Andy Warhol’s Double Elvis [Ferus Type] and Most Wanted Men, No. 11, John Joseph H., Jr., 1964 To Highlight Chistie’s Evening Sale Of Post-War And Contemporary Art

 

On May 17, Christie’s will offer Andy Warhol’s Double Elvis [Ferus Type], 1963 as a central highlight of its Evening Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art (estimate in the region of $30 million*). The silver Elvis paintings that Warhol made in the summer of 1963 are among the defining icons of his oeuvre. Representing the culmination of several series of celebrity portraits that Warhol made in the early 1960s, these definitive ‘icons of an icon’ rank amongst the most resonant and enduring pictorial statements of his art. Double Elvis pays tribute to a larger-than-life superstar whose international fame brought him the level of celebrity Warhol himself so coveted and admired. Double Elvis unites two of the most venerated men of modern times—the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and the Prince of Pop.christies_logo_black-hr_mdtv71b

Double Elvis [Ferus Type] will be offered alongside Warhol’s controversial Most Wanted Men, No. 11, John Joseph H., Jr., 1964, uniting two exceptional canvases that share in the artist’s obsession with American icons of all kinds.

Alex Rotter, Co-Chairman, Post-War and Contemporary Art, remarked: “The King of Rock’n’Roll and the career criminal – icons of icons. These two paintings are very memorable and early examples of Warhol’s profound understanding of fame. Both works, pure black silkscreen on silver and white backgrounds, are the best of Andy Warhol in one auction. We are thrilled to present them together in Christie’s New York sale of Post-War and Contemporary art.

Loic Gouzer, Co-Chairman, Post-War and Contemporary Art, remarked: “For Warhol, an artist who was obsessed with popular culture and fame, Elvis was a perfect subject. With its monumental size and its shimmering silver surface, this painting encapsulates the glamour and power of Rock and Roll as Warhol saw it. Coming from one of the most ground-breaking exhibitions ever staged for Warhol, this painting holds a paramount place within the pantheon of his celebrity portraits.

Andy Warhold_s Double Elvis [Ferus Type]

Andy Warhol’s Double Elvis [Ferus Type], 1963

Warhol’s Double Elvis does not portray Elvis the hip-shaking musician but rather Elvis the actor playing a role in the 1960 movie Flaming Star, a liberal-themed Western in which Presley plays Pacer Burton, a half-Kiowa youth torn between two cultures. The painting is a unique variation from a group of portraits of single and multiplied Elvises created especially for Warhol’s second solo exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles—the center of America’s entertainment industry. Of the twenty-two extant ‘Ferus Type’ Elvis works, eleven are in museum collections, including the canvas Bob Dylan insisted on taking in exchange for his presence in a Warhol film, now housed at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Double Elvis features two black screenprinted images of the King on a silver painted ground. A bold, high-contrast figure is accompanied by its ghostly duplicate, collapsing Warhol’s strategy of serialization into a single frame, while also providing an eerie reminder that Presley was a twin, his brother being lost at birth. When the crowd of cloned Elvises was shown at the Ferus Gallery, the paintings were both confrontational and an almost anonymous backdrop.

The Ferus Gallery’s director, Irving Blum, had tried to press on Warhol the idea of a mini-retrospective, writing, “your exhibition should be the most intense and far-reaching composite of past work, and the Elvis paintings should be shown in the rear of my gallery area.” Warhol, however, insisted on focusing on his new work and planned to utilize the gallery’s physical space as part of a highly conceptual installation. Before his arrival, Warhol instructed Blum to line the front room with his series of Elvis paintings and the back room with portraits of Elizabeth Taylor.

The repetition of the image created an impression of mass production that had rarely been seen before in an artistic context. The effect was of great interest to artists like Larry Bell, who wrote in response to the exhibition: “It is my opinion that Andy Warhol is an incredibly important artist; he has been able to take painting as we know it, and completely change the frame of reference of painting as we know it, and do it successfully in his own terms. These terms are also terms that we may not understand … In any event, nothing can take away from it the important changes that the work itself has made in the considerations of other artists.

Andy Warhol_s Most Wanted Men, No. 11, John Joseph H., Jr.

Andy Warhol’s Most Wanted Men, No. 11, John Joseph H., Jr.

Christie’s will also offer Andy Warhol’s Most Wanted Men, No. 11, John Joseph H., Jr., 1964 (estimate in the range of $30 million*) as a highlight of its May 17th Evening Sale. This diptych belongs to one of the artist’s controversial Most Wanted Men series, which was originally conceived as a monumental mural to celebrate the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and famously destroyed just a few days before the fair’s official opening. Later that year, Warhol made a series of nearly two dozen larger than life-size canvases featuring thirteen of these “most wanted” men, among them was the present work.

About Most Wanted, Gouzer remarked: “From the spotlight of Hollywood to the crackling flash light of a prison mug shot, these two works exemplify Warhol’s fascination with exploring life’s dichotomy. Throughout his career, Warhol exposed the tenuousness existing between fame and shame and between life and death one silkscreen at a time. It is a real privilege to be able to stage this Warholian collision between the light and glory of Double Elvis and the darkness and underground grit of the Most Wanted Men.

