Warhol’s ‘Beautiful Songs’

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Nico in Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests

 

Andy Warhol was in thrall to beauty,

glamour and charisma. His Screen Tests –

ravishing film portraits of Lou Reed, Susan Sontag,

Salvador Dalí and others –

are about the act of looking itself.

After Marcel Duchamp, who had thought of everything first, Andy Warhol was the 20th-century artist who worked hardest to efface himself from his own oeuvre. For sure, he remains the century’s most recognisable artist, his face a screen-print spectre that will not fade: the garrulous dowager of the Diaries did not lack for ego. But much of his art, and especially his films of the 1960s, was a celebration (also an anatomy) of his diverse milieu – a demimonde that, for a time at least, it seemed anyone could join. Had he lived into an era when fame means peddling your own line of perfume, there is no doubt what his would have been called: Andy Warhol’s Entourage.

Between 1964 and 1966, Andy Warhol trained his rapt and tireless gaze on the human face as if for the first time, shooting nearly 500 Screen Tests, beautiful and revealing portraits of hundreds of different individuals, from the famous to the anonymous, all visitors to his studio, the Factory. Subjects were captured in stark relief lit by one strong keylight, and filmed by Warhol with his stationary 16mm Bolex camera on silent, black and white, 100-foot rolls of film. Each two-and-a-half-minute film reel was screened in slow motion, rendering a ghostly collection of four-minute masterpieces both startling and mesmerizing.

Plexifilm is releasing “13 Most Beautiful…Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests” a 60 minute film featuring 13 of the tests (including Nico, Lou Reed, Edie Sedgwick, and Dennis Hopper).

 

Guardian

 

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~ by eaesthete on 02/11/09.

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