W hen Chris Levine unveiled The Lightness of Being in 2008, the work took the world by storm and overnight became one of the most iconic and sought-after portraits of Queen Elizabeth II. The image was subsequently reproduced in a limited number of different editions, ranging from large lenticular lightboxes to pop-coloured silkscreen prints. The present version constitutes the very last iteration of this body of work. Released to commemorate the queen’s life and legacy, it poignantly comes in an edition of 96 prints, each representing a year of the queen’s life.
"Releasing this work, I’ve saved the best till last. I’m often asked which is my favourite from the body of work, this has to be right up there. I was due to give Ma’am one of these along with my portrait of Frankel as a thank you and gift for her Jubilee."
The sitting with Queen Elizabeth II took place in 2004, after the Jersey Heritage Trust commissioned Levine to create the first holographic portrait of the monarch. The commission was to mark the Island of Jersey’s 800 years of allegiance to the Crown. The resulting portrait, titled Equanimity, was presented to the National Portrait Gallery by the people of Jersey in 2011. Lightness of Being is a variant of the work, presenting the queen with her eyes closed in a moment of quiet contemplation. Levine began using the image in his work in 2008 and it soon became a defining piece in the artist’s visual practice.
Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022 by Chris Levine
Based on Equanimity, the present work was intended for release during the year of the Platinum Jubilee but was held back after the Queen's passing. Titled Queen Elizabeth II / 1926-2022, the work has been hand coloured as the original material was shot in black and white. This is the first time the work has been shown to the public and is offered exclusively by Sotheby’s as the final rendition from this extraordinary body of work. The innovative print uses a series of stereographic frames set behind a lenticular lens to create a 3D image. It is one of the finest examples ever made using this technology and commands astonishing depth.
About the Artist
Chris Levine is a light artist who works across many mediums in pursuit of an expanded state of perception and awareness through image and form. Levine’s work considers light not just as a core aspect of art, but of human experience more widely and a spiritual, meditative and philosophical edge permeates his work. Levine is perhaps best known for producing what is already being described as one of the most iconic images of the twenty-first century, Lightness of Being. With light and stillness at its core, the sensational portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II presents an utterly fresh depiction of the most famous woman in the world. The National Portrait Gallery stated it was the most evocative image of a royal by any artist.
Levine’s practice is differentiated by the cross-fertilization across many creative fields including music, performance, installation, fashion and design in a multitude of projects.
His exhibition Hypervisual 1.2 completed a tour of 12 countries with the British Council. In 2012 his work featured in the major exhibition, Queen, Art and Image at London’s National Portrait Gallery. He has artwork in London’s V&A, the Science Museum, the NPG and has staged light performances and exhibitions internationally in spaces such as Radio City in New York commissioned by MoMA, The Eden Project, The Royal Opera House, MATE museum in Lima, London’s Fine Art Society and the headline installation at MOFO festival for Tasmania’s MONA museum.
In 2021 he exhibited at historic Houghton Hall in Norfolk and this was the latest in a series of prestigious shows and broke all attendance records. Previous artists included Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, Richard Long, Henry Moore and James Turrel.
Other subjects of his 3D light portraiture work include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbel, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Giorgio Armani, Sir Paul Smith, U2, Grace Jones and Sir Elton John.
Work On View in London
15–19 September 2023
Works Available for Purchase Online:
30 May–30 November 2023
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