Stock up on local culture: Madison Hummer ’18 offers a monthly dose of art from around the block.
Renovations to the Wadsworth Atheneum allowed for the opening of a new exhibit called, “Warhol and Mapplethorpe: Guise & Dolls.” The exhibit is not just a serendipitous occurrence for lovers of the art world; it’s an absolute sensation. It is the first show to feature the artists together, displaying their portraits of one another.
Warhol and Mapplethorpe both offered invaluable explorations of gender identity through their artwork. The complementary subject matter intensifies their challenge of social norms, creating a thought-inducing environment for the viewer.
After an Italian art dealer privately commissioned 100 art pieces of men wearing unconvincing drag, Warhol was so intrigued by the topic that he continued to produce similar works by his own artistic volition. This phase in his artistic life is epitomized by Warhol’s ten polaroid portraits of “bad drag”. Mapplethorpe’s contrastingly illustrated examples of “good drag.” The contrast of the two examples of cross-dressing invites a discussion of gender perception. The pieces also reveal the subjects’ intimate struggle with identity and sexuality.
The eyes of Warhol and Mapplethorpe watch from their portraits, silently observing the reactions to their unadulterated confrontation of society. While the artists’ cross-dressing subjects are documented in heavy disguise, the drag queens seem to be more themselves in their frames than Warhol and Mapplethorpe.