A Pop Classic: Andy Warhol

A highly influential and coveted American artist will soon have one of their stunningly sexy, cool and iconic works available for purchase

By Marcos Colón


 The sense of recovery is expressed in the portrait through the responsive colors that Warhol applied, such as the blasé turquoise background that intensifies the Dame’s eye shadow and the blood-red lips which make the image ‘Pop.’

Not only celebrated for his artwork, Andy Warhol is also known for his quotes. There’s the well-known comment about everyone in the future being famous for fifteen minutes and then there’s the one on how being born is like being kidnapped. However, a unique quote paid tribute to one of his muses: “It would be very glamorous to be reincarnated as a great big ring on Liz Taylor’s finger.”

On Tuesday, November 13, one of Warhol’s celebrated pieces will find its way into Christie’s New York for the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale. Seeing as no artist jumps to mind quicker than Andy Warhol when one mentions contemporary art, it is fitting that the turquoise-colored Liz (Colored Liz) is leading the auction. The portrait, one of the most symbolic of the 20th century, is offered by a private collector (rumored to be actor Hugh Grant) and is expected to grab upwards of $25 million. Liz represented what Warhol craved at the time, a larger-than-life figure who achieved untold levels of stardom.

Grant, who’s said to have purchased the portrait in 2001 at Sotheby’s New York for $3.5 million, is forecasted to receive anywhere from $25 to $35 million, a figure more than seven times his original investment.

The buyer of Liz this year may be making an investment themselves. Warhol is at the forefront of artists in sales of our time. No less than 43 of his paintings sold for more than $1 million, a statistic that surpasses Picasso sales. In the future the painting could go for more as sales depend on the artist’s inflation and the rising demand by art collectors.

The portrait, part of a series that credited Warhol with starting the ‘Pop Art’ movement, was completed in the 1960s when Warhol had a near-addiction with Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, and Jackie Kennedy, his three muses of the time. His infatuation with the women drove him to create some of his finest work as he fanatically painted them near countless times.

Warhol is known for producing his work during a time of death and disaster for his subjects. He chose to work on Monroe’s portraits shortly after her suicide and on Kennedy’s after the assassination of her husband. Through the portraits Warhol wanted to convey the darker experiences of the starlets as opposed to the glitz and glamour that was primarily displayed. However, Liz takes a different position as it depicts Dame Elizabeth’s recovery from an illness that many believed she would not survive.

After completing the work, Warhol recounted, “I started those a long time ago when she was so sick and everybody said she was going to die. Now I am doing them all over, putting bright colors on her lips and eyes.” The sense of recovery is expressed in the portrait through the responsive colors that Warhol applied, such as the blasé turquoise background that intensifies the Dame’s eye shadow and the blood-red lips which make the image ‘Pop.’

Warhol’s work was primarily centered on American Pop Culture. Many of his paintings featured celebrities and brand name products which would become part of his palette. These would be hand painted with paint drips that would mimic the style of abstract expressionists. Nick-named the ‘Pope of Pop,’ Warhol once said, “Once you ‘got’ Pop, you could never see a sign the same way again. And once you thought Pop, you could never see America the same way again.”

This is not the first time that Elizabeth has been involved with Christie’s. In 2006, the activist, humanitarian and star of more than 50 films, selected the firm as the auction house of record because of its honorability and success; in 2006 alone, Christie’s auction sales totaled $4.67 billion.

Christie’s is also no stranger to Warhol’s work. Out of the ten most expensive Warhol paintings sold at auction, eight were handled by Christie’s, collecting a total of $187 million. On May 16 the firm established a new world auction record for the artist as Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I) sold for $71.7 million, a number that more than quadrupled the previous record set by Mao in November 2006 which sold for $17.4 million. There will definitely be no surprise if Liz (Colored Liz) surpasses the $25 million estimate.

Viewings of the spectacular portrait will take place in Christie’s salesrooms in London, Hong Kong, Moscow, Los Angeles and New York in October and November, and the auction will be at the New York locale November 13 at 7 p.m.