Elvis Presley set new a record as Christie’s put up Andy Warhol’s Triple Elvis painting under the hammer on 12 November 2014 in New York. Christie’s sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art fetched a total of $852.8 million which itself set a record of the highest-ever total for an auction. Leading the sale was Warhol’s Triple Elvis which sold for $81.9 million. Standing with his trademark proud stance, Andy Warhol’s rare triple portrait of Elvis Presley dominates the shimmering canvas just as the singer dominated the cultural landscape of the 1950s and 1960s.
Fascinated by popular culture, fame and celebrity, Elvis was the ultimate subject for the artist. At nearly seven feet tall, the image of Elvis Presley looms large in form of three figures. Displaying a confident posture, Elvis is staring directly out of the canvas with his famous “baby blue” eyes. Using a single screen, Warhol has repeated the image three times, each time producing an image of Elvis that is notable for its exceptional clarity and depth. The auction house also states that the quality of these renditions can be seen in the remarkable details that each contains; from the penetrating precision of Elvis’s eyes to the individual folds of his shirt, right down to the texture of his trousers, the exceptional detail of this particular example marks it as one of the pre-eminent examples from this important series of paintings. As well as the clarity of these images, Triple Elvis is also distinguished by the arrangement of the figures within the scope of the canvas.
It is also learnt that the use of repetition was an important strategy for Warhol. In Triple Elvis, 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. The star’s powerful physical presence in Triple Elvis acts as a poignant reminder of the enduring power of the personality.
Also Andy Warhol’s rendition of Marlon Brando in form of Four Marlons artwork fetched $69.6 million at the auction. Bidders from over the world competed for an exceptional array of Abstract Expressionist, Pop and Contemporary works from some of the century’s most inspiring and influential artists, including the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, Willem de Kooning, Martin Kippenberger, Cy Twombly and Jeff Koons.