Warhol Mystery Revealed Alongside New Exhibit in Pittsburgh
Local artist Devan Shimoyama will debut his first museum exhibition at the Warhol just as Andy Warhol's formerly anonymous subjects in his "Ladies and Gentlemen" series are named, thanks to new research.
(left) Devan Shimoyama, Michael, 2018, Courtesy of Richard Gerrig, Timothy Peterson and the artist (right) Devan Shimoyama, Tasha, 2018, Courtesy of the artist
Andy Warhol maintained a degree of distance in his art-making process — and as a result, many of his works remain shrouded in a haze of mystery. One body of work, titled “Ladies and Gentlemen,” portrays an array of anonymous drag queens and transgender women of color.
These subjects are no longer nameless.
Thanks to research by the Andy Warhol Foundation in New York, the individuals portrayed in “Ladies and Gentlemen” now have names. Jessica Beck, Milton Fine curator of art at The Andy Warhol Museum, is pulling these works from The Warhol’s permanent collection to be shown again at the museum, where they’ll compliment a new exhibition from a local Pittsburgh artist, Devan Shimoyama.
During a studio visit in 2016, Beck saw something familiar in Shimoyama’s paintings. His most notable work carves a queer space into a typically hyper-masculine one — African American barbershops. The standalone subjects depicted display glittering hair, cry tears of swarovski crystals from eyes made from vintage earrings and sometimes sit alongside hands posed in feminine gestures.
“They’re either in the barbershop or they’re cutting their own hair at home. So it’s an idea about agency and control and strength,” Beck says. “The sequins and the Swarovski crystals and the sort of made-up idea of the bright palette color, and the sort of feminine body gestures in a lot of the paintings, that’s tied to drag culture.”
Devan Shimoyama | Photo by Joshua Franzos
Now, Shimoyama will debut his first museum exhibition, “Cry, Baby,” at The Warhol from Oct. 13, 2018 to March 17, 2019. His contemporary references to drag are mirrored in Warhol’s Ladies and Gentlemen paintings — a connection worth showing side by side at the museum.
“When I started planning the exhibition with Devan’s work, I thought about making a connection for the viewer to understand why Devan is having his first solo show at The Warhol and why it’s appropriate for our collection and also Warhol’s legacy,” Beck says. “I wanted to pair the Ladies and Gentlemen paintings in the permanent collection with this show, to let [viewers] know that Warhol actually worked on a number of drag queens and trans women in the 70’s.”
Shimoyama’s exhibition, “Cry, Baby,” will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with essays written by Beck, arts writer Alex Fialho, and poet Rickey Laurentiis. Emily Colucci, a freelance arts writer and independent curator, will host an interview with the artist.