Warholia

by James Kirchick | October 31, 2007

I don't know how many pictures of Liz Taylor Andy Warhol actually did.  But -excepting the mass produced lithographs and prints--there maybe as much as a zillion out there.  OK, not quite.  Maybe it's a thousand.  Or a hundred.  Still, the one "stamped with the artist's signature 'Andy Warhol' (on the overlap) synthetic polymer, silkscreen inks and acrylic on linen, 40 x 40 in. (101.6 x 101.6 cm.)" that's up for auction at Chrisie's New York two weeks from tonight is expected to fetch
anywhere from $25,000,000-$35,000,000, plus a buyer's commission of 25% on the first $20,000, 20% on the next $480,000 and 12% on the rest.  Oh, yes, also the New York State Sales Tax of 8% (I think).

Liz was extraordinarily beautiful, from when she was very young in "National Velvet" up to the last time I saw her which was maybe 15 years ago at a friend's birthday in L.A.  She must also have been stunning when, while dancing with her, I tripped and broke my ankle.  But Warhol had the knack for making her wan and plain, her eyes in hospital green rather than sapphire blue, her face flat as a pancake.  That's how Warhol did faces, which is why his Liz looks very much like his Mao which is not so far from his Lenin which is not so far from his Campbell's pepper pot soup.

Some day some one will explain to us how these ugly images fetched millions and millions of dollars to decorate the homes of zillionaires.  And explain also why these people loaded down with cash would spend from $3.5 to $4.5 million for a depiction of a sloppily smeared-on hammer and sickle.  What irony is there here?

You can see the Liz in the Christie's catalogue on-line.

And maybe you can also visit with Jeff Koon's "Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold)" in Sotheby's catalogue for November 14.  It would be a truly ugly piece even if it were hanging overhead at Bloomingdale's at 106 x 85 x 40 in.  A transparent red heart with a gold ribbon on top.  But it's cheap: apt to fetch from only $15,000,000 to $20,000,000, plus the conventional additions.  On the other hand, there are five versions.  For Valentine's day, says the artist.  "Hanging Heart is a symbol both romantic and sexual, but spiritual at the same time."  Now, just how spiritual is this hanging heart?  Or for that matter how romantic or sexual?


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