• Andy Warhol. Screen Test: Edie Sedgwick [ST306], 1965.

    Andy Warhol. Screen Test: Edie Sedgwick [ST306], 1965. 16mm film, black and white, silent, 4.5 minutes at 16 frames per second. Film still courtesy The Andy Warhol Museum. © The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved.

Story May 24, 2019 New York

Warhol Women | Edie Sedgwick

“The whole thing was the beautiful Ivy League boys, the clever faggots who loved them, and the beautiful debutante girls the beautiful Ivy League boys loved.” [1]

Part of a steady migration of affluent youth who left the quiet charms of Cambridge, Massachusetts, for the excitement of New York in the early 1960s, Edie Sedgwick was one of those “beautiful debutante girls,” when she met Andy Warhol. Introduced by Lester Persky in 1965 at a party the producer was hosting for Tennessee Williams’s birthday, Warhol was immediately taken with Sedgwick’s appearance. [2] His friend Bob Colacello later captured the young woman’s significance to the artist, calling her “his Marilyn Monroe.” [3] Writing for Vanity Fair in 2017, Lili Anolik expanded on this comparison, observing that Edie, “wasn’t a clone of Marilyn so much as a variation on the theme of Marilyn. Marilyn, the next generation.” [4]

Modelling appealed to Sedgwick, and Warhol later wrote that she quickly established, “her own look that VogueLife, Time, and all the other magazines would photograph—long, long earrings with dime-store T-shirts over dancer’s tights, with a white mink coat thrown over it all.” [5]

However it wasn’t simply her beauty and style that caught Warhol’s imagination. Colacello recalled that the Sedgwick family’s pilgrim heritage was a source of great envy for Warhol, who was a first-generation American: “’Edie’s family came over on the Mayflower,’ he once told me, ‘and she still wasn’t happy. Can you imagine? What boat did your family come over on Bob?’” [6]

Despite beauty, wealth, privilege, and her family’s deep roots (in many ways Sedgwick was primed to be the ultimate “insider” in post-war America), the young woman was deeply troubled, and her life was plagued with drama. Yet for Warhol, this tension made her “more attractive,” [7] and in 1965 he filmed her repeatedly for works including the Beauty series, and one of his famous Screen Tests:

“Edie was incredible on camera—just the way she moved. And she never stopped moving for a second—even when she was sleeping, her hands were wide awake. She was all energy—she didn’t know what to do with it when it came to living her life, but it was wonderful on film. The great stars are the ones who are doing something you can watch every second, even if it’s just a movement inside their eye.” [8]

Six years after she was Andy Warhol’s “Girl of the Year 1965,” Edie Sedgwick died from an overdose of barbiturates at the age of 28. [9]

 


 

In honor of our exhibition Warhol Women, we’re sharing some of the stories behind the artist’s iconic portraits. Visit the Happenings page each week to read more!

 


Notes:
[1] Source unknown, quoted in Andy Warhol, with Pat Hackett, POPism: The Warhol Sixties (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1980), 123.
[2] Lili Anolik, “Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick: A Brief, White-Hot, and Totally Doomed Romance,” Vanity Fair, December 6, 2017, https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2017/12/andy-warhol-and-edie-sedgwick-a-brief-white-hot-and-totally-doomed-romance.
[3] Bob Colacello, Holy Terror Andy Warhol Close Up (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), 39.
[4] Lili Anolik, “Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick: A Brief, White-Hot, and Totally Doomed Romance,” Vanity Fair, December 6, 2017, https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2017/12/andy-warhol-and-edie-sedgwick-a-brief-white-hot-and-totally-doomed-romance.
[5] Andy Warhol, with Pat Hackett, POPism: The Warhol Sixties (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1980), 124.
[6] Bob Colacello, Holy Terror Andy Warhol Close Up (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), 93.
[7] Andy Warhol, with Pat Hackett, POPism: The Warhol Sixties (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1980), 133.
[8] Andy Warhol, with Pat Hackett, POPism: The Warhol Sixties (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1980), 137.
[9] Lili Anolik, “Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick: A Brief, White-Hot, and Totally Doomed Romance,” Vanity Fair, December 6, 2017, https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2017/12/andy-warhol-and-edie-sedgwick-a-brief-white-hot-and-totally-doomed-romance.

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