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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Andy Warhol’s “Purple Fright Wig” Self-Portrait Sells for $32,562,500!!

Andy Warhol’s “Purple Fright Wig” Self-Portrait Sells for $32,562,500!!

On May 12th, a rare nine-foot-square self-portrait by Andy Warhol, his Purple-Hued Fright Wig painting, was offered for auction at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York City.  Warhol’s painting had an estimated value of $10,000,000—15,000,000, but after heated bidding the painting sold for $32,562,500.  The self-portrait had been put up for auction by the fashion designer Tom Ford, who acquired the acrylic and silkscreen ink work in 1998 from the estate of the artist.  Warhol’s iconic and rare self-portrait was executed in 1986, just prior to his unexpected death the following year.

From the young artist in the photo-booth and The Factory of the 1960s, to the art-world elder statesman contemplating his own mortality, Warhol’s self-portraits stand out as an unparalleled body of work.  Andy Warhol’s lifelong obsession with self-portraiture and mortality was enhanced by three dangerous encounters during the 1960s.  The most dangerous experience occurred on June 3, 1968 when the deranged Valerie Solanas entered The Factory and shot Warhol, who was gravely injured and lucky to have survived. The close encounter with death subsequently inspired the artist to produce numerous self-portraits, culminating in his fright-wig paintings.

Ford’s decision to sell his Warhol self-portrait came after auction houses had achieved astounding results with the artist’s works.  Warhol’s 1963 Green Car Crash went for $71.7 Million at Christie’s in 2007, and his 1962 silk-screen painting 200 One Dollar Bills sold for $43.8 Million at Sotheby’s in 2009.

Warhol’s Self-Portrait: The Purple-Hued Fright Wig Painting

Slide Show: Andy Warhol’s Self-Portraiture from the 1960s through the 1980s

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Warhol’s Self-Portrait: The Monumental Purple-Hued Fright Wig Painting

Warhol’s Self-Portrait: The Purple-Hued Fright Wig Painting

On May 12th, a rare nine-foot-square self-portrait by Andy Warhol, his Purple-Hued Fright Wig painting, will be offered for auction at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York City.  The self-portrait is currently owned by the fashion designer Tom Ford, who acquired the acrylic and silkscreen ink work in 1998 from the estate of the artist.  Warhol’s iconic and rare self-portrait was executed in 1986, just prior to his unexpected death the following year.

From the young artist in the photo-booth and The Factory of the 1960s, to the art-world elder statesman contemplating his own mortality, Warhol’s self-portraits stand out as an unparalleled body of work.  Andy Warhol’s lifelong obsession with self-portraiture and mortality was enhanced by three dangerous encounters during the 1960s.  The most dangerous experience occurred on June 3, 1968 when the deranged Valerie Solanas entered The Factory and shot Warhol, who was gravely injured and lucky to have survived.  The close encounter with death subsequently inspired the artist to produce numerous self-portraits, culminating in his fright-wig paintings.

Ford’s decision to sell his Warhol self-portrait comes after auction houses have achieved astounding results with the artist’s works.  Warhol’s 1963 Green Car Crash went for $71.7 Million at Christie’s in 2007, and his 1962 silk-screen painting 200 One Dollar Bills sold for $43.8 million at Sotheby’s in 2009.

Warhol’s Self-Portrait: The Purple-Hued Fright Wig Painting

Slide Show: Andy Warhol’s Self-Portraiture from the 1960s through the 1980s

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Up There: An Homage to Sky High Billboard Artists

Up There: An Homage to Sky High Billboard Artists

Up There is a remarkable short film by Malcolm Murray, a documentary about a group of billboard artists as they hand-painted renditions of each stage of a “nine-step” Belgian pouring ritual high up in the sky.  The film captures a bunch of men who aren’t used to being noticed, let alone recognized for their work, but thanks to Murray’s wonderful camera work, we’re able to get up close and personal with them without feeling like intruders in their space.

Scaling brownstones, tenement buildings and skyscrapers across New York City, these men are from a bygone era, relics left over from a different time and, for all intents and purposes, a different world.  This film, no matter what the pretense or who paid for it, pays homage to a dying art form.  Up There documents what could be the last days of a great American institution, and one of the last remnants of the old New York.

