Andy Warhol had many muses, but Baby Jane was unlike any other. Jane Holzer, aka Baby Jane, had a style different from Liz Taylor or Marilyn Monroe. She was a “privileged blond with a pout to die for.”
Holzer grew up in an affluent Palm Beach real-estate family and modeled for fashion magazines like Vogue. In the summer of 1963, Jane Holzer was “catapulted to fame” by photographer, David Bailey. She became the ‘it-girl.” Women’s Wear Daily columnist, Carol Bjorkman nicknamed her, Baby Jane after the film, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, without either of them ever having seen it. The name stuck.
Holzer worked with the shockingly white-blond bespectacled Warhol at his studio, the legendary Factory that drew every type of free spirit and artist. She was already an established model, and he was absorbed on film production. Considered Warhol’s first superstar and confidant, Baby Jane Holzer held the remarkable role in the understanding of Warhol as a prophetic artist and almost cult personality.
For his part, Warhol benefited from Holzer’s status and social connections. An aspiring actress, Holzer took part in his experimental films, Kiss (1963), Batman and Dracula (1964), Couch, The Thirteen Most Beautiful Women (1964) and Soap Opera (1964). She also was involved with Warhol’s Screen Tests, short two-and-a-half minute films featuring studio regulars. These films became an extension of his portraiture work, highlighting Warhol’s love of interpreting people. In 1964, Writer Tom Wolfe wrote an essay on Holzer called, The Girl of the Year, which spoke of the frenzy surrounding Warhol’s muse.
The Norton Museum of Art, in collaboration with The Andy Warhol Museum presents To Jane, Love Andy: Warhol’s First Superstar until May 25th, 2014. This multimedia exhibition explores the evolution and bond between muse, Baby Jane Holzer and Andy Warhol from 1962 to ‘65. Over 100 art objects will be on display, including Warhol prints of “Baby Jane,” paintings and other artworks, plus letters to the pop artist.
Part of the exhibit is a 1965 interview with the BBC in black-and-white filmed at the Factory that included Screen Tests featuring Holzer and other noteworthy celebrities like Dennis Hopper and Lou Reed. It also highlights rarely seen materials from his Time Capsules. Fashions from Holzer’s modeling career, along with photographs by photographers such as Irving Penn and David Bailey, are also on exhibit.
Visitors have the chance to make their own “Screen Test,” allowing them the experience of the same challenges faced by the stars in Warhol’s shorts – sitting for three minutes without blinking. Screen tests are posted on a custom web page that can later be shared via social media outlets.
Holzer stayed away from the Factory when Warhol’s social circle descended into a perilous time of drugs and madness “between Edie’s arrival and when Andy got shot” in 1968. However, she remained friends with him until his death in 1987.
According to Hope Alswang, Executive Director of the Norton Museum, both Warhol and Holzer occupied a unique place in American Pop culture. Andy Warhol was “the epitome of the avant-garde,” and his muse, Baby Jane was “the epitome of style.”
By Dawn Levesque