Monday, June 16, 2014

i was your silver lining, but now i'm gold

"People always want to know about the past, but I'm much more interested in tomorrow." 

Ultra Violet (born Isabelle Collin Dufresne), the French-born artist known for being a muse to both Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali, passed away on Saturday at the age of 78. I admittedly am not familiar by heart with her story, as when I read about the Factory my eyes were often clouded with thoughts of Edie Sedgwick, but I have always admired Ultra Violet's art, her candor, and (of course) her indulgence in stylistic eccentricities. She was an immense beauty -- her features call to mind Vivien Leigh and Ava Gardner -- but she always subverted her classic look by pulling strange expressions in photographs or sporting electric hair hues like violet or lilac (according to Warholian legend, her vivid hair was the inspiration for her name 'Ultra Violet'). A tremendous artist in her own right, Ultra Violet was known for her relations with fellow artists like Warhol, Dali (of her time as his muse and pupil, she once said, "I realized that I was 'surreal,' which I never knew until I met Dali"), John Chamberlain, Marcel Duchamp, and Damien Hirst, as well as affairs with dancer Rudolf Nureyev, director Milos Forman, and artist Ed Ruscha.
There was an exhibit this year staged at the Dillon Gallery in Manhattan called "Ultra Violet: The Studio Recreated," which recreated her Chelsea studio in the form of an installation. It featured dozens of her artworks, plus personal items -- books, albums, mementos from throughout her life. Even though I knew it was an art piece, wandering around the gallery I couldn't help but feel how intensely personal an experience it was. In one of the last acts of her life, Ultra Violet granted access into her sanctuary of creation, allowing a brief glimpse into a great mind. 

"Fame is somewhat legitimate. People want to be God. People want to be remembered. People want to live in eternity." 

Title: from "Silver Lining" (Rilo Kiley)