The Films of Andy Warhol

Date: 12 February 2002 | Season: Andy Warhol Tate

12 February–24 March 2002
London Tate Modern & The Scala

A season of films to accompany the exhibition Warhol, at Tate Modern, 7 February – 1 April 2002, sponsored by UBS Warburg.

Though obsessed since childhood with Hollywood and stardom, it was not until the peak of his fame that Warhol turned his creative energy to film. During an explosive five-year period from 1963–68, he released over 60 films which range from silent, fixed-frame conceptual works through to contemporary commercial ‘sexploitation’ films. His reputation shifted from being the world’s most notorious artist to being the best-known director of ‘underground movies’.

Warhol’s studio, the Factory, was already a meeting place for New York’s artistic elite and underground subculture, and this mixture of high and low society provided a unique repertory of screen characters. Extroverts such Warhol’s assistant Gerard Malanga and the doomed socialite Edie Sedgwick, were brought together with members of New York’s avant-garde film and theatre movements to star in both improvised and scripted films.

The films have gone largely unseen since Warhol withdrew them from circulation in 1972 and this long-overdue season will be a chance to assess their cultural and historical significance. Rising from the fresh explosion of pop art, and crossing the boundaries of entertainment, conceptualism and the avant- garde, the films of Andy Warhol are first class art, and top entertainment.

The Films of Andy Warhol is curated by Mark Webber. With thanks to Callie Angell, Nina Caplan, Al Rees, Michael O’Pray and Silver Smith.

The films of Andy Warhol are distributed by the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Channel 4 will broadcast a new series of three documentaries on Warhol beginning 27 January 2002.


Kiss + Soap Opera

Date: 12 February 2002 | Season: Andy Warhol Tate

Tuesday 12 February 2002, at 6:30pm
London Tate Modern

Two early episodic films: unreal erotic slow motion and daytime tv for night-time people.

Andy Warhol, Kiss, USA, 1963, 54 min
Andy Warhol, Soap Opera, USA, 1964, 46 min

Two episodic films which illustrate Warhol’s unique early cinematic style. His silent movies were shot at sound speed and screened one-third the pace, imparting an unreal, poetic/erotic slow motion. Kiss is a series of high contrast, static shots of couples kissing, each lasting the length of a roll of film. Warhol experiments with the soap opera format by punctuating his own dramatic sequences with actual television commercials.

Eat + Henry Geldzahler

Date: 17 February 2002 | Season: Andy Warhol Tate

Sunday 17 February 2002, at 3:00pm
London Tate Modern

Minimal portraits of figures from the New York art world.

Andy Warhol, Eat, USA, 1964, 39 min
Andy Warhol, Henry Geldzahler, USA, 1964, 99 min

Two slow motion, minimal portraits of figures from the New York art world. Artist Robert Indiana eats, and the former curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art smokes a cigar. Eat consists of several short rolls assembled out of order so the consumed mushroom occasionally renews itself. During the course of his extended portrait Geldzahler’s initial poise descends into discomfort and self-consciousness.

Blow Job + Horse

Date: 19 February 2002 | Season: Andy Warhol Tate

Tuesday 19 February 2002, at 6:30pm
London Tate Modern

The Factory as haven and outlet for homosexual expression.

Andy Warhol, Blow Job, USA, 1963, 41 min
Andy Warhol, Horse, USA, 1965, 100 min

Warhol’s Factory provided both a haven and outlet for overt homosexual expression. The notorious (but inoffensive) Blow Job is a single sustained close-up of an anonymous boy’s face as someone, out of camera range, performs fellatio on him: all of the action takes place below the frame. Horse exposes the machinery of cinema as the lights, microphone and studio surroundings remain in shot. The film foreshadows Lonesome Cowboys (1967-68) as a camp parody of the western, revealing the genre’s concealed homoeroticism.

Harlot + Screen Test #2

Date: 24 February 2002 | Season: Andy Warhol Tate

Sunday 24 February 2002, at 3:00pm
London Tate Modern

Early sound films from the Silver Factory.