Rotter continued: “Despite its dark subject matter, Most Wanted Men No. 11, John Joseph H., Jr. fits perfectly within Andy Warhol’s Pop vernacular. Just as he did with his paintings of Elvis, Liz Taylor, Campbell’s Soup cans, and Coca-Cola bottles, Warhol set out to embrace the entire range of Americana. Thirty years later, the popularity of Television hits as America’s Most Wanted and the current trend for social media hashtags such ‘#hotfelon’ personified by Jeremy Meeks, this work demonstrates that the phenomenon which Warhol had identified is still alive and well. It is exceptionally rare that examples from this notorious series come to auction, and we expect that it will be met with enthusiasm across the collecting community. Continue reading

New York Spring/Summer 2016 Fashion Week Review: Betsey Johnson Forever!

Runway Images by Dan Lecca/Front Row/Backstage Images by The Billy Farrell Agency

American designer and renowned fashion icon, Betsey Johnson returned to New York Fashion Week on Friday, September 11th to present her Spring/Summer 2016 collection, entitled The Curious Case of Betsey Button was a retrospective commemorating Betsey’s 50 colorful years in the fashion industry.

Backstage at the Spring/Summer 2016 Fashion Show (Photo Credit: The Billy Farrell Agency)

Backstage at the Spring/Summer 2016 Fashion Show (Photo Credit: The Billy Farrell Agency)

The show which was held at The Arc, Skylight at Moynihan Station (a soul-sucking show space, if ever there is any), was divided into six defining moments in Betsey’s career and kicked off with Betsey’s signature prom princesses of the 2000’s, followed by the “flower power” of the late 80’s/early 90’s. Next came late 70’s punk, followed by the “trippy hippy” early 70’s Betsey Johnson for Alley Cat. Rounding out the decades were the mod mavens of 60’s Betsey Johnson for Paraphernalia. Narration from Betsey herself played over each defining era, for a real trip down memory lane.

I have long held the view that, much like Bob Mackie and a select few designers that have shown at NYFW over the years, Miss Johnson’s collections are generally above review. By her own admission, she is not out to change the world (too much) or find a cure for athlete’s foot. (She is, however, a staunch supporter for finding a cure for Breast Cancer.) She is about creating a balance: injecting fun into her life and work, while still taking it seriously, BUT not too serious. Hence the signature cartwheel and split at the end of her shows, the seemingly wild, all-over-the-place but cohesive sense that marks the collections. Above all, she’s an extraordinary woman. It’s no wonder then, that she is one of the legendary women to be featured in Timothy Greenfield-Sanders‘ latest “List” documentary, American Masters: The Women’s List, to air on PBS on September 25th.

Betsey Johnson. Credit: © Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Betsey Johnson is to be featured in Timothy Greenfield-Saunders‘ American Masters: The Women’s List, a documentary focusing on their individuals’ exceptional achievements, struggles and identities. All trailblazers in their respective fields, these women share their experiences struggling against discrimination and overcoming challenges to make their voices heard and their influence felt. Credit: © Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

The spring/summer 2016 collection, while mainly serving as a retrospective, had a lot going for it in the here and now. It was filled with ideas that would—and will– work for the season and beyond. Those strapless “prom princess” dresses were paired with long sleeve, street-ready metallic tops that a girl could wear with her skinny jeans and be on-trend. The Veronica Lake hair-dos was also an amazing addition to the overall looks. The second segment was made all the more delicious by the colorful corsets that circled the models’ waists.

In the “Mud Club” section, the standout piece was the red/black chevron pantsuit with a black leather bandeau top. Here, seeing nine (mostly blonde) models with semi-severe chignons, looking very much like Linda Evangelista in her 80’s prime, was a jolt but hey, it worked.

The fourth section was noteworthy for the scrimped, straight hair deftly reminiscent of the period. It was like watching (in a good way, of course) Square Pegs (starring a young Sarah Jessica Parker), a television sitcom from the 80’s. The standouts here were the fur-trimmed teacup print jacket (paired with the granny boots), the patchwork jacket with faux fur sleeves and the soft, draping long “Stevie Nicks” long-sleeve dress.

The iconic Max’s Kansas City was a nightclub and restaurant at 213 Park Avenue South, in New York City, which became a gathering spot for musicians, poets, artists and politicians (in essence, everyone who was anyone), in the 1960s and 1970s. It was opened by Mickey Ruskin (1933–1983) in December 1965. Max’s quickly became a hangout of choice for artists and sculptors of the New York School, like John Chamberlain, Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers, Larry Poons, Brice Marden, Bob Neuwirth, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Richard Serra, Philip Glass, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, René Ricard, Willem de Kooning, and Barnett Newman. It was also a favorite hangout of Andy Warhol and his entourage, who dominated the back room, including some of the women represented in this section. It also showed the wide range of style of the time, including the navy polka dot mini with a white Peter Pan collar. Stunning.

2015 marked a year long celebration for Johnson. In addition hitting her 50th year in the industry, Betsey was awarded the CFDA Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. The party will continue into Holiday 2015 as Johnson releases a limited edition 50th Anniversary Collection which includes dresses, activewear, handbags, shoes, jewelry all in a signature Betsey Johnson print. Continue reading