Christie's has announced an auction of an exceptional selection of Pop Art masterpieces at its Post-War and Contemporary Sale on November 8, 2011 in New York, including Roy Lichtenstein's I Can See the Whole Room… and There's Nobody in It!.
Also for sale are Andy Warhol's pictures of Campbell's Soup Cans - among the indisputable icons of the twentieth century.
Dating from 1962, Four Campbell's Soup Cans is a unique, hand-painted picture that predates the use of the silkscreen process that would revolutionise Warhol's output later the same year (estimate $7,000,000-10,000,000).
Of the sixty or so pictures of soup cans that Warhol created during the early 1960s, many of which are now in museum collections, a large number were made using processes that allowed for the repetition of the image.
However, Four Campbell's Soup Cans forms part of a separate group of works that were based on photographs taken by Warhol's friend Edward Wallowitch.
Within that limited group, only two pictures aside from Four Campbell's Soup Cans showed multiple cans, making this work all the rarer.
To create Four Campbell's Soup Cans, Warhol projected Wallowitch's photograph and then carefully rendered it in paint. He banished any sense of shade or shadow, creating a fascinating tension between the clearly photographic origin of the work and the flat fields of colour of both the background and the red labels.
In a work that was still hand-painted, he wryly undermined the cult of the brushstroke that had fuelled so much of Modernism.
The Silver Liz paintings that Andy Warhol made in the summer of 1963 are among the defining icons of his oeuvre. Representing the culmination of several series of portraits of Elizabeth Taylor made in the early 1960s, these definitive "icons of an icon" rank among the most resonant, enduring and unforgettable pictorial statements of his art (estimate $16,000,000 to $18,000,000).
Of all the stars that Andy Warhol knew and painted, he seems to have held Elizabeth Taylor in especially high regard, seeing her throughout his life as the absolute epitome of glamour.
When later in his life Warhol met Taylor, growing to become friends with her in the late 1970s and '80s, he was famously heard to quip that if there was an afterlife, he would like to be reincarnated as a "big ring" on her finger.
She was included in his pantheon of "death and disaster" of the early 1960s because of her recent brush with death, when suffering from pneumonia she had to undergo an emergency tracheotomy. As Warhol later explained, he "also did movie stars - Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Troy Donahue - during my 'death' period…(because)... Marilyn Monroe died then.
"I felt that Elizabeth Taylor was going to die too, after her operation."
His return to her image in the Silver Liz of the summer of 1963 marked a distinct contrast to these earlier, more morbid and biographically orientated images.
"I started (the first portraits of Taylor) a long time ago" Warhol told an interviewer in the autumn of 1963, "when she was so sick and everybody thought she was going to die. Now I'm doing them all over, putting bright colours on her lips and eyes."