Elizabeth Taylor, Friends & Heroes I


Despite their generational difference, epochal 1940s and '50s Hollywood actress Elizabeth Taylor and Johnny were good friends. The latter once described her as an "amazing woman" and "great inspiration," while Elizabeth recognised Johnny as a "cute" and "brilliantly nuanced actor with great range."

In contrast to her refined and angelic persona in films such as Cleopatra, Johnny knew her personally as a humorous woman who laughed and "cussed like a sailor." Her larger-than-life character bleeds through her portrait in Johnny's Friends & Heroes I collection. In the artwork, we can admire the actress as Johnny saw her; a confident and timeless heroine uncompromised by age.

The Collection

Johnny’s debut collection Friends & Heroes I sees him focus on people he has known well, and who have inspired him as a person. Each image is an intimate reflection of their character in Johnny's eyes; a portrayal of how they have revealed themselves to him. Working from photographic references, each image has been stripped back to a simpler and iconic portrayal of the subject, which Johnny has then developed and energised with his characteristic freehand flourishes. 

In addition to being hand-signed by the artist, this limited edition artwork is embossed with Johnny's iconic Bunnyman logo. The Bunnyman's form was inspired by a sketch drawn by Johnny’s son Jack, who saw the figure in a dream when he was five years old. Remarkably, Johnny remembered seeing the same character in his own dreams and recognised The Bunnyman as a friendly warrior, who stands at the doorway between reality and imagination. Johnny later realised the iconic figure on a large canvas, and it has since come to symbolise both him and his work. The Bunnyman is now being registered as a global trademark and, along with Johnny’s initials, it represents an additional guarantee of authenticity beyond his handwritten signature.

Photographic reference- Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images.

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