Andy Warhol, Harlot, USA, 1964, 67 min
Andy Warhol, Screen Test #2, USA, 1965, 67 min

Harlot was Warhol’s first sound film, but subversively the sound is disconnected and consists of an out of frame discussion between Ronald Tavel, Billy Name and English poet Harry Fainlight. On screen four superstars (and a cat) eat bananas in an exotic tableaux vivant. Tavel directs Screen Test #2, commanding the transvestite star Mario Montez, who executes a tragic but convincing performance in the face of mockery and scorn.

Camp + Paul Swan

Date: 3 March 2002 | Season: Andy Warhol Tate

Sunday 3 March 2002, at 3:00pm
London Tate Modern

Thoroughly Modern Vaudeville.

Andy Warhol, Camp, USA, 1965, 67 min
Andy Warhol, Paul Swan, USA, 1965, 66 min

Paul Swan, a pioneer of modern dancing who had been frequently billed “the most beautiful man in the world”, performs for the camera in his twilight years. His tragi-comic film brings to mind the uncompromising theatrical productions of Jack Smith. Both appear in Camp, an incredible underground variety show that also stars Baby Jane Holzer, Tally Brown, Mario Montez and Gerard Malanga.

Beauty #2 + Space

Date: 5 March 2002 | Season: Andy Warhol Tate

Tuesday 5 March 2002, at 6:30pm
London Tate Modern

Scenes from the life of Edie Sedgwick.

Andy Warhol, Beauty #2, USA, 1965, 66 min
Andy Warhol, Space, USA, 1965, 67 min

Further portraits of socialite and muse Edie Sedgwick. In Beauty #2 she auditions a new boyfriend as an off-screen acquaintance provokes her with snide comments and questions, initiating a complex psychological situation. Space begins with a planned scenario in which different characters read eight unconnected scripts, but soon degenerates into casual talk, food fights and folk singing.

Vinyl + My Hustler

Date: 10 March 2002 | Season: Andy Warhol Tate

Sunday 10 March 2002, at 3:00pm
London Tate Modern

Factory favourites starring Gerard Malanga and Paul America.

Andy Warhol, Vinyl, USA, 1965, 66 min
Andy Warhol, My Hustler, USA, 1965, 67 min

Based on an interpretation of Anthony Burgess’ novel “A Clockwork Orange”, Vinyl has a claustrophobic, sado-masochistic script by Ronald Tavel. Gerard Malanga undergoes reconditioning for his transgressions as a juvenile delinquent. My Hustler is a first attempt at a more commercial film, with some concession towards conventional techniques. A sexual triangle competes for the attention of Paul America, a young stud ordered from the Dial-A-Hustler service.

Sunset + Imitation of Christ

Date: 12 March 2002 | Season: Andy Warhol Tate

Tuesday 12 March 2002, at 6:30pm
London Tate Modern

Sections from the 25-hour double screen movie ****.

Andy Warhol, Sunset, USA, 1967, 33 min
Andy Warhol, Imitation of Christ, USA, 1967-69, 85 min

Warhol’s recording of a beautiful California sunset was one of an unfinished series commissioned by art patrons Jean and Dominique de Menil, and visually echoes their Rothko Chapel. Nico reads poetry on the soundtrack. Imitation of Christ is a domestic comedy about a strange but beautiful young man who wanders through life oblivious to the complaints of his parents (Ondine and Brigid Polk) and the attempted seductions of his maid (Nico), his girlfriend (Andrea “Whips” Feldman) and the riotous antics of Taylor Mead.  Edited down to feature-length from the 6-hour version included in Warhol’s 25-hour double screen film **** (1967).

Poor Little Rich Girl + Lupe

Date: 17 March 2002 | Season: Andy Warhol Tate

Sunday 17 March 2002, at 3:00pm
London Tate Modern

At home with Edie Sedgwick.

Andy Warhol, Poor Little Rich Girl, USA, 1965, 33 min (double screen)
Andy Warhol, Lupe, USA, 1965, 73 min

Warhol spoke of filming twenty-four hours in the life of Edie Sedgwick and these two films may have formed part of the project. Each shows the 1965 Girl of the Year at home, waking up, applying make-up, getting dressed. One reel of Poor Little Rich Girl is inexplicably, but doubtless intentionally, out of focus. Lupe, shot in sumptuous colour, alludes to a re-enactment of the tragic death of actress Lupe Velez, as Edie ends each reel slumped over a toilet bowl.