"Elizabeth Taylor" by Andy Warhol (1963)


Revolutionary thought began to surface in the United States during the 1960s, when the country was reeling from the controversy surrounding the Vietnam war and focusing its energy more on technology and modernization. This revolutionary thought made way for national development and discovery, including the first US voyage to the moon in 1969 (LSC-Kingswood Library). Art was progressive, and pop art became popular for its modern theme and simplicity. Pop art was not as detailed as the arts like realism that had preceded it, but rather was meant to be simple to aid the audience in creating their own interpretations of the pieces. Elizabeth Taylor was created by Andy Warhol in 1963. Warhol is known for his pop art renditions of popular/celebrity objects and people like Elizabeth Taylor (Greenberg).

Elizabeth Taylor was a world-renowned actress, often admired for her glamour and beauty (Notable Biographies). She was especially well-known for her good looks, specifically her violet eye color. Warhol emphasized the areas around her eye with a bold teal color, and her lips with a bright red to focus the audience toward her facial features. Her skin is flawless; her face revealing a sly smile, Taylor looks mysterious. Her features are so perfect to the point that they are unrealistic. Taylor's cartoon-like appearance explores new areas of thought and calls reality into question. Do we strive to look so perfect to the point that we seem cartoon-like? Warhol’s rendition of Taylor puts the idea of beauty into question; is our idea of beauty unattainable?

Why focus on Elizabeth Taylor with so many others to choose from? The very fact that Warhol decided to create a portrait of Taylor proves her world-renowned celebrity. Warhol was aware that the rest of the country was captivated by Taylor’s appeal. To focus on someone like Elizabeth Taylor would attract the attention of her entire fan-base. And accordingly, Warhol would have the opportunity for all her fans to serve as an audience of his piece and the message it was portraying; that beauty was reduced to sex appeal. Warhol was commenting on how superficial and commercial our notions of beauty were becoming with his use of cartoon colors and flat, two dimensional figures. Elizabeth Taylor had the best of both worlds--talent and beauty; but her appearance played a major role in the attainment of her celebrity. So what does that say about our nation at its present? We worship, stalk, admire, and strive to look like celebrities. Does that mean that, because of the constant necessity to look and be a certain way, we often only admire people for their beauty, and we neglect true talent and substance?

"American Cultural History - 1960 - 1969." LSC-Kingwood Library. Web. <"http://kclibrary.lonestar.edu/decade60.html"
"Elizabeth Taylor Biography - Life, Family, Children, Parents, Name, Story, Wife, Mother, Young."Encyclopedia of World Biography. Web. <http://www.notablebiographies.com/St-Tr/Taylor-Elizabeth.html>.
Greenberg, Jan, and Sandra Jordan. Andy Warhol: Prince of Pop. New York: Delacorte, 2004. Print.


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