Up There: An Homage to Sky High Billboard Artists

The Ritual Project Time-Lapse : Three Weeks of Painting in 57 Seconds

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Giorgio Morandi’s Brownfields: The Artist as a Seductive Sneak

Giorgio Morandi’s Brownfields: The Artist as a Seductive Sneak

Art That Seems to Do Nothing

By the time Giorgio Morandi had really discovered himself as an artist at the age of thirty-two, his artistic universe was reduced to a handful of simple objects, primarily bottles, tins, jugs, vases, and a few bowls. When necessary, Morandi was perfectly content to make do with just two tins and a vase. He would arrange the three things and then paint them. Generally he stuck to a subdued, understated range of coloring: grays and beige, with an overall dominance of browns. Even when Morandi did use brighter colors they still seemed like brown dressed up in drag for the moment. His paintings do the opposite of pop art, the startling forms and bold colors of which fairly scream out at the viewer for attention. Morandi’s paintings, on the other hand, seethe beneath their outer bland, mundane veneer. They patiently wait for the viewer to come to them.

If Morandi painted his two tins and vase in an arrangement one day, the following day he would move the vase a few inches and then paint them afresh. These minute transformations amazed Morandi. He didn’t need anything more. The smallest change in the lighting, a subtle shift in direction, and his world of three things was forever fresh and new. By all rights, these should be some of the most boring paintings in history. Nothing happens in them. Morandi was happy to do as close to nothing as a painter can manage to do. He sat at his easel, year after year, shifting his two tins and the one damn vase, and then painting the scene in his own special vision of muted brownness.

Yet, these are extraordinarily beautiful and moving paintings. That’s the shock of it all. Viewing some of Morandi’s paintings in the current retrospective of Morandi’s work currently on exhibition at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, one is initially left feeling quite puzzled. One wonders about just how on earth did this homely and private Italian fellow managed to pull it off?

Morandi as a Sneaky and Seductive Liar

Some art critics have proposed that Morandi is exciting because he is both sneaky and a liar. He pretends that he’s just a modest man letting objects be objects and letting nature be nature. His pastels and repertoire of browns dull the senses and draw you into his seductive web, and once you’re in, Morandi has you. Once Morandi’s captured your attention, his seemingly dull paintings take you through a nearly infinite set of examples of how much control he exerted over the very objects that normally mark our limits as human beings. Every day we are impinged upon and forced to serve the mute indifference of things, the many parts of our world that seem out of our control.

Morandi reduced his artistic world down to just a few of those things, to the minimum. He eliminated the background and foreground. He shifted everything into a color spectrum of his own choosing. Things, objects, in his universe come to to play by his own rules. Thus Morandi’s obsessiveness demanded that objects conform to his vision, while still portraying them as real objects.

So he arranged his bottles and tins and vases in one way and then he arranged them in another. He painted them in the morning and the evening and at night. He observed them through shifts of light and color and position. And for 25 years Morandi painted canvas after canvas using the same handful of tins and bottles and vases, sometimes shifting their position no more than an inch or two. He painted his little vases and tins not as they are really found on an actual kitchen table, but as Morandi would have them be.

It is soothing and rapturous to stare at that painting, to know it exists, to realize that one man was so able to master the world immediately before him, calmly, surely, on his own terms and none other. So, in a sense, Morandi was another great egotist of 20th-century art. The modest scale and subject matter of his paintings tricks us into talking about Morandi as a painter of humility and small gestures. But that is wrong.

He chose his own field of battle, the kitchen table and the handful of small objects that he arranged and rearranged upon it, and he waged war on all those material things that resist our attempts to understand them. We may never understand them, say Morandi’s paintings, but we are able to make of them something that is grand, something brown and something completely our own.

Brownfields: The Artist as a Seductive Sneak

Thanks to: 3 Quarks Daily

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Heath Ledger Portrait Wins 2008 Archibald Prize in Australia

Heath Ledger Portrait: The 2008 Archibald Prize

On Thursday, this portrait of a brooding Heath Ledger, which was painted shortly before the Australian actor died in January, was voted the most popular painting in the 2008 Archibald Prize competition.  The Archibald Prize is Australia’s top art prize for portraiture. Ledger posed for the portrait in December at Ledger’s family home in Perth, Australia.

Ledger, who was best known for his role as a conflicted gay cowboy in the 2005 movie Brokeback Mountain, died at the age of 28 in New York on January 22, 2008.  Artist Vincent Fantauzzo, 29, had been friends with Ledger for many years.

The portrait features a bare-chested Ledger against a black background, looking straight out of the canvas with two other images of the actor at the sides whispering into his ears.  Fantauzzo refused offers to sell the painting and said that he had spoken to Ledger’s family, who requested that the portrait be donated to the New South Wales Gallery in Sydney, Australia.

Remembering Heath Ledger (1979-2008)

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