Known as Warhol’s Muse, Edie Sedgwick Was an Artist Herself

For the first time, a trove of her previously unseen art is going to auction

Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick
Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick Photo by John Springer Collection / Corbis via Getty Images

Edie Sedgwick was the “It Girl” of the mid-1960s. Known primarily as pop artist Andy Warhol’s muse, she starred in many of his movies, including Poor Little Rich Girl, Vinyl and Chelsea Girls.

Her fame was a bright flash in the pan, spanning just a few short years until her death in 1971, at age 28. But in that time, her celebrity reached mythic proportions and propelled Warhol’s career to the next level. Several Bob Dylan songs, including Like a Rolling Stone and Just Like A Woman, are rumored to be about Sedgwick; so is the Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale. 

“No party in New York is considered a success unless they are there,” host Merv Griffin declared in a 1965 episode of his talk show, before bringing out Warhol and Sedgwick.

Now, her previously unseen artworks are up for auction, along with some of her correspondence, as part of a larger collection titled “Marvels of Modern Music.” Also for sale are items related to other luminaries, including the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Elvis Presley.

A photo of Edie Sedwick
A photo of Sedgwick working on a clay horse at Lily Saarinen's art studio Courtesy of RR Auction

Public fascination with Sedgwick and her role as Warhol’s muse has endured through the years: In 1982, the biography Edie: American Girl became a best-seller. The 2006 film Factory Girl chronicled Sedgwick’s life and relationships with Warhol and Dylan. And earlier this year, the late star’s sister published a new biography, As It Turns Out: Thinking About Edie and Andy.

Still, many don’t know that Sedgwick was also an artist: She painted, drew, and dabbled in sculpture.

The artworks for sale show a side of Sedgwick not often explored in popular narratives about her life. A semi-nude self-portrait she painted during the height of her fame shows a softer side of the starlet: The painting is calm and graceful, and Sedgwick looks statuesque. The piece is estimated to fetch as much as $40,000.

A self-portrait by Sedgwick
A self-portrait by Sedgwick RR Auction

The auction, which closes on November 17, includes 15 artworks by Sedgwick. It also features letters between Sedgwick’s mother and her cousin Lily Saarinen, as well as a photograph of Sedgwick at work on a sculpture in her studio.

Sedgwick began drawing at an early age, and Saarinen was her teacher for several months.

“She was the most talented young person I’ve taught art to,” Saarinen said, according to a statement from RR Auction. “Pretty soon my life was Edie because I couldn’t do anything else. She worked frantically. She wanted to do a horse. She said she’d ridden them all her life and knew every inch of them.”

A sketch of a horse
A sketch of a horse completed in 1961, when Sedgwick was either 17 or 18 Courtesy of RR Auction

Sedgwick had an isolated, tumultuous childhood, and she spoke openly about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, Francis Sedgwick, a horse rancher and sculptor.

On her father’s ranch, as Artnet’s Caroline Goldstein writes, “Edie developed a knack for sketching, capturing her beloved horses in charcoal, and dreaming of escaping on horseback from her unhappy circumstances.”

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