Andy Warhol  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Andy Warhol (August 6, 1928February 22, 1987) was an American artist, a central figure in the movement known as Pop Art. After a sucessful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became famous worldwide for his work as a painter, an avant-garde filmmaker, a record producer, an author and a public figure known for his presence in wildly diverse social circles that included bohemian street people, distinguished intellectuals, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy aristocrats.

A controversial figure during his lifetime (his work was often derided by critics as a hoax or "put-on"), Warhol has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, books and documentary films since his death in 1987. He is generally acknowledged as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century.

He founded the magazine Interview.

Films

Warhol worked across a wide range of media — painting, photography, drawing, and sculpture. In addition, he was a highly prolific filmmaker. Between 1963 and 1968, he made more than sixty films. One of his most famous films, Sleep (1963), monitors poet John Giorno sleeping for six hours. The 35-minute film Blow Job (1963) is one continuous shot of the face of DeVerne Bookwalter supposedly receiving oral sex, although the camera never tilts down to see this. Another, Empire (1964), consists of eight hours of footage of the Empire State Building in New York City at dusk.

Batman Dracula is a 1964 film that was produced and directed by Warhol, without the permission of DC Comics. It was screened only at his art exhibits. A fan of the Batman series, Warhol's movie was an "homage" to the series, and is considered the first appearance of a blatantly campy Batman. The film was until recently thought to have been lost, until scenes from the picture were shown at some length in the 2006 documentary Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis.

Warhol's 1965 film Vinyl is an adaptation of Anthony Burgess' popular dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange. Others record improvised encounters between Factory regulars such as Brigid Berlin, Viva, Edie Sedgwick, Candy Darling, Holly Woodlawn, Ondine, Nico, and Jackie Curtis. Legendary underground artist Jack Smith appears in the film Camp.

His most popular and critically successful film was Chelsea Girls (1966). The film was highly innovative in that it consisted of two 16 mm films being projected simultaneously, with two different stories being shown in tandem. From the projection booth, the sound would be raised for one film to elucidate that "story" while it was lowered for the other. Then it would be the other film's turn to bask in the glory of sound. The multiplication of images evoked Warhol's seminal silk-screen works of the early 1960s. The influence of the film's split-screen, multi-narrative style could be felt in such modern work as Mike Figgis' Timecode and, however indirectly, the early seasons of 24.

Other important films include Bike Boy (1967-1968), My Hustler (1965) and Lonesome Cowboys (1968), a raunchy pseudo-Western. These and other titles document gay underground and camp culture, and continue to feature prominently in scholarship about sexuality and art - see, for example, Mathew Tinkom's Working Like a Homosexual (Duke University Press, 2002) or Juan Suarez's Bike Boys, Drag Queens, and Superstars (Indiana University Press, 1996). Blue Movie, a film in which Warhol superstar Viva makes love and fools around in bed with a man for 33 minutes of the film's playing-time, was Warhol's last film as director. The film was at the time scandalous for its frank approach to a sexual encounter. For many years Viva refused to allow it to be screened. It was publicly screened in New York in 2005 for the first time in over thirty years.

After his June 3, 1968 shooting, a reclusive Warhol relinquished his personal involvement in filmmaking. His acolyte and assistant director, Paul Morrissey, took over the film-making chores for the Factory collective, steering Warhol-branded cinema towards more mainstream, narrative-based, B-movie exploitation fare with Flesh, Trash, and Heat. All of these films, including the later Andy Warhol's Dracula and Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, were far more mainstream than anything Warhol as a director had attempted. These latter "Warhol" films starred Joe Dallesandro, who was more of a Morrissey star than a true Warhol superstar.

In order to facilitate the success of these Warhol-branded, Morrissey-directed movies in the marketplace, all of Warhol's earlier avant-garde films were removed from distribution and exhibition by 1972.

Another film, Bad, made significant impact as a "Warhol" film yet was directed by Jed Johnson. Bad starred the infamous Carroll Baker and a young Perry King.

The first volume of a catalogue raisonne for the Factory film archive, edited by Callie Angell, was published in the spring of 2006.

Selected

Filmography

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Andy Warhol" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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