19 November 2016 - 19 March 2017

Andy Warhol's 'Thirteen Most Beautiful Boys'

In the Adam Auditorium. 

American pop artist Andy Warhol was obsessed with celebrity, the common desire to be uncommon. Between 1964 and 1966, he regularly filmed visitors to his New York studio known as the Factory. Warhol would often turn on the camera and walk away, returning when the roll of film ran out after about three minutes. Around 500 screen tests or ‘living portraits’ were made in this fashion.

Some of the screen tests are labelled ‘13’, signalling their place in either The Thirteen Most Beautiful Boys or The Most Beautiful Women series. These series were fluid, open-ended¬ compilations—films of 35 boys and 47 women are marked in this way. Warhol would alter the selection according to who attended screenings, who he wanted to sell paintings to or who he wanted to add to his coterie of filmed beauties. The Thirteen Most Beautiful Boys started as a parody of an NYPD ‘Thirteen Most Wanted’ campaign, suggesting that beauty is the most desirable of all human attributes.

Here we present the first twelve screen tests Warhol made for The Thirteen Most Beautiful Boys. They are the first screen tests he ever made. Unlike the widely distributed and screened The Thirteen Most Beautiful Women, the strongly homoerotic The Thirteen Most Beautiful Boys immediately went underground and was restricted to private showings at the Factory. Warhol eventually abandoned the Beauties project as a beautiful but ultimately flawed idea:

I could never decide who should be in it. If everybody’s not a beauty, then nobody is, so I didn’t want to imply that the kids in The Beauties were beauties but the kids in my other movies weren’t so I had to back out on the basis of the title. It was all wrong.

From the collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh.

Please note the amended opening hours for this exhibition on the following dates: 

Monday 13-Friday 17 March, open 3pm - 5pm

Saturday 18 March, the exhibition will be closed all day

Sunday 19 March, open 10am-1.30pm