Seeing Stars

What do Charlton Heston and Madonna have in common? They both worked as artist’s models in their struggling pre-fame days. I know what you’re all thinking; Madonna, yeah that makes sense. But Charlton Heston?? Among others, you can also add Mata Hari, Josephine Baker, and Sean Connery to the list. (Oh, crap. Did I just type Sean Connery? Great. Now my mother is going to read it, conjure up images of a young, buff Sean Connery in the nude, pass out from swooning, and I’ll have to drive over to her house with smelling salts to revive her, dutiful daughter that I am).

However, it’s a rare celebrity who will pose nude when they are already famous – not for a sexy magazine or a film role or strictly for publicity purposes – but for the purpose of art. I came across an article on the web recently about the British fashion model Kate Moss. Apparently she is engaged to a young rocker/artist named Jamie Hince and is posing nude for several of his paintings. Looks like the “artist-muse” dimension is entering their intimate relationship, with the potential to bring extra complications, emotional turbulence, mayhem, jealousy, and eventual destruction. Hey, I’m not wishing it upon them! I’m just basing it on the iron-clad historical evidence of calamitous artist-muse relationships I chronicle so exhaustively on this blog. Just kidding, folks 😆

But Kate Moss has had her taste of art modeling before. In 2002, she posed for the world-renowned painter Lucien Freud, grandson of Sigmund. It seems that during an interview with a style magazine, Kate said that her one still-unfulfilled aspiration in life was to pose for Lucien Freud. Freud read the interview and soon the project was set up between the eminent artist and fashion model. Excuse me- “supermodel”.

What’s most unusal about this (besides the fact that the 70 year-old artist was reading a fashion magazine) is that Moss was pregnant when she posed. So the famously waif-thin model appears much plumper than the public is used to seeing her:

But surely when it comes to depicting celebrities and famous faces, no artist can compete with the celebrity-obsessed, mass-market art purveyor Andy Warhol. His famous photo silkscreens are iconic representations of iconic figures in pop culture: Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Jackie O, even himself. I hesitated to post this Warhol portrait of Elizabeth Taylor because it wasn’t created from life – a fundamental requisite for all art posted on Museworthy. It’s really all I ask, is that too much? Style, artist, movement, medium don’t matter. Just be from life, dammit! But I like this one the best, and I am a fan of Liz, and I do want to make a point about celebrities as subjects for art. Plus I don’t want to be a hardass.

This is Warhol’s Liz, which sold at auction at Christie’s last November for $23 million. It was once owned by British actor Hugh Grant. Warhol used a still photograph of Taylor from her film Butterfield 8, for which she won an Academy Award.