Andy Warhol b Andrew Warhola Forest City Pennsylvania August d February

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Probably the best-known American artist of the twentieth century, Andy Warhol studied commercial art at Carnegie Mellon University. In 1949 he moved to New York City and carved out a career as an advertising artist. In the early 1960s Warhol became a pioneer of pop art by creating paintings that showcased the most ubiquitous icons of American popular culture: Campbell's Soup cans, Brillo boxes, celebrities such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. With his paintings and silkscreens in high demand, Warhol established the Factory, a workshop and hangout where he supervised "art workers'' in the making of Warhol "originals." The subjects of his art were the mass media and mass production, and the art was created on the Factory's improvisational assembly line.

A neglected aspect of Warhol's 1960s artistic production was his work in experimental film. Just as his graphic art used simplicity to challenge notions of "art," Warhol's avant-garde films embraced the realist aesthetic strategies of the putative fathers of cinema, Louis and Auguste Lumiere. Warhol returned to cinema's zero point by setting up a 16mm camera and encouraging the artsy types who inhabited the Factory to perform for the lens. Sometimes Warhol commissioned writers (most notably off-off-Broadway playwright Ronald Tavel) to provide screenplays, but usually the Factory crew filmed with just a central conceit—open to extended improvisation—as a rough guide. In Kiss (1963), Warhol showcased various couples (hetero- and homosexual) kissing, each for the three-minute length of the camera magazine; Sleep (1963) uses a few camera angles to photograph poet John Giorno's body as he slumbers. Warhol's films had a profound effect on avant-garde film practice of the 1960s, especially the decade's structural filmmakers.

Warhol's movies of the mid-1960s built on the simple structures of his earlier work. Inner and Outer Space

(1965) juxtaposes ghostly video images of Warhol "superstar" Edie Sedgwick with film footage of her commenting on her own video reflection, while Chelsea Girls (1966), which played commercially in New York City, uses two screens to depict the inhabitants of the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan. Warhol's epic was perhaps **** (Four Stars, 1966-1967), a twenty-five-hour explosion of superimpositions (two projectors fired footage simultaneously on the same screen) that was shown only once and then disassembled.

After Warhol was shot and almost killed by Valerie Solanas in June 1968, he stopped making films. Instead, he farmed out the Factory's filmmaking activities to his protege, Paul Morrissey, who went on to direct several Warhol-influenced but more mainstream features, including Flesh (1968), Trash (1970), Heat (1972), Flesh for Frankenstein (1973), and Blood for Dracula (1974).

RECOMMENDED VIEWING

Kiss (1963), Sleep (1963), Empire (1964), Poor Little Rich Girl (1965), My Hustler (1965), Chelsea Girls (1966), The Nude Restaurant (1967), Blue Movie (1969)

FURTHER READING

Gidal, Peter. Andy Warhol: Films and Paintings. New York: Dutton, 1971.

Koch, Stephen. Stargazer: Andy Warhol's World and His Films.

2nd ed. New York: M. Boyars, 1985. Koestenbaum, Wayne. Andy Warhol. New York: Penguin, 2001.

O'Pray, Michael, ed. Andy Warhol: Film Factory. London:

British Film Institute, 1989. Warhol, Andy. The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again). New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975.

Craig Fischer while Menken herself described Go! Go! Go! (1962-1964) as ''a time-lapse record of a day in the life of a city.''

Radical content as well as form was common in the postwar avant-garde, particularly films that addressed homosexual desire. Probably the most famous ''queer'' experimental filmmaker of this period is Kenneth Anger, who made the trailblazing Fireworks at the age of seventeen. Fireworks is a mélange of same-sex flirtation, sadomasochism, and sailors; the film's finale features a sailor lighting a Roman candle (firework) in his crotch. (Fireworks was shown several times at Cinema 16, often as part of a "Forbidden Films'' program, and Amos

Andy Warhol. photo by rex features/everett collection. reproduced by permission.

Andy Warhol. photo by rex features/everett collection. reproduced by permission.

Vogel also distributed Anger's work.) Anger's epic Scorpio Rising (1963) connects gay desire and satanism—for Anger (as for Jean Genet), being gay means repudiating traditional norms and embracing the subversive and decadent—and the film juxtaposes a chronicle of California biker culture with a pop-rock soundtrack in ways that, like Conner's works, anticipate music videos. Anger's films treat homosexuality as inherently transgressive; in contrast, many of Gregory Markopoulos's (1928-1992) works place same-sex desire in a classical context. The Iliac Passion (1967), for example, features several members of the 1960s New York gay demimonde—Andy Warhol, Jack Smith, Taylor Mead—cast as mythic characters such as Poseidon and Orpheus. Markopoulos also pioneered a single-frame, scattershot approach to editing that made his films tightly wound, dense fabrics of allusions, classical and otherwise.

As Markopoulos explored the deep connections between sexuality and myth, Jack Smith turned popular culture into his own queer playground. Soon after meeting experimental filmmakers Ken Jacobs (b. 1933) and Bob Fleischner in a film class at the City College of New York in 1956, Smith collaborated with Jacobs on a series of films—including Star Spangled to Death (1958/2004) and Little Stabs at Happiness (1959)—that ditch plot and instead allow Smith to improvise personas for the camera. Both the charm and narcissism of this approach finds its perfect expression in Jacobs, Fleischner, and Smith's Blonde Cobra (1963), where Smith delivers a monologue to his image in a mirror. After a falling out with Jacobs, Smith directed several films himself, the most notorious being Flaming Creatures (1963), a mad chronicle of a pansexual orgy, complete with simulated rape and faux-earthquake, that was declared obscene in New York Criminal Court. Even while Smith worked on such films as the unfinished Normal Love (begun 1964) and No President (1968), he increasingly shifted his energies to performance art, letting his love of Z-grade Hollywood stars (especially the beloved Maria Montez) and radical politics run rampant in theater pieces, slide shows, and ''expanded cinema'' experiences such as I Was a Male Yvonne de Carlo for the Lucky Landlord Underground (1982).

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