Palm Beach Art Exhibit Honors Andy Warhol Muse Jane Holzer

Jacek Gancarz

The exhibit, "To Jane, Love Andy: Warhol's First Superstar," is on view at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Fla., and runs through May 25.

Andy Warhol's cultural impact continues to be so enormous that members of his Factory collective, some of whom were plucked from his devoted flock for superstardom, are the subjects of their own museum shows. "To Jane, Love Andy: Warhol's First Superstar," which is on view at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Fla., through May 25, explores the prolific, symbiotic relationship between the artist and his stunning muse Jane Holzer, emphasized in its endearing title, a little note he jotted on works for her.

An Upper East Side socialite who lunched with author Anita Loos (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), as well as a Vogue model known for her iconic blond mane, Holzer was already an "It" girl dubbed Baby Jane when she bumped into Warhol in front of Bloomingdale's in the early '60s. Fascinated by each other's innate talents (he adored her style and charisma), they became fast friends and remained so until his death.

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One outgrowth of the pairing: Holzer became an art collector. "I'd always wanted to collect art but was intimidated by the French paintings owned by my parents' generation," says Holzer, who dived in once Warhol introduced her to his art dealer, Leo Castelli. "My lifelong passion for collecting started with Andy."

One of her initial purchases was from his Flowers silkscreen series. They're represented in the entertaining, multimedia show that begins with art including Brillo boxes, her silkscreen portrait and videos she starred in such as "Kiss." To capture the full story of their budding relationship and the era in general, the exhibit weaves in her glamorous magazine spreads and far-out designer fashions like a metal minidress by Paco Rabanne and a pair of pink sequin go-go boots. Warhol buffs who have seen it all will appreciate rare treats unearthed from his Time Capsules as part of the exhibit's collaboration with The Andy Warhol Museum.

"At the opening, a 93-year-old friend, who donated many works to the Whitney [Museum], said 'I have one just like it,' and I replied, "That's because it's yours!' " says Holzer, of the meticulous mining that left no stone unturned. "It was good practice for my involvement with the new Warhol museum in New York." (The Andy Warhol Museum is planning a Manhattan annex that is scheduled to open in 2017.)

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While Warhol didn't open up to many people, which led to more myths than facts, Holzer really got to know him. She watched as his curious nature devoured a Playbill cover to cover, and as his generosity kept an open tab at Max's Kansas City for starving artists since he worried they'd buy drugs with cash gifts. She also had a front-row seat to the rise of video art and cinema verite, realizing the latter genre's potential and encouraging her husband to produce the 1970 Rolling Stones documentary Gimme Shelter.

"I hope this show sheds some positive light on Andy's contributions and role as a friend," says Holzer, who luckily didn't go the way of some of his superstars who fell into drugs. "I don't have an addictive personality, except for art!"