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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Never Before Seen Photographs of the Young Andy Warhol

Warhol Behind His Marilyn Print

Warhol Editing Film at The Factory in NYC

Warhol Filming at The Factory with His Assistant, Gerard Malanga

Warhol With All-American Faces

Never Before Seen Photographs of the Young Andy Warhol

Before They Were Famous: Behind The Lens of William John Kennedy is an extraordinary collection of images by the photographer William John Kennedy, which is currently on exhibition at the new gallery Site/109 in New York City. The collection presents a number of never-before-seen photographs of Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana, among them Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe and Indiana’s LOVE, taken by Mr. Kennedy in the mid-60’s when they were both just emerging American artists.

The fact that these early images of the two iconic American artists happened isn’t necessarily the exciting part. It’s that the amazingly early, naïve portraits of the artists with their own works were created before they were famous. These early images sat untouched for over 50 years, until Kennedy uncovered them within his archives and decided it was time to finally print this project.

Full Circle: Before They Were Famous

William John Kennedy’s Photographs of Andy Warhol

Photo-Gallery: Before He Was Famous: Andy Warhol

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Andy Warhol’s Cowboy “Double Elvis” Could Bring $50 Million at Auction

Andy Warhol’s Cowboy “Double Elvis (Ferus Type)” Could Bring $50 Million at Auction

An iconic portrait of Elvis Presley by pop artist Andy Warhol is poised to go for as much as $50 million when it hits the auction block in May at Sotheby’s. The life-size 1963 painting, Double Elvis (Ferus Type), epitomizes Warhol’s obsessions with fame, stardom and the public image, according to Sotheby’s. Estimated to sell for $30 million to $50 million, it will be included in the auction house’s May 9th sale of post-war and contemporary art.

The silver background of Double Elvis (Ferus Type), along with the subtle variations in tone 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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Sexy Screen Tests: A Big Cock and Hot Chicks

Sexy Screen Tests: A Big Cock and Hot Chicks

In film director Aaron Rose’s Warhol-inspired and farmyard-centric Chicken Screen Tests, a collection of exquisite California chicks and a charismatic duck mug for the camera, all the while posing for their portraits to the music of Dean and Britta’s cover of Bob Dylan’s I’ll Keep It With Mine. Rose’s bewildering chicken screen tests were shot with 16mm film in line with the standard formula of Andy Warhol’s 1960s Factory Screen Tests, with the finely feathered thespians obtained from a farm in San Pedro.

Aaron Rose: Chicken Screen Tests

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Series of Photographic Portraits: A Century of Photographs

August Sander, Jungbauern, Westerwald, 1914

Helmar Lerski, Everyday Heads, 1931

Heinrich Riebesehl, People in an Elevator, 1969

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait in Drag (Reddish-Brown Wig, Plaid Tie), 1981/82

Michael Schmidt, Aus der 81-Teiligen Serie Frauen, 1997-1999

Judith Joy Ross, Protesting the U. S. War in Iraq, 2007

Series of Photographic Portraits: A Century of Photographs

Series of Portraits: A Century of Photographs is an exhibtion of 20th century portrait photography, which is presently on display at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg. Portraiture is one of the traditional genres in art and was a driving force behind the invention of photography in the 19th century. Portrait photography continually redefines itself, between dissolution of the traditional concept of the subject in the masses, toward the pursuit of individuality and identity. The image of the human being is subject to constant change, which is also reflected in photography, sometimes with spectacular results.

Photo-Gallery: Series of Portraits/A Century of Photographs

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David LaChapelle: The Fellini of Photography Returns to Fine Art

David LaChapelle: Flowers, Early Fall

David LaChapelle: Pieta With Courtney Love, 2006

David LaChapelle: Christina Aguilera

David LaChapelle: Eminem

David LaChapelle: Amanda Lepore, Breast-Feeding

David LaChapelle: Madonna

David LaChapelle: David Beckham

David LaChapelle: The Fellini of Photography Returns to Fine Art

During the course of his artistic career, David LaChapelle was hired by Andy Warhol, fired by Madonna, photographed Pamela Anderson, Lady Gaga, and Hillary Clinton, and made a star of the transgender personality Amanda Lepore. He earned millions and spent much of that on his self-financed movie about an urban dance form created in the rough neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles. When the film, Rize, failed to attract a large audience, the weary LaChapelle packed up his career and disappeared.

