Andy Warhol’s Love, Sex, and Desire line drawings collected in new book

The 300 rare and risqué sketches celebrate male beauty and reveal much about the artist’s sensibilities as he began to break away from his career as a commercial illustrator.

3 November 2020

Andy Warhol was enjoying a successful career as a commercial illustrator in New York when he exhibited some of his personal work at the Upper East Side’s Bodley Gallery in 1956. Drawn from life, these sketches were pared back yet confident in their line work, and revealing for both artist and subject in their nature, depicting male nudes in sexually charged portraits. Though Warhol believed these works to be his break into the city’s art scene and away from his commercial career, he underestimated the homophobia of the era, and the drawings were not published as a monograph as planned. Now Taschen is publishing a collection of 300 of these works – from around 1,000 from his catalogue – in a new book titled Andy Warhol, Love, Sex, and Desire: Drawings 1950-1962, hoping to realise the fledgling artist’s original intention.

Stylistically fairly far removed from the paintings Warhol is famous for, the sketches in fact show his artistic sensibility in its purest form, with a raw skill for simplicity in portraiture and composition. They also celebrate with unabashed joy his gay identity, portraying naked men in intimate and erotic poses, some of the ink sketches decorated with colourful hearts, butterflies and stars in the way an adoring fan might embellish photos of their idol. Some even hint to imagery he would become renowned for in the 60s, one image capturing a foot resting on a Campbell’s Soup can.

Michael Dayton Hermann from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, who chose the images and edited the book, writes in the introduction that Warhol captured the “intoxicating thrill of falling in love” in these drawings, and how it can feel in the most subtle of moments. “[If] you look around, you will witness this sublime emotion in the most ordinary expressions, from a caring glance between strangers to a gentle kiss shared by lovers. These simple moments, like some of those captured in Andy Warhol’s intimate drawings of men from the 1950s, remind us of the splendours life has to offer. A heart escaping from pursed lips, nude bodies sharing a rapturous embrace, or a lustful stare are just a few examples of the simple, whimsical, and affectionate moments Warhol captured in these drawings of love, sex, and desire.”

Alongside Hermann’s introduction, the book also features essays by Warhol biographer Blake Gopnik and art critic Drew Zeiba, and the works are accompanied by poems by James Baldwin, Thom Gunn, Harold Norse, Allen Ginsberg and Essex Hemphill.

Andy Warhol. Love, Sex, and Desire. Drawings 1950-1962 by Michael Dayton Hermann, Drew Zeiba and Blake Gopnik is out today, published by Taschen.

GalleryAndy Warhol, Love, Sex, and Desire: Drawings 1950-1962 (Courtesy of Taschen, 2020)

Hero Header

Andy Warhol, Love, Sex, and Desire: Drawings 1950-1962 (Courtesy of Taschen, 2020)

Share Article

Further Info

About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.