BRETT GORVY, CHAIRMAN AND INTERNATIONAL HEAD OF POST-WAR AND
CONTEMPORARY ART, TALKS TO AWARD WINNING ACTRESS LIZA MINNELLI
ABOUT HER PORTRAIT BY ANDY WARHOL:
Liza Minnelli: Brett, how are you!
Brett Gorvy: Thank you for entrusting Christie's with your
portrait. It's so beautiful.
Liza Minnelli: Isn't it stunning?
Brett Gorvy: Obviously it must have a very personal connotation
Liza Minnelli: Yes, it does. What's so gorgeous are the eyes. I mean, the fact that he's taken so much time to create the color combinations.
Brett Gorvy: Tell us, how did you first meet Andy Warhol?
Liza Minnelli: Well, I first saw him when I arrived in New York, in '68 or thereabouts. I'd see him around. You know, in those days, if you went downtown, to a restaurant or a discotheque, you'd see him and if you went to his studio. My father took me there. But I hadn't met him personally. And, then Halston, who was my dearest, dearest friend, and like my godfather, introduced us. And Andy was so nice, he was so sweet to me, he seemed so interested in me, and what I'd done, and how I'd done it, and he knew everything. It was if he'd studied me or something. But he was like that. He was involved-you know, he knew everything about all the different stars.
Brett Gorvy: And did he immediately want to paint you? Was this something which happened quite early on in your relationship?
Liza Minnelli: Yes, it was. I was up for a Tony Award, for a show called The Act. And Andy had been through the whole experience of creating the show with me because Halston had done the clothes. And it was a real fight, to make the show a triumph. We worked so hard on it. I used to talk to Andy about it, and then he'd come and see it at different stages. And I kept saying 'I don't think this is working! God, are you sure about this? Because when you get so close to something, you're really not sure. And we opened, we were this huge hit, and it was just great. And, Andy was there on the opening night, he was very supportive. And he just kept saying "I told you, I told you, I told you." And then I was nominated! And, the day of the nominations, again, I thought, now wait a minute. I am up against Madeline Kahn, Frances Sternhagen, and Eartha Kitt, all of whom I respect and love so much, but I really thought Francis Sternhagen was going to win, for Angel. And as I'm getting ready to walk out the door suddenly Andy's there. And he said "I have a surprise for you." He had a parcel just wrapped in brown paper. I opened it, and it was this picture. And I turned it around, there was it was this inscription ["to Liza, Happy Tony"] on the back.
Brett Gorvy: So he really felt that you were going to win?
Liza Minnelli: He was sure of it. So he gave me the picture. When I turned it over, it touched me so. What a wonderful present, you know? And then I went to the Tony's, and we did win.
Brett Gorvy: Oh, that's fantastic. Now, tell me about the creation of the picture; I mean, do you remember the process that was involved? Obviously he took Polaroids of you?
Liza Minnelli: Yes he did take Polaroids, because he always had that camera with him. What's so beautiful about the picture seems to be that there seems to be so much love and care that went into the making of it.
Brett Gorvy: There seems also to be a real sort of affection obviously towards you, but even the process itself seems to be so labored, and deliberate.
Liza Minnelli: Yes. It really was. And can you imagine? It just knocked me out of my chair. And then when I won, you know, I went to the ball, and Andy was the first person I saw! And he kept saying, "I told you, I told you." That was in June l978.
Brett Gorvy: And in terms of the picture itself, which you have lived with for the past thirty three years, does it capture for you that particular period in your life?
Liza Minnelli: It brings back every memory I have of that event, and of that period of time.
Brett Gorvy: What do you think is so special about the picture? Apart from the memories, is there something physical about the picture that reminds you of yourself at that time?
Liza Minnelli: Well, it's hand-done. It's exactly like he gave it to me. There's no frame, no nothing. And I've kept it all these years because it was such a wonderful memory of that night and the whole experience. It was a tremendous time. And also, you know, my parents, my mother, and my father, and myself, were the only complete family who had all won Oscars.
Brett Gorvy: Your decision now to let this picture and its memories go into the world, is it just a question of it being the right time now? A period of your life where it's good to say goodbye?
Liza Minnelli: Well, the thing is, everybody who ever saw it, said, you've got to let people see this. It's so unusual. Because it was made during the time when Andy made everybody look a little bizarre in pictures. This was so stunningly simple and I think it captures our friendship. I've had it all these years. And I thought, okay. It's time to let it go. There's only one of it. It's one-of-a-kind, because it's hand-painted. It's not like the other paintings he did of me. This one means something.