Brigitte Bardot's celebrity status in the 1960s and early 1970s was so iconic that it was almost inevitable that Warhol would one day have to paint her. Not only was she the original sex-kitten and the personification of 1960s liberated sexuality, she was also an icon of how a young radicalized post-1968 France saw itself.
In 1974, at the age of 39 and still at the height of her career, Bardot or "BB" as she was known in France, was as beautiful and as famous as ever. Her blond hair, heavy eyeliner and pouting lips were an instantly recognizable trademark of her free-spirited energy and sexual allure all over the world. It was at this point, that she shocked many people by announcing her retirement. With typical directness she announced, "I've made 48 films of which only five were good. The rest are not worth anything. I will not make another."
Considering Bardot's iconic status as a 1960s idol, it was - surprisingly -- not until the early 1970s that Warhol made her portrait. The present work is one of only eight portraits that Warhol did of Bardot, all taken from an earlier Richard Avedon photograph. Filling the frame of the picture with her image in a direct and open way, Warhol lets Bardot's famous features dominate the canvas. Her doe-like eyes and perceived innocence emerges from the fur-like folds of her hair to command the picture plane and arrest the attention of the viewer. More sensitive in his treatment of Bardot than in his more garish and brutal treatments of Liz Taylor and Marilyn, Warhol has used a comparatively subdued cosmetic color scheme so as to ensure that Bardot's beauty and allure transcends her transformation into a Warholian Pop icon. Perhaps also because Bardot needed and used little make-up, her image responds well to Warhol's neon-like overpainted color. Using a straightforward and personal image of her -- albeit one that looks like an album cover -- and remaining faithful to the simplicity of her beauty, Warhol has accurately created in this work a portrait of Bardot as both individual and phenomenon.