Thursday, December 3, 2009

Warhol's Muse Edie Sedgwick (1943-1971)

Edie Sedgwick was a bright social butterfly whose candle of fame burned both briefly and brightly. Born into a wealthy family of impressive lineage, Edie became a "celebutante" for her beauty, style, wealth and her associations with figures of the 1960s counterculture, most notably Andy Warhol.

Edie was introduced to Andy Warhol in 1965. Very much taken with the Boston native, Warhol announced that he was crowning Edie "the queen of The Factory," and commissioned screenplays for her. Wein became his new screenwriter and assistant director, beginning with "Beauty No. 2," which starred Edie and premiered at the Cinematheque on July 17, 1965. "Beauty No. 2" made Edie Sedgwick the leading lady of underground cinema. Her on-screen persona was compared to Marilyn Monroe, and she became famous among the independent film glitterati. Her association with Warhol helped secure both his reputation and hers. With the glamorous Edie in tow, Warhol made the rounds of parties and gallery openings, and they generated reams of copy and free publicity. Originally an outsider, Warhol was eventually wooed by wealthy socialites and became a major part of the art establishment.

Although her physical attributes and native charm are compelling even now, I have a lot of trouble dredging up any real respect for someone who created nothing for herself and threw away everything that was given her, in the end, even her life. It is perhaps appropriate that she was, for a time, the artistic inspiration for a man who was himself essentially shallow.


  1. The 5th & 6th pictures on this page are of some girl immitating Edie and does her NO justice. So before you go throwing your opinions around about a person, perhaps you should be a little more informed. Edie was epic, period.

  2. Well, this would, after all, be the place for me to throw around my opinion, wouldn't it?

    Perhaps you could start a blog wherein you detail all the contributions to science and the arts that were made by this accomplished thespian that makes her "epic, period." I would read it with interest. :)

    As for whether I need to be more informed, personally I find stories of people who piss away all their family's money in an endless quest for drugs, penises and "celebrity" and end up broke, addicted and finally dead of an overdose at a young age kind of depressing, so I think I'm informed enough, thank you.

    Feel free to throw your opinion around here anytime, though. Always happy to hear from a fan. :)


  3. Why Edie Matters:
    Edie was an artist in her own right; she went to art school, where she apparently was a perfectionist quite talented.
    She was an extremely hurt and rather naive girl but full of so much life that she threw herself wholly into the scene that accepted her.
    She then did something rather remarkable in its novelty for the time; she turned herself into her living canvas, and in doing so inadvertently created the iconic fashion of the 60s. Her clothes and makeup were her visual art, both hiding and highlighting her desperation; it was like she created a character, a glamourized caricature of herself for those around her. That was her contribution to the art world she lived in. Besides, no vapid ditz walks into a room and immediately captivates some of the biggest artists, musicians etc. of that time, holding their focus conversationally, not just visually.
    Many fashion designers consider her the only person in the 20th (or 21st) to legitimately invent a new style, and it caught on all over the nation. Not only did she inspire Warhol, she was arguably more creative than he was, considering his henchmen did a LOT of his painting.
    Today, someone's daily makeup and clothing style may not seem like art to you. But it was completely new; there had never been anyone like her. When she was taking two hours a day to paint on meticulous eye makeup, giant eyebrows, applying five sets of false lashes, that was art. She was a performer and mask maker.
    Beneath the hysteria, drugs and theatrics, those who knew her speak of her as a remarkably magnetic and intensely loving person. While today's socialites fall out of limos sans skivvys and get into cat fights at bars, Edie captivated everyone who came across her by being graceful, kind, carefree and intriguing. And while their parents stand idly by, hers were nowhere around, and she did not piss away their money. Yes, she did her portion, but her family was full of effed up people who raised her to be crazy and excessive.
    She was medicated most of her life, had two brothers commit suicide and a lot more insanity in her family tree. Wandering into THE underground scene of New York with such pain and naivetee, only to find everyone loves you and gets delight from your very essence, in a time when you got your daily meth and vitamin shot from a doctor, it's not necessarily fair to think she was just some stupid, ungrateful addict. It was a different time and place and the dangers of many drugs were NOT common knowledge.
    Edie had the genetic disposition to become an addict and her parents chose to give her her inheritance at a rather young age.
    Yes, she made decisions, and plenty of bad ones, but to judge her from a modern stance, with modern knowledge of drugs and an ignorance of the fact that Edie was truly a unique force that took the world by storm and an essentially good, loving person, is unfair.
    The "treatments" that kept failing her included shock therapy and many medications that are no longer legal. And, she took her usual prescribed medication and then died in her sleep due to a sort of build-up OD/inability to process any more drugs. She was on the road to recovery.
    So, at least take all these factors into account before writing her off.

    1. What you write is all true but it's an idealized story of which the importance to society is inflated. She did nothing too creative that any intelligent person could do and the same way she did it too. By accident. As far as her allure goes, everyone saw this pretty, young, needy and RICH,little girl coming. So it's not surprising she was "let into" the "IN" crowd. Warhol did a couple of major things for the modern art movement even if it was by fooling everyone into thinking he was so clever. For both of them: Right place, right personality, right time. Just my opinion.

  4. Gorgeous photos. Fascinating bio. And - thank you, Femmefatale - for editorial commentary which is nuanced, well-informed, and compassionate. What a thoroughly engaging page.

  5. Some of those images are definitely not of Edie. It's rather obvious, if you look carefully and compare them to the ones that are clearly of her and are also well known shots of her. In particular, images 6,7 and 24 are clearly BOGUS.

  6. the only reason i even know of her is because i love that haunting song by "The Cult" titled appropriately enough, "Edie" and always wondered WHO were they singing about? personally the whole Andy Warhol thing (along with most modern "art") does NOTHING for me, but Edie had style and was certainly photogenic. In the end, just another human life snuffed out long before its time :(

  7. She was shallow!!! is cool to read about Edie and her life but from every interview I've heard of her or read about it was all "me me me I I I." At the end she was just another waster.