists’ portraits of each other, self-portraits and a selection of iconic portraits of sitters that address role-playing and gender roles–masculinity, femininity and androgyny.
Guise & Dolls focused on several prominent bodies of work from each artist’s oeuvre: Warhol’s “Ladies and Gentlemen” series (1975) of drag queen portraits, Christopher Makos’s “Altered Images” series of Warhol in drag, Mapplethorpe’s photographs of lifelong friend and longtime muse Patti Smith that range from masculine to feminine and Mapplethorpe’s photographic series and book Lady: Lisa Lyon (1983) of the female bodybuilding champion in numerous gender-bending guises. Androgynous and cross-dressing subjects, including Bob Colacello, Candy Darling and Grace Jones supplemented the series. The exhibition showcased approximately 100 works of art including paintings, photographs, Polaroids, prints and video.
Warhol and Mapplethorpe are embedded in the Wadsworth’s history. They have both been subjects of the museum’s MATRIX solo exhibition series: Andy Warhol / MATRIX 50 (1979) featured the Still Life (Hammer and Sickle) paintings of 1976 and Robert Mapplethorpe / MATRIX 80 (1984)—curated by former Wadsworth curator and Mapplethorpe’s lover Sam Wagstaff—presented 20 gelatin silver prints and photogravures of “Flowers” (1983). The Wadsworth also participated in the much publicized and controversial touring exhibition, Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment (1989). In 1999, the museum organized the exhibition, About Face: Andy Warhol Portraits, which traveled to the Miami Art Museum in 2000.
Patricia Hickson, Emily Hall Tremaine Curator of Contemporary Art, organized the exhibition.