The Whitney's Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965

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“I think that’s what our collection aims to be—to really ground people in the work of the particular moment, but also to show how historical work can have new resonance in our contemporary moment.”
—David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection

Hear from a range of artists, curators, and scholars speaking about works on view.

Andy Warhol, Elvis 2 Times, 1963

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Narrator: Two life-size Elvis Presleys stand with their legs apart, pointing their guns in roughly the same direction. In 1960, rock icon Elvis Presley made a western film called Flaming Star—the artist Andy Warhol took this image from a publicity still for the film.

He silkscreened these images of Elvis in black ink against a silver-painted canvas. They are two of many reproductions Warhol made for an exhibit in Los Angeles in 1964. Richard Meyer, the Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor in Art History at Stanford University.

Richard Meyer: I think that Warhol, who was himself an incredible fan of popular culture, was in part thinking about the logic of reproduction, and the ways in which people become stars, in part through the mass distribution of their image. So it’s not about one Elvis poster hanging in one teenager’s room. It’s about thousands or hundreds of thousands of Elvis’s posters.

Narrator: While all the canvases exhibited in Los Angeles were the same height as this one, they had different widths and varying numbers of Elvises. Warhol mailed the silkscreens to his art dealer in Los Angeles on a giant roll of canvas without cutting them beforehand. He let the gallery divide the single roll however they wanted with the only instruction being to line the walls edge to edge, so that a visitor would literally be surrounded by gun slinging Elvises.

Richard Meyer: I think that this in a sense kind of encapsulates Warhol’s ideas about the relation between the fan and the star, which is that it is about a desire to be kind of overwhelmed by ever more images of the star.

A screen print of Elvis Presley two times.

Narrator: Two life-size Elvis Presleys stand with their legs apart, pointing their guns in roughly the same direction. In 1960, rock icon Elvis Presley made a western film called Flaming Star—the artist Andy Warhol took this image from a publicity still for the film.

He silkscreened these images of Elvis in black ink against a silver-painted canvas. They are two of many reproductions Warhol made for an exhibit in Los Angeles in 1964. Richard Meyer, the Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor in Art History at Stanford University.

Richard Meyer: I think that Warhol, who was himself an incredible fan of popular culture, was in part thinking about the logic of reproduction, and the ways in which people become stars, in part through the mass distribution of their image. So it’s not about one Elvis poster hanging in one teenager’s room. It’s about thousands or hundreds of thousands of Elvis’s posters.

Narrator: While all the canvases exhibited in Los Angeles were the same height as this one, they had different widths and varying numbers of Elvises. Warhol mailed the silkscreens to his art dealer in Los Angeles on a giant roll of canvas without cutting them beforehand. He let the gallery divide the single roll however they wanted with the only instruction being to line the walls edge to edge, so that a visitor would literally be surrounded by gun slinging Elvises.

Richard Meyer: I think that this in a sense kind of encapsulates Warhol’s ideas about the relation between the fan and the star, which is that it is about a desire to be kind of overwhelmed by ever more images of the star.


Andy Warhol, Elvis 2 Times, 1963. Screenprint and aluminum paint on linen, 82 11/16 × 80 3/4 in. (210 × 205.1 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of The American Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc., Leonard A. Lauder, President 2002.272 © 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York