Now, LaChapelle is back in New York briefly, overseeing his one-man show at a Madison Avenue art gallery and a separate commissioned installation that is opening in the lobby of the Lever House on Park Avenue. With their erotic gloss, their sizzling aesthetics and their slick production values, the photographs at Michelman Fine Art are recognizably the work of a man who in his editorial work for Vanity Fair, Interview, Rolling Stone and others photographed David Duchovny dressed in Lycra bondage trousers, Kanye West as Black Jesus, a turbaned Elizabeth Taylor looking like a $5 fortune teller, Eminem naked but for a well-placed prop and other stars like Tupac Shakur (wearing soap bubbles), Angelina Jolie and Lady Gaga baring their souls for the camera, along with a good deal more.

At the Lever House, however, the artist has returned to techniques he employed when, at the very beginning of his career, long before he became the go-to video director for pop music divas, he used naïve, childlike forms like linked paper chains to make his work. In the space that in the past has presented exhibitions of works by artists such as Barbara Kruger and Damien Hirst, Mr. LaChapelle has hung the chains from walls and ceiling in looping festoons. At first glance, the stapled links only look like colorful decorations for a children’s party, but when viewed more closely they reveal images of naked bodies, as an allegory for human connection.

Viewers can read more about David LaChapelle’s return to the art scene in The New York Times here.

David LaChapelle: Elton John/Candle in the Wind (Marilyn)

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/12216162 w=720&h=460]

David LaChapelle: Elton John/Philadelphia Freedom

Photo-Gallery: David LaChapelle/The Fellini of Photography Returns to Fine Art

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Warhol’s Iconic Liz Taylor Portrait Gets $27 Million at Auction

Warhol’s Iconic Liz Taylor Portrait Gets $27 Million at Auction

Christie’s sale of contemporary art last night was a welcome, if theatrical, relief to many in the art world. The event exceeded expectations, with a total sale of $301.7 million. The highlight of the evening was the sale of Andy Warhol’s 1963-1964 self-portrait, a 16-minute ordeal between two bidders. The final winner paid $38.45 Million, which beat the previous record of $32.56 million for a self-portrait by Warhol, which was set in May 2010.

Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen put his iconic 1963 Andy Warhol silkscreen portrait of Elizabeth Taylor on the block at Phillips de Pury’s Manhattan auction house on May 12, 2011, with two telephone bidders vying for the work that ultimately sold for $27 Million.

Liz #5 (1963) has been described as is a rare and exquisite example of the world renowned images of feminine grace that catapulted Warhol to prominence nearly 50 years ago. This glamorous portrait of the legendary actress, Elizabeth Taylor, embodies the most important themes of Warhol’s body of work, including his fascination with celebrity, real-life drama and the fleeting nature of beauty. One of the artist’s most instantly recognized images, Liz #5 is said to be a testament to Warhol’s unique and unrivaled contribution to the visual arts. Liz #5 was created at the height of the Taylor’s fame, which also coincided with the most significant and creative period of Warhol’s career. The epitome of old-world Hollywood style and glamour, Elizabeth Taylor, who died on March 23rd, was one of Warhol’s most famous inspirations, along with Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy.

Taylor captured Warhol’s attention early on with her life’s high-profile romances and tragedy, a vibrancy and pathos that so attracted Warhol to her and ensured she was a formidable influence on his work throughout his career. It has been said that the power of her attraction has never been as evident as it is in this Warhol painting, which is a dazzling tribute to Elizabeth Taylor. This striking portrait is a testament to the legend and beauty of one of the world’s most beloved and iconic actresses, both capturing her very essence and transcending the limits of time.

