This season's New York auction marathon came to a close this week with Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale. Among the items Andy Warhol's 1963 'Elvis' sold for US$21,581,000. Not bad for a single Elvis screen-print!
Andy Warhol is no doubt the star of this season's New York contemporary art sales, with his US$195 million Shot Sage Blue Marilyn becoming the second most expensive painting in auction history.
Besides Marilyn Monroe and Campbell Soup, Elvis Presley is also an iconic subject in Warhol's painting. For the pop art master, the King of Rock and Roll is not merely a celebrity, but a brand designed for mass consumption not unlike a Coca-Cola bottle or Campbell's Soup Can.
The signature series is inspired by the image of Elvis Presley as a gunslinger from the western film Flaming Star. In his Presley paintings, the shimmering silver ground resembles the silver screen, while the overlapping images are reminiscent of a film strip, individual frames containing a single image but when viewed together producing a sense of dynamism and movement.
In most of his Presley paintings, Warhol screens a number of images,ranging from singles to over eleven in one particular canvas, in a linear progression. Each painting in the series is similar, differed only in the number, distance, and shades of color of Presley's images. Among them the "Double Elvis" is created the most one was sold at US$37 million at a New York auction last year. Another special one with Eight Elvis on a 370-centimetre-wide canvas was sold by an Italian collector Annibale Berlingieri privately in 2008 for US$100 million.