Another Freak-Show Big-Money Art Auction: Warhol’s “Double Elvis” Brings $37 Million

Another Freak-Show Big-Money Art Auction: Warhol’s “Double Elvis” Brings

An iconic portrait of Elvis Presley by pop artist Andy Warhol went for $37 Million when it hit the auction block tonight at Sotheby’s. The life-size 1963 silkscreen ink and spray paint piece, Double Elvis (Ferus Type), epitomizes Warhol’s obsessions with fame, stardom and the public image, according to Sotheby’s. Previously estimated to sell for $30 million to $50 million, it was included in the auction house’s May 9th sale of post-war and contemporary art. Art auctions have turned into freak-show casinos, spectacles where the uber-rich can act out as much in public as possible, trying to buy immortality, become a part of art history, make headlines and create big profits. They are despicable for what they do to art, for the bad magic of making mysteriously powerful things turn into numbers.

The silver background of Double Elvis (Ferus Type), along with the subtle variations in tone is said to give the serial imagery a sense of rhythmic variation that recalls the artist’s masterpiece, 200 One Dollar Bills, completed the previous year. That work soared to nearly $44 million or four times its estimate in 2009 and achieved the highest price of any work at the fall auctions. But it was a work from Warhol’s Death and Disaster series that set the artist’s record, which still stands. Green Car Crash (Green Car Burning), also from 1963, more than doubled its estimate and sold for $71.7 million in 2007, at the height of the art market boom.

In the Double Elvis work, Presley is dressed as a cowboy, shooting a gun. Sotheby’s describes him in the work as “a Hollywood icon of the sixties rather than the rebellious singer who shook the world of music in the sixties.” The double in the title refers to a shadowy image of Presley in the same pose that appears next to him in the work.

Bob Dylan Holding “Double Elvis” at The Factory, NYC, 1965

On an eagerly-awaited visit to The Factory in 1965 for one of Warhol’s “Screen Test” sessions, Bob Dylan and his crew, along with their host Andy Warhol, were photographed on the set. At the session, Andy gave Dylan a great double image of Elvis. Dylan departed, having tied the Elvis image to the top of his station wagon, like a deer poached out of season. Much later, Dylan said that he’d traded the “Double Elvis” (now worth millions) to his manager for a couch!

Bob Dylan’s Screen Test, The Factory, NYC, 1965

Andy Warhol’s “Double Elvis (Ferus Type)” at May 9th Sotheby’s Auction

Andy Warhol’s Pop Art: A Documentary (2000)

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was a leading figure in the visual pop art movement. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement. He worked in a range of media, including painting, printmaking, sculpture, film and music. He founded Interview Magazine and was the author of numerous books, including The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and Popism: The Warhol Sixties. Andy Warhol is also notable as a gay man who lived openly as such before the gay liberation movement. His studio in New York City, The Factory, was a famous gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy patrons.

Andy Warhol’s Pop Art: A Documentary (2000)

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Obama Publicly Endorses Gay Marriage, Says Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Legal

Obama Publicly Endorses Gay Marriage, Says Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Legal

On Wednesday, President Obama ended the nearly two years of his “evolving” on the issue of same-sex marriage, publicly endorsing it in a television interview and taking a definitive stand on one of the most politically charged social issues of the day.

At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Mr. Obama said in an interview that came after the president faced mounting pressure to clarify his position.

Public support for same-sex marriage is growing at a pace that surprises even professional pollsters, as older generations of voters who tend to be strongly opposed are supplanted by younger ones who are just as strongly in favor. Same-sex couples are featured in some of the most popular shows on television, without controversy.

Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, called the president’s statement “a watershed moment in American history” that would aid efforts to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York said, “No American president has ever supported a major expansion of civil rights that has not ultimately been adopted by the American people, and I have no doubt that this will be no exception.”

Chad Griffin, incoming President of the Human Rights Campaign, said that, “President Obama’s words today will be celebrated by generations to come. For the millions of young gay and lesbian Americans across this nation, President Obama’s words provide genuine hope that they will be the first generation to grow up with the freedom to fully pursue the American dream. Marriage, the promise of love, companionship, and family, is basic to the pursuit of that dream.”

Read more about President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage in the New York Times here.

Obama Publicly Endorses Gay Marriage, Says Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Legal

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