The Afterimage of a Flash-bulb


Source image for Liz Taylor portrait

 
 

Silver Liz-Ferus Type, 1963

 
 

Liz (Late colored Liz), 1963

 
 

Andy Warhol chose the source image for this painting of actress Elizabeth Taylor from a publicity photograph of her 1960 film, BUtterfield 8 (Daniel Mann, 1960). He created this portrait when Taylor was at the height of stardom, but was also very ill with pneumonia. Warhol remembered: “I started those [pictures of Elizabeth Taylor] a long time ago, when she was so sick and everyone said she was going to die. Now I’m doing them all over, putting bright colors on her lips and eyes.” Art historian Robert Rosenblum reflects on Warhol’s artistry both of technique and of selection: “the contradictory fusion of the commonplace facts of photography and the artful fictions of a painter’s retouchings was one that, in Warhol’s work, became a particularly suitable formula for the recording of those wealthy and glamorous people whose faces seem perpetually illuminated by the afterimage of a flash-bulb.

Taylor became very ill during the early filming of Cleopatra and was rushed to hospital, where a tracheotomy had to be performed to save her life. The resulting scar can be seen in some shots. All of this resulted in the film being shut down. The production was moved to Rome after six months as the English weather proved detrimental to her recovery.

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