Born in Pittsburgh (United States), 1928
Decease on 1987 in New York
Very active in: 60s, 70s, 80s

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Born Andrew Warhola. American artist and filmmaker, a founder and leading exponent of the Pop art movement of the 1960s whose mass-produced art apotheosized the supposed banality of the commercial culture of the United States. A talented self-publicist, he projected a concept of the artist as an impersonal figure who is nevertheless a successful celebrity, businessman, and social climber.

Warhol began painting in the late 1950s and received sudden notoriety in 1962, when he exhibited paintings of Campbell's soup cans, Coca-Cola bottles, and wooden replicas of Brillo soap pad boxes. By 1963 he was mass-producing these purposely mundane images of consumer goods by means of photographic silk screen prints, and he then began printing endless variations of portraits of celebrities in garish colours.
The silk screen technique was ideally suited to Warhol, for the repeated image was reduced to an insipid and dehumanized cultural icon that reflected both the supposed emptiness of American material culture and the artist's emotional non-involvement with the practice of his art. Warhol's work placed him in the forefront of the emerging Pop art movement in America.

As the 1960s progressed, Warhol devoted more of his energy to filmmaking (usually classified as underground films). Warhol's prolific output, which ran to many hundreds of films, some only discovered after his death, was all produced between 1963 and 1968. These half-dozen years can be loosely divided into three phases.

First, from 1963 to late 1964 he made a plethora of slow-projected (16 fps), silent, short black-and-white films shot on a Bolex - the favourite lightweight camera of avant-garde and documentary film-makers. The camera was static and the shooting unedited, the film's length determined by the length of the reel.
Second, from 1964 Warhol used the Auricon camera with its built-in sound system (perversely, it was first used for the silent epic Empire). This was an intense, fertile period in which the slow-motion aesthetic gave way to a form of modernist 'theatre'.
These films were often around 70 minutes in length, consisting of two single-take reels, each just over 30 minutes long - for instance, Wein's Beauty or Tavel's Kitchen. The high point was probably reached with the commercially and critically successful The Chelsea Girls. The third phase is brief and not as distinctive, but it expresses a wider ambition and a realist clarity of narrative. In many ways it was an attempt to build on the commercial success of The Chelsea Girls under the driving force of the young Paul Morrissey, who disparaged the early 'art' films. The first step in this direction was My Hustler; notable films of the period include Nude Restaurant and Lonesome Cowboys. Other movies are known for their inventive eroticism, plotless boredom, and inordinate length (up to 25 hours).

Throughout the 1970s and until his death he continued to produce prints depicting political and Hollywood celebrities, and he involved himself in a wide range of advertising illustrations and other commercial art projects. The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, published in 1975, was followed by Portraits of the Seventies (1979) and Andy Warhol's Exposures (1979).


Andy Warhol's silent films were shot at the sound speed of 24 frames per second and, during the 1960s, projected at the speed of 16 fps resulting in slow motion. The industry standard for silent films increased to 18 fps around 1969-71 meaning that today Warhol's silent films are usually projected at that speed - still in slow motion but not as slow as during the 1960s.

Many of Warhol's movies show an interaction between the lack of subject and the suspicion of the impossibility of reaching a coherent story. The dialectic frequently unfolds between the attempt to define the artist's meaning and the tacit assumption that the films will not provide the means to do so. The impassivity and resistance to interpretation created by the repetitive and randomly applied images define Warhol's journey into cinematic art.
Warhol projected his own image in his films, the perspective of his gay male subjectivity or relation to "trans-gendered" sexuality, adding his associations with music and fashion. He manipulated the press to first reach the underground and moved from there into the mainstream of popular culture. No analysis of Warhol's films should attempt a synthesis and ignoring all the inherent contradictions and clashes of Warhol's many aspirations.

During his lifetime, Warhol did not make his video-archives available, and by the early 1970's the majority of his films had been withdrawn from circulation in the United States. His filmography encompasses 200 movies and 470 screen tests, and some have still not been released. The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the Andy Warhol Foundation recently started a fund to index, restore, and redistribute the films.

"I never fall apart because I never fall together." - Andy Warhol

Ref Extra : The Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh , USA)

- Written & Compiled by Christophe Le Choismier - Please Email us for comments or suggestions -

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    Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Louise Bourgeois, Cindy Sherman, Nam June Paik, Mark Kostabi and others by Paul Tschinkel