Warhol Superstar Ultra Violet, 1935–2014

Ultra Violet, one of the best known of Andy Warhol numerous “superstars,” died Saturday, aged 78, at a Manhattan hospital. The French-born artist, whose real name was Isabelle Collin Dufresne, was in her late 20s when she met Warhol in 1964 while having tea at the St. Regis Hotel with her then-lover Salvador Dalí, according to an obituary in The New York Times. Warhol was immediately interested in casting her in his films and she made her screen debut the following year in The Life of Juanita Castro, an improvised political comedy. She later appeared in I, a Man (1967), as well as more than a dozen other films. She also made an appearance in the seminal 1969 film Midnight Cowboy with fellow Factory members Viva, International Velvet, and Paul Morrissey.

In 1988 Ultra Violet penned her memoir Famous for 15 Minutes: My Years with Andy Warhol, in which she outlined her return to religion after a nervous breakdown. She denounced the person she had been during the earlier years as “an unleashed exhibitionist chasing headlines.” In a 2005 interview she stated: ” I survived by grace alone.” The book also addressed affairs with Rudolf Nureyev, Ed Ruscha, and film director Milos Forman. Ultra Violet had appeared in Forman’s 1971 film Taking Off.

She worked as an artist up until her death. A show at the Dillon Gallery in Manhattan “Ultra Violet: The Studio Recreated,” closed three weeks ago. Recent work focused on the terrorist attacks of September 11, using the Roman numerals IX and XI as “a graphic palindrome,” according to the Times.


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