December 12, 2019

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Warhol’s Liz and Marilyn: a close look at two of Andy Warhol’s muses

25 September, 2015

William John Kennedy, Homage to Warhol’s Marilyn, 1964, East 47th Street Factory, New York City, gelatin silver print, from William John Kennedy: The Warhol Museum Edition. Courtesy of and

On view at the Jewish Museum from September 25, 2015 to February 7, 2016, Becoming Jewish: Warhol’s Liz and Marilyn presents a close look at two of Andy Warhol’s muses, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, exploring the Jewish identities of Warhol’s most celebrated subjects. Both Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor converted to Judaism in the 1950s. Warhol was fascinated by their star power and used publicity stills to create his now iconic portraits in the early 1960s. This intimate, single-gallery exhibition features several portraits of these renowned actresses alongside a large selection of photographs, letters, and ephemera, shedding new light on their relationships
with Judaism and Warhol’s interest in celebrity culture.

In 1959, at the age of 27, Elizabeth Taylor converted to Judaism in a ceremony at Temple Israel in Hollywood. She considered converting to Judaism prior to her marriage to theater and film producer Mike Todd, but it wasn’t until after Todd’s death that she began to study with Rabbi Max Nussbaum at Temple Israel. Taylor remained an  ardent supporter of Jewish causes throughout her life. Prior to her wedding to playwright Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe expressed interest in converting to Judaism. She was impressed with Jewish ideals and she studied with Miller’s rabbi, Robert Goldburg, to learn more about Judaism. Rabbi Goldburg performed Monroe’s Ceremony of Conversion preceding the couple’s wedding in June 1956. Although Monroe and Miller divorced in 1961, Monroe expressed to the rabbi her unwavering commitment to the Jewish faith.

Becoming Jewish: Warhol’s Liz and Marilyn is divided into three sections – “Celebrity,” focused on Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor’s public image; “Conversion,” detailing their personal lives and Jewish identities; and “Myth & Legend,” exploring Andy Warhol’s fascination with these celebrities and the impact of his work on their iconic status.


25 September, 2015
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