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Andy Warhol + Edie Sedgwick

The Artist + The Muse

Andy Warhol + Edie Sedgwick

Andy Warhol + Edie Sedgwick


In ancient Greece, the Muses were nine goddesses who inspired humanity to accomplish great achievements in literature, art and science. The muses were so honored, so beloved, that they were invoked by writers, philosophers and artists throughout history to bless them with inspiration as they began to create.

The word “museum” (originally, “cult place of the Muses”) came to mean a place for the public display of art and knowledge. But in the world of contemporary art, what does the term muse mean? It’s a word that describes a person, or sometimes a place, that endlessly inspires an artist.

The muse plays an extremely vital role in an artist’s life and in art history. When an artist is inspired by something or someone they see to create a masterpiece…it is inspiration personified. A kind of falling in love with a persona that energizes the artist enough to channel their passion to the canvas. And for the muse… they live forever captured on canvas for the world to see. A timeless, extraordinary relationship.

The spark of creation can catch fire when an artist engages with this profound connection, understanding or chemistry. And so, for the artist, these relationships are powerful, allowing them to almost endlessly create while under the spell of their muse.

For the muse, there is a different kind of joy. The ability to be seen and expressed by another person can be liberating and empowering. They live forever in the artwork they inspire.

Does an artist need a muse? Sometimes, as this is a profound connection that generates amazing work. It’s a relationship that appears in all eras and places. So too has it made its presence felt in Pop Art.

Let’s look through a few of the most famous artist and muse relationships in contemporary art and celebrate this unique human relationship.


Andy Warhol + Edie Sedgwick

Andy Warhol was already a major star of the art world when the beautiful, enigmatic socialite, Edie Sedgwick walked through the door of Tennessee Williams’ birthday party. They were both attending thanks to movie producer Lester Persky who wanted the two to meet.

Persky claims that when Warhol first laid eyes on Sedgwick, he took a deep breath and said, “Oh, she’s so beautiful.” Her beauty was tinged by danger, it seemed to the artist, like she was deeply damaged.

Their encounter would change both of their lives forever, an odd love story laced with tragedy.

Sedgwick had moved to New York City less than a year earlier after getting a large trust fund from her grandmother. With that money, she traveled to the big city to become an actress. And why not? She was talented, charismatic and exquisite.

Andy was immediately smitten and inspired by her beauty, style, pedigree and poise, the artist quickly built an avant-garde film around her. Titled “Poor Little Rich Girl” (1965), the film followed the heiress around to capture an actual day in her life…arguably the first ‘reality TV.” Warhol continued documenting her amongst the trippy Factory regulars, the 22-year-old stunning heiress became Andy’s supernova. The IT girl. They knew each other’s power and they fed off each other’s fame. She was not a wallflower, she could act, if not direct and often came up with some of the strongest concepts. Edie also knew how to work the limelight. She began dressing in an iconic way — black leotards and silver hair — to emphasize her personality and create a mystique…a beautiful, feminine reflection of Andy. Enraptured, Warhol called her his “Superstar.” His muse.

Through Edie’s sophisticated, society connections, Andy was able to access a more respectable, elevated status with an audience that could afford to buy his art. Andy thought Edie would be his ticket to Hollywood filmmaking, but their relationship got increasingly strained over issues of money, allegedly Bob Dylan and Edie’s worsening drug habit. Andy distanced himself as she fell deeper into drug addiction.

Over the next several years, Edie’s life took on a difficult tempo of rehabilitation and relapse. Though she was a superstar, no other filmmaker could see that as clearly as Warhol.

Tragically, Edie Sedgwick died at the age of 28.


David Hockney + Celia Birtwell