‘I would like to be famous for 16 minutes. 15 is not enough. 15 is gone. I want to be famous for 16 minutes now. Fame is a pre-taste of immortality. People that are famous go down history and they’re remembered.’ Ultra Violet
It is with great sadness that we have learned that iconic gallery artist Ultra Violet, French-born Isabelle Collin Dufresne, passed away this weekend after an illustrious career that saw her inspiring cultural and artistic movements as well as contributing to them. Warhol “superstar” Ultra Violet was known not just for her very influential and engaging work, but also for her ultra cool, ultra creative, ultra exciting, ultra revolutionary, Ultra-Violet-personality.
Quickly integrating into the social scene of Pop and Surrealist artists’ upon her arrival to the US aged 16, Dufresne met Salvador Dalí becoming his muse and pupil. It was Dalí who introduced her to Andy Warhol in 1963 and the rest, as they say, is history.
For almost a decade, Ultra Violet (as she was christened) was an influential member of The Factory, Warhol’s legendary New York studio; inspiring works and starring in them. As an artist, actress and author, her impact on Pop Art is significant and undeniable. She appeared in 17 Warholian films and many more documentaries made later about the period, according to the New York Times, and her best seller memoir published in 1988, Famous For Fifteen Minutes: My Years With Andy Warhol, has been issued in seventeen different languages.
Ultra Violet was, herself, an extremely imaginative visual artist, and she continued to work under her pseudonym as an artist until her death. Her symbolic and vibrant mixed-media works are in the collections of the Museum Pompidou (Paris), the Knokke-Heist Museum (Belgium), and in the private collection of Whitney Museum trustee, Beth deWoody. Ultra Violet is represented in London by The Cynthia Corbett Gallery.
In May last year, Cynthia Corbett, director of The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, met Ultra Violet in her New York studio. It was then that Ultra Violet told Cynthia of her desire and great ambition to show her work in London, as (perhaps surprisingly) she had never done so before.
Ultra Violet’s work was debuted in London in October 2013 by The Cynthia Corbett Gallery at Multiplied, the contemporary art in editions fair hosted by Christie’s South Kensington. Ultra Violet’s art reflects a contemporary aesthetic; utilizing neon lights, computers and mirrors. Her iconic Self Portrait series which comprises acrylic casts of original Baroque frames and coloured mirrors etched with the words Self Portrait was then exhibited by The Cynthia Corbett Gallery at London Art Fair in January 2014, and Affordable Art Fair in Hampstead last week. Ultra Violet’s work is also on display at the Art At The Top exhibition presented by the Gallery at the Empire State Building, New York.
‘Every artist has done self portraits. But this is your self portrait, this is anyone, everyone’s self portrait. Dealing with the soul. Know thyself. It’s moving, each time you look into it you’re a different person, so, an hour later your gastric juices are different. It’s alive.’ Ultra Violet
Ultra Violet’s bright and brilliant work, made right up until her death, reveals an artist well aware that the world was evolving, and with it our understanding of life and self. In a statement for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Ultra Violet said that her artistic mission is to uplift, to nourish, to guide, and to heal. IXXI (Nine Eleven) was designed for the eyes, minds and hearts of the public.
Inspired by Robert Indiana’s iconic “Love” sculptures and spelling the numbers nine and eleven in Roman numerals, Ultra Violet’s IX XI sculpture was purchased by the Kucich family of Manhasset, New York and is currently on loan to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
The Cynthia Corbett Gallery screened exclusively the documentary Full Circle: Before They Were Famous which has not been released or widely seen in the UK. The documentary, made by William John Kennedy, had rarely been seen by the world or Kennedy’s subjects as the negatives had sat in a box for nearly 50 years. It chronicles the astonishing journey of the images taken by William John Kennedy in the early 60’s of Robert Indiana and Andy Warhol with their iconic works.
The Cynthia Corbett Gallery 10 Year Anniversary Group Exhibition will showcase Ultra Violet’s work at another prestigious London venue on Cork Street from 23 to 28 June, alongside the work of other Gallery artists.
Explore Ultra Violet’s intriguing artistry through her Everyone Deserves A ‘Self Portrait’ series of mirror installations on our Gallery Website.
‘Art used to be sacred and it’s no longer sacred, it’s secular. I think as an artist you have to try to do uplifting work, you have to propose something. We’re a spiritual being, with a body and I think we have to celebrate the spiritual. That’s my phylosophy. ‘ Ultra Violet
The light goes out; Isabelle exits; the curtain goes up…
Text by: Cristina Schek & Becky Guilor
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Notes to editors:
Ultra Violet presented by The Cynthia Corbett Gallery will be at the Gallery in Cork Street from 23 to 28 June 2014.
The Gallery in Cork Street, 28 Cork Street, London W1
Nearest Tube: Green Park
Hours: Daily 11am — 7pm or by appointment +44 (0) 20 8947 6782