Ultra Violet lights it up

Ultra Violet, the Andy Warhol “superstar” internationally known in the 1960s, demands more than her 15 minutes of fame.

“Today with the explosion of the media, the Internet, everybody has 15 minutes of fame. I’m trying to get 16 minutes, and it’s very hard,” she says. “Everybody has a camera, everybody has Facebook, everybody has a computer. If you can tell me how to get one more minute, let me know.”

Ultra Violet — born Isabelle Collin Dufresne 75 years ago in France — is here from New York for Art Basel, showing off her own works and helping launch a KIWI Gallery retrospective of photographer William John Kennedy, who long ago captured images of UV, Warhol and Robert Indiana, whose iconic LOVE poster became a symbol of the ’60s Pop Art movement.

In 1963, artist Salvador Dalí — Ultra Violet’s one-time mentor — introduced her to “this little woman, I thought.”

“Her hair was weird: black rattail in the back, white on the top. It was a synthetic nylon wig. And that person, which I thought was a woman had a very strange voice,” Ultra Violet recalls. “Anyway, Dalí introduced me, and he said, `This is Andy Warhol.’

“He was totally unknown then. Warhol said to me, `You are so beautiful, let’s do a movie together.’ I said when? He said tomorrow. Tomorrow, the next day, I went to The Factory [Warhol’s New York studio], and this was the beginning of a very interesting era.”

Among the photos on display at the KIWI Gallery off Lincoln Road: a series of Ultra Violet nudes shot by Kennedy almost a half-century ago.

“I have no regrets,” she now says. “But this was the ’60s and in the ’60s everybody got undressed. In 2010, you do not get undressed. Not the right people. We were the right people.”

Actually, UV wasn’t totally nude in Kennedy’s portraits. “I didn’t want to be completely naked,” she confides. “I needed something, so I [wore] one of his ties.”

Kennedy, 80, now of Miami Beach, says this is the first major exhibition of his work.


The images of photographer William John Kennedy, including Andy Warhol, Robert Indiana and Ultra Violet, are on display through Jan. 15 at KIWI Gallery, 1680 Michigan Ave., Ste. 100A, Miami Beach. The Kennedy documentary Full Circle: Before They Were Famous has its world premiere 8 p.m. Friday and will also be screened 5, 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday at The Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Rd. Free.


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