Warhol’s 1962 Elizabeth Taylor work, Men in Her Life, went for $63.3 Million, the highest auction price paid in 2010 for a contemporary artwork and the second-highest auction price ever paid for a Warhol painting, behind the $71.7 Million paid in 2007 for his 1963 Green Car Crash, Green Burning Car I. In 2009, Andy Warhol’s 1962 silk-screen painting 200 One Dollar Bills sold for $43.8 Million at Sotheby’s, more than four times its estimated selling price. Unfortunately, Warhol wasn’t around to enjoy the fabulous joke of his pictures of money grabbing so much money. The seven-and-a-half-foot-wide canvas, one of Warhol’s first silk-screen paintings, looks like just what you’d think: 200 one-dollar bills. Yes, if you just take a wide look at today’s contemporary art world, that confection of bucks, puff and street smarts, you realize anew that Andy Warhol was the big daddy of it all!!

Warhol’s Liz#5 Gets $26,962,500 Million at Auction

Remembering Elizabeth Taylor: Legendary Actress, Pioneering Activist and Humanitarian

Elizabeth Taylor, the queen of American motion picture stardom, who enthralled generations of moviegoers with her stunning beauty and whose name was synonymous with Hollywood glamour, died on Wednesday in Los Angeles at the age of 79.

During a theatrical career that spanned six decades and more than 50 films, the legendary beauty won two Academy Awards as best actress, for her performances as a call girl in BUtterfield 8 (1960) and as the acid-tongued Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Long after she faded from the motion picture screen, Taylor remained a mesmerizing figure, both blessed and cursed by the extraordinary celebrity that shaped her life through its many phases. She was a child star who bloomed gracefully into an ingenue; a femme fatale both on the screen and in real life; a shrewd entrepreneur of high-priced perfume; and a pioneering activist in the fight against AIDS.

Some actresses, such as Katharine Hepburn and Ingrid Bergman, may have won more awards and critical praise, but none matched Taylor’s hold on the collective imagination. In the public’s mind, she was the dark goddess for whom playing Cleopatra with such notoriety, required no great leap from reality.

Taylor had many gay friends and, as the AIDS epidemic mushroomed, some of them were dying. In 1985, she became the most prominent celebrity to back what was then a most unfashionable cause. She agreed to chair the first major AIDS benefit, a fundraising dinner for the nonprofit AIDS Project Los Angeles. Taylor began calling her A-list friends to enlist their support, but many of Hollywood’s biggest stars turned her down. Undaunted, Taylor redoubled her efforts, aided along the way by the stunning announcement that Rock Hudson, the handsome matinee idol and her co-star in Giant, had the dreaded disease. She stood by Hudson, just as years later she would stand by pop-idol Michael Jackson during the latter’s struggle to defend himself against child abuse allegations.

Thanks to Taylor’s high profile and public sympathy for Hudson, the star-studded AIDS fundraiser netted $1 Million and attracted 2,500 guests, including former First Lady Betty Ford. Hudson was too ill to attend, but he used the occasion to release a major public statement about his illness. Randy Shilts, who wrote the pioneering AIDS chronicle And the Band Played On, said Taylor made a profound difference. Shilts said that Taylor’s advocacy,”made the disease something that respectable people could talk about.”

Taylor went on to co-found the first national organization devoted to backing AIDS research, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, or AmFAR. In 1991 she formed the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which directly supports AIDS education and patient care. She publicly denounced President George H.W. Bush, accusing him of inaction on AIDS. Taylor’s AIDS work brought her the Legion of Honor in 1987, France’s highest civilian award, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ awarded her The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993. In 2000, Queen Elizabeth made her a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, an honor on the level of knighthood. Through her various efforts she would eventually raise more than $270 Million for AIDS research, prevention and care.

Read more detailed biographical information in The New York Times and in The Los Angeles Times.

View photo-galleries in The New York Times here and here.

Remembering Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor Tribute by Paul Newman

Slide Show: Remembering Elizabeth Taylor

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