Her 15 Minutes at an End: Ultra Violet dead at 78

Ultra VioletIsabelle Collin Dufresne, known as Ultra Violet, died this morning after a battle with cancer. She was 78.

Dufresne was perhaps the most famous Mormon artist that most Mormons haven’t heard of. But at the height of the Pop Art movement and Andy Warhol’s Factory, Ultra Violet was well known in the New York art scene, and she is still well remembered for her memoir of that time, Famous For 15 Minutes: My Years with Andy Warhol.

Born in France in 1935, she met Salvador Dalí in 1954, becoming his muse and student. Then in the early 1960s Dufresne became interested in the Pop Art movement, and after Dalí introduced her to Andy Warhol in 1963, she became one of the participants in Warhol’s unorthodox studio, The Factory, and acted in more than a dozen films between 1965 and 1974. In 1969 she was replaced as Warhol’s primary “muse” and by the 1980s she left Warhol’s group.

After a 1973 near-death experience, Dufresne began a spiritual quest that eventually led to joining the LDS Church in 1981. She has been a participant in the New York City-based Mormon Artists Group in recent years, and has been well known among many members in her stake.

She is the author of three books and appeared in 19 films, including a small part in the academy award winning film Midnight Cowboy (1969).

22 comments for “Her 15 Minutes at an End: Ultra Violet dead at 78

  1. An icon and mainstay of the iconoclastic (and sorely missed) New York wards of the 80’s. Godspeed, Isabel.

  2. Attending her birthday party at the Red Zone (a club in Hell’s Kitchen) in the 80’s was my first experience with the surreal clash of cultures that defined her life and would come to define my own.
    -’til we meet…at that Heavenly Happening!

  3. WHat? Same reaction! Ultra Violet was Mormon? I am a huge Andy Warhol fan and followed the craziness of the Factory from books and films. I would never have guessed it. Thanks for the write-up!

  4. Sad to hear, she was one of a kind in her many different circles. Kents, any word on memorial services would be greatly appreciated.

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  6. The viewing will be Tuesday 6-9pm at Frank Campbell, Madison Avenue @ 81st Street.
    The service will be at 11am Wednesday at the LDS chapel on 87th Street between Second and Third Avenues.

  7. After showing her work in 1997 at AUDART in our 10 Years After – The Warhol Factory Exhibition that she could not attend, I finally met with and spent time with Ultra Violet in January of 2006, Some photos of that studio visit in Chelsea are at http://ictv1.com/art/artists/ultraviolet. A few years later I gave her a personal tour of Art Basel Miami and introduced her to some galleries I thought would be interested in her work. She was very prolific at that time and wanted to show. The next year she was in Art Basel and also the Palm Beach Art Show. Ultra was one of the most significant women in the world of art and film. I have been trying to edit the interview and time spent with her at Art Basel Miami 2008, the first year she showed there, but the work was put on hold due to my personal family issues. My deepest condolences to her family.

  8. Isabelle is a dear friend. I met her in a Sacrament meeting in a Manhattan ward late in the 80’s. She came up to me after a talk I gave and said, “That was a good talk, but I’m not sure you are right about one thing.” We became good friends. I introduced her to a fellow LDS friend, poet-librettist John Stirling Walker, and a composer partner of ours, David Conte. John and David wrote an opera, Famous, based upon her book. She and I spent much time together while she was writing the book. She loved the opera and linked its website (http://famoustheopera.com) to hers (www.UltraVioletWeb.com). She would be thrilled to see it produced. I love her. I salute her. Thank you for a life beautifully lived, dear Isabelle!

  9. Ultra Violet was a visionary artist who was always deeply connected with the heavens above. Through her art, Ultra Violet made a positive difference nationally and internationally in her quest for world peace.

  10. Here is the documentary mentioned in the Obituary in which she discussed her finding faith after Warhol:

  11. I’m glad she was with our Thanksgiving celebration last year. We hadn’t seen each other for years and recently reconnected. She was to have Easter dinner with us this year but emailed and said she was in the hospital and couldn’t attend. She was a dear, sweet, funny, intellectual, brilliant person. I will miss her

  12. always remember we had wonderful lobster dinner in Hampton, and doing Chinese grocery shopping in Chinatown… TianTangBaoZhong!

  13. What a vibrant and amazing person. And hers was a unique and inspiring spiritual journey. Au revoir, et non pas adieu, chere amie.

  14. 28 years ago we met, and she never slowed down. Indeed, she seemed to increase in activity in recent years. She was fascinated with a verse of scripture that implied that the purpose of creation was to act or be acted upon, and she wanted to be counted among those who act. I think she earned that distinction, if only for being open and genuine in befriending so many people.

  15. I wish I could have gone to her funeral today at 11. That would have been amazing.

    Her conversion story reminds me of Arthur Killer Kane’s conversion and film. I can only imagine that her funeral and his had similar markings: one side of the foyer had Mormon conservative crowd and the other side the trendy artsy crowd. I WISH I could have been there to witness this. I know those in the audience today included very artistic and important people. I know their hearts were touched by the sermons in the chapel there in Manhattan which is also the site of the Temple, making it even more holy and sacred of a place. I know hearts were touched. I hope each carried away a bit of something of light regarding the restored gospel, inspiring them to learn more – so their lives can be blessed by it.

    I loved Ultra Violet. My roommate in the 80’s was her visiting teacher. so I went to her apartment and saw her Andy Warhol paintings she has hanging in her living room. I remember she had a copper metal plating on her refrigerator, which I found so unique, it matched the light fixture large bowl fixture hanging from the ceiling. I also recall having I sewed a crushed velvet cape with violet flower print for her at her request. She came to my apartment across from the UN in Manhattan. I am very glad to have known her, she certainly enriched my life by her presence in it. I applaud her courage for abandoning her past to take up her cross and join the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and endure til the end of her life.

    Bless You Ulltra Violet! You Will Be Missed. Till We Meet Again! Adieu!!

  16. done a movie with her : message to andy Warhol.
    Ultra is faced Andy Warhol and she talks to him and we follow them along à disconcerting journey into various Virtuals worlds..
    God bless you my sweet Ultra.

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