Liz by Andy Warhol - Signed offset Lithograph Printed in Colours on Wove Paper, 1964

Liz Taylor Andy Warhol

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Warhol’s focus on stardom in his work was remarkably prescient, foreshadowing a contemporary obsession with the cult of celebrity. The Liz series is part of a pantheon of female muses chosen by Warhol for their alluring tragic glamour and for their significance within popular culture. His paintings of Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy have much in common with the artist’s Death and Disaster series of the early 1960s. While they are paintings of iconic beauty; they are also paintings that respond to the public’s fascination with suicide and death. It is important to note that Marilyn, Jackie and Liz, were not painted from life but from publicity and media images.

The artist was fascinated by the figures whose private lives dominated the public domain; these were women whose image was consumed by the masses just like any other commodity in the commercial age of 1960s America. Warhol painted Taylor after her well-publicised illnesses and romantic affairs. 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. 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. Warhol was fascinated by the mythology that built around the star. Liz is an image of glamour, but not of perfection. Containing both light and shade, the portrait with its painted-on smile, captures something of the screen idol’s public image; endlessly alluring, compellingly flawed and vividly striking.

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