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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Warhol’s Iconic Liz Taylor Portrait Could Draw $30M at May Auction

Warhol’s Iconic Liz Taylor Portrait Could Draw $30M at May Auction

The iconic 1963 Andy Warhol silkscreen portrait of legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor will be auctioned on May 12, 2011 at Phillips de Pury’s Manhattan gallery and is expected to sell for $20 Million to $30 Million. Liz #5 has been described as a pristine gem, a work by Warhol at his very best.

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 glamorous portrait embodies the most important themes of Warhol’s body of work, which include celebrity, wealth, scandal, sex, death and Hollywood. 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.

Warhol’s Liz#5 to Sell 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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The Passionate Eye of Claude Azoulay: Legendary Portraits of Our Times

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Cannes, 1971

Jane Fonda, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1966

Marilyn Monroe and Jerry Strasberg (The Actor’s Studio), New York, 1961

President John F. Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle, Paris, 1961

Ray Charles, Paris, 1961

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Paris, 1963

Bob Dylan, Paris, 1966

Andy Warhol, Paris, 1977

The Passionate Eye of Claude Azoulay: Legendary Portraits of Our Times

Photography by:  Claude Azoulay, Paris, France

Leaving school at the time of post-World War II, an era when France was being rebuilt and when everything seemed possible, Claude Azoulay began working at France’s Paris-Match magazine in 1954.  Having covered the Algerian war, the Six-Day War and many others, his career followed some of the most dramatic events during the second-half of the twentieth century.  In addition, his photo-journalism work took him on travels to Saint-Tropez and Cannes, as well as to the major studios and movie sets in London and Hollywood.  Azoulay served as an exemplary part of the of great photo-journalism staff at Paris-Match for more than forty years, departing in 1996 to seek other adventures in the world.

Looking through a list of Azoulay’s photographic portraits made of stars and other celebrity figures is akin to opening an encyclopedia of film.  Azoulay photographed everything that he could; his portraits of celebrities are so alive and include brilliant images of Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Elizabeth Taylor, Faye Dunaway, Barbara Streisand, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Kirk Douglas, Jane Fonda, Francis Bacon, Peter O’Toole, John Wayne, François Mitterand and countless others.  He did not steal their images; rather, they lent him their souls in an attentive and caring mirror.  And thus his body of work has become an important portrait of our time.

Juliette Greco, Jean Seberg, Deborah Kerr and David Niven, Paris, 1957

Slide Show: The Passionate Eye of Claude Azoulay/Legendary Portraits of Our Times

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Richard Avedon: Deconstructing the Personality to Burnish the Legend

Richard Avedon: Deconstructing the Personality to Burnish the Legend

Portraits to Confirm and Confer Identity

For more than fifty years, Richard Avedon’s portraits filled the pages of the country’s finest magazines. His stark imagery and brilliant insight into his subjects’ characters made him one of the premier American portrait photographers. Born in New York City in 1923, Richard Avedon dropped out of high school and joined the Merchant Marine’s photographic section. Upon his return in 1944, he found a job as a photographer in a department store. Within two years he had been “found” by an art director at Harper’s Bazaar and was producing work for them as well as Vogue, Look, and a number of other magazines.

During the early years, Avedon made his living primarily through work in advertising. His real passion, however, was the portrait and its ability to express the essence of its subject. As Avedon’s notoriety grew, so did the opportunities to photograph celebrities from a broad range of disciplines. Avedon’s ability to present personal views of public figures, who were usually distant and inaccessible, was immediately recognized by the public and the celebrities themselves.

Many sought out Avedon for their most public images. While many photographers are interested in either catching a moment in time or preparing a formal image, Avedon found a way to do both. In 1994, the Whitney Museum brought together fifty years of his work in the retrospective, Richard Avedon: Evidence. In 1989, Avedon received an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art in London.

Avedon’s Studio: A Dramatic Arena

Avedon’s studio was in a converted stable-house on New York’s East 75th Street. Once entering the house, you walked into a lobby whose brick walls were lined with Avedon’s legendary images of Marilyn Monroe and a large print of the model Dovima in a black-and-white Dior evening gown, her long arms stretched between the long trunk of one elephant and the floppy ear of another. You continued past a kitchen galley, down a few steps to a dressing room, and then down a few more steps, past a small room with desks and a light box, through a doorway, and finally into a white space that was repainted for every sitting.

This white space was like a stage, lit by a simple key light, with stretched white cloth behind it. The shift from the reception commotion to the studio quiet, from the real world to a play one, was abrupt and dramatic. Avedon referred to it as his set; in fact it was an arena that put anyone who stepped into it immediately on show. The white floor separated the subject from the unpainted rest of the cavernous space, as well as from the workers who occupied it (Avedon and his three assistants). The arrangement inspired a drama on both sides of the camera: between acting and being seen.

The encounter, like the setting, raised the stakes of play. The game was hide-and-seek, and it was exhilarating and scary. What would Avedon see? Or see through? For each subject, the arrangement created a kind of immanence, a palpable internal demand; the subject had to do something, to be someone. The negotiation of identity was a simulacrum of life. Here in the studio, the subject was called on to improvise; whether professional showman or novice, they had either to mask or to pronounce themselves. From Avedon’s perspective, all choices were telling. His task was to encourage, interpret, re-stage and retouch the portraits in order to confirm and confer identity.

The desire to be properly seen was one of the reasons that, for decades, the performing legends of the Western world paraded through Avedon’s studio door. Many of them could understand their own talent, but they couldn’t grasp what it was in them that attracted the public so powerfully. “They don’t always know what they’re showing,” Avedon once said. “I never quite understood it, this sex symbol,” Monroe said of herself. In his portraits of her, Avedon captured that sense of confusion about her charisma, which she was able to control in front of a camera, but which she imperfectly understood.

Whether Avedon was mourning his father in a series of harrowing death-bed portraits, capturing dramatic portraits of renowned celebrities or exploring the burned-out faces of Utah drifters, within the camera’s vigilant focus the position of a head, a hand, or a lidded eye assumed the significance of a symbol. These studies have a dark glamor. The glamor of Avedon’s portraits, the arrangement of balance of line, texture, figure, and shadows within the frame, speaks with an uncanny, heartbreaking eloquence.

Richard Avedon: The Photography of Minimal Essentialism

Richard Avedon: Portraits of Crisis and Power

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Andy Warhol’s “Liz” sells for $23.7 Million

Andy Warhol’s turquoise-background Elizabeth Taylor portrait sold for $23.7 Million Tuesday at Christie’s auction house. An anonymous bidder bought the portrait, “Liz (Colored Liz),” from a private collector. The 40-by-40-inch portrait is part of a series that Warhol created in the 1960s of his many muses, including Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy.

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