Warhol likely based this painting on a film still from the 1960 movie Flaming Star. It is one of twenty-three Elvis canvases that were first exhibited at the Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, in 1963 Warhol’s second show there. Apparently too busy to frame the works himself, Warhol sent a roll of canvas silkscreened with repeating images of Elvis, stretcher bars of various sizes, and directions to cut the canvas into segments however the gallery saw fit. Warhol’s Elvis canvases were his first to feature multiple, overlapping figures, a formal device that almost makes it seem as if the singer-actor’s likeness is moving or flickering against the silver-screen background.
Gallery label from Andy Warhol: Campbell’s Soup Cans and Other Works, 1953–1967, April 25–October 18, 2015.