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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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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A Perfectly Still Moment: The Eternal Sands of Time

A Perfectly Still Moment: The Eternal Sands of Time

Photography by:  Christian Chaize

The Eternal Sands of Time is a wonderfully elegant photograph by Christian Chaize, a renowned photographer based in Lyons, France.  Christian Chaize has really mastered the art of capturing magical still-life portraits of subdued dramas in the details of everyday life.  The subtleties of this stunning black and white photograph, its exquisitely marvelous sense of texture and shading, the wonderful use of delicate tone, the mix of quiet peacefulness with a subdued sense of pathos.  There’s just so much to see here, so much to love.  Amazing.  Perfect.

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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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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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Queen Elizabeth by Annie Leibovitz

Queen Elizabeth: Photography by Annie Leibovitz

This is the atmospheric picture of Queen Elizabeth taken by Annie Leibovitz in the opulent White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace.  The Queen’s pale gold brocade dress, white fur stole and magnificent collection of jewelery emphasize her status, the diamond tiara was a wedding present for her grandmother, Queen Mary, while her pearl drop earrings were given to Queen Victoria when she was 19.

The way in which she gazes wistfully out of the window across the palace gardens, however, hints at a gentler, more fallible side. That essence of humanity is emphasized by the atmospheric lighting and storm clouds gathering outside. Of her photograph, which was commissioned to mark the Queen’s upcoming six-day trip to the United States, Leibovitz stated, “I feel like it’s a documentation and I wanted to take a very simple portrait.”

London Times describes the portrait today:

“An almost ethereal figure, the Queen sits musing amid the sombre splendour of rooms. The mirrors and chandeliers, the patterned carpets and gleaming gilt cut a strong contrast to the natural parkland over which she gazes.

The simple rural pleasures and stately responsibilities of this woman are both represented in this image. A thundery sky casts a lowering light, which picks out a look of quiet determination and plays on the sparkle of jewels. But all around darker shadows seep. Leibovitz uses a Romantic cliché with dramatic effect to evoke the tempestuous times that the Queen has weathered.

But what is she thinking? It is the impenetrability of the sitter’s face that most strikes the viewer. This is a portrait which keeps the viewer at a formal distance.

The soul of this picture is the soul of tradition.”

Annie Leibovitz Taking the Portrait of Queen Elizabeth

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