Sotheby’s to Auction Andy Warhol Portrait of Elvis Presley

| March 16, 2012 | 0 Comments

Sotheby’s New York Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 9 May 2012, will include Double Elvis [Ferus Type] by Andy Warhol, a painting that epitomizes the artist’s obsessions with fame, stardom, and the public image. The 1963 work is a seminal piece from the iconic series devoted to the singer and actor that was first seen at the Ferus gallery in Los Angeles that same year. It is estimated to fetch $30/50 million and will be exhibited in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and London prior to the sale.

The celebrities of Warhol’s portraits – Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, and Elvis Presley among others – were presented as glamorous and powerful icons whose image was imprinted on the public consciousness. 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. Warhol’s signature style, coupled with the instantly recognizable faces of his subjects creates a blurred boundary between artist and sitter. Of the 22 works in the Elvis series, nine are in museum collections with others in highly distinguished collections and this is the first Double Elvis to appear on the market since 1995. Famously Bob Dylan visited the Ferus gallery exhibition and was photographed with this Elvis in the studio.

In Double Elvis [Ferus Type] we are presented with a Hollywood icon of the sixties rather than the rebellious singer who shook the world of music in the fifties. Presley is seen as a cowboy, armed and shooting from the hip. With pouting lips and hooded eyes this Elvis is the perfect male counterpart to Warhol’s feminine and glamorous portraits of Marilyn Monroe. As a musician, Presley was an individual who defied the conventions of white, middle-class American music. By contrast, Presley the movie star was a manufactured icon like the female subjects so recognizable in Warhol’s portraits.

Double Elvis [Ferus Type] was first exhibited at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in the fall of 1963. Like the Campbell’s Soup Can exhibition at the same gallery the previous year, this show was built around a single, unified theme. The paintings were to be displayed as a ‘continuous surround,’ encircling the gallery like flickering pictures reminiscent of early film. Indeed, the serial imagery seen in works from the Elvis series adds a sense of motion, giving a cinematic quality to the paintings. This, coupled with his experimentation with film mark a turning point in Warhol’s career, where he made a transition from a viewer of movies to a maker of them and truly became a star in his own right.

Category: Fine Art

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