10 Facts About Andy Warhol's Liz

Written by - Lucy Howie
Liz by Andy WarholLiz © Andy Warhol, 1964
Toni Clayton

Toni Clayton, American Pop & Modern Specialist

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Immortalising one of the most ionic and glamorous faces of the 20th century, Liz is a print series by Andy Warhol from 1964 depicting the eponymous actress. Distinguishing an entire generation of art, Warhol’s Liz epitomises the artist’s Pop Art style becoming synonymous with the movement as a whole and a symbol of 20th century American culture.

1.

Warhol first painted Liz Taylor in 1963

Liz by Andy WarholLiz © Andy Warhol, 1964

Taylor was at the height of her career by 1963, and so this meant that she was the perfect subject for Warhol at the time.

2.

Warhol painted Taylor following her well-publicised illnesses and romantic affairs.

Love (F. & S. II.312) by Andy WarholLove (F. & S. II.312) © Andy Warhol, 1983

Taylor's romance with Cleopatra co-star Richard Burton dominated the papers and it was well reported that she had been near to death after suffering with a rare strain of pneumonia in 1961.

3.

Warhol’s ‘Liz’ is indicative of his fascination with celebrity and death.

Flash November 22 (F. & S. II.42) by Andy WarholFlash November 22 (F. & S. II.42) © Andy Warhol, 1968

Warhol’s portrait of Liz Taylor precedes his portraits of Marilyn Monroe that share these intertwining themes of death and celebrity.

4.

Liz Taylor was one of the first actresses to be paid over $1 million USD.

Marilyn (F. & S. II.21) by Andy WarholMarilyn (F. & S. II.21) © Andy Warhol, 1967

During this time, as well as receiving an Oscar for best actress at the Academy Awards, Taylor was also the first actress to be paid over $1 million USD for a film.

5.

Liz Taylor was a fearless AIDS activist.

Liz Taylor was equally famous for her AIDS activism as she was for her acting. The star was a champion of the gay community and was committed to the fight against HIV/AIDs from 1984.

6.

Warhol and Taylor were friends.

The Shadow (unique) by Andy WarholThe Shadow (unique) © Andy Warhol, 1981

Warhol and Taylor became friends later in his career in the 1970s.

7.

The Liz Taylor print is created from a publicity photograph.

Grace Kelly by Andy WarholGrace Kelly ©Andy Warhol, 1984

The print shows an image of Taylor based on a publicity photograph from the late 1950s for her film Butterfield 8 tightly cropped and coloured with a bright red background that contours Taylor’s thick, dark hair.

8.

The print was last sold in October 2022.

Dollar Sign Quad (F. & S. II.283) by Andy WarholDollar Sign Quad (F. & S. II.283) © Andy Warhol, 1982

An Andy Warhol Liz print was last sold on 24th October 2022, at Phillips New York. The print far exceeded its pre-sale estimate of US$10,000-15,000, going for US$40,320 on the day.

9.

The record price for an original Liz painting is US$31.5 million.

Dollar Sign Quad (F. & S. II.284) by Andy WarholDollar Sign Quad (F. & S. II.284) © Andy Warhol, 1982

In November 2014, Warhol’s Liz achieved an all time record sale of US$31,525,000 at Sotheby’s New York.

10.

Warhol’s technique reflects his interested in the excessiveness of celebrity culture.

Queen Elizabeth II Royal Edition (F. & S. II.337A) by Andy WarholQueen Elizabeth II Royal Edition (F. & S. II.337A) © Andy Warhol, 1985

The repetition of a single image across the entire series explores the concept of democratising high art and mimics the appearance of prolific mass-media imagery. Alongside Warhol’s use of vivid non-naturalistic colours, the series points to the excessiveness of celebrity culture and the hollowness of fame.

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