Andy Warhol’s Cinema: A Mirror to the Sixties

Andy Warhol’s Cinema: A Mirror to the Sixties

“Warhol’s Cinema” from The Factory: 1963-1968

Warhol’s Cinema is a 1989 BBC-TV Channel 4 documentary about a number of films made Andy Warhol in the 1960s. During the five year span of his obsession with films, Warhol made more than 50 films between 1963-1968. Most of his movies were 16-millimeter films and included Chelsea Girls, Empire, Sleep, Kiss, My Hustler and Lonesome Cowboys. He made many of the films in his mid-town studio, known as The Factory, where the young people in his offbeat cortège, alternately beautiful and bizarre, spent much or most of their time. That group of followers included, among many others, Baby Jane Holzer, Gerard Malanga, Paul America, Holly Woodlawn, Joe Dellasandro, Chuck Weir and Edie Sedgwick.

Warhol’s Shiny Silver Tin-Foil Factory

Andy Warhol’s original Factory was often thought of as the Silver Factory by the people who came to derive a sense of attachment from being involved in or even just hanging around the sense of creative excitement that was evolving there. This was amplified by the national social (and political) landscape at that time, where fragmentation was gaining increasing momentum. The sense of excitement around the Factory derived, to a large degree, from an energized feeling that it was possible to openly embrace a range of experiences that had previously been socially forbidden.

In this way, the shiny, shimmering silver represented the decadence of the scene, as well as the “proto-glam” of the early sixties. Silver, fractured mirrors and tin foil were the basic decorating materials loved by the early amphetamine users of the sixties. By combining the industrial structure of his unfurnished Factory art studio with the glitter of silver and what it represented, Warhol was commenting on American values, as he did so often in his art. The years spent at the Factory were known as the Silver Era, not solely because of its design, but also because of the decadent and carefree lifestyle full of money, parties, drugs and fame.

The Factory became a meeting place for a large number of artists and musicians such as Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Brian Jones, Truman Capote, Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti Smith, William Burroughs, Baby Jane Holzer, Anita Pallenberg, Philip Johnson and Mick Jagger. Other, less frequent visitors included Salvador Dalí, Tennessee Williams and Allen Ginsberg. At the same time, Warhol collaborated with Lou Reed’s influential New York rock band, The Velvet Underground, and in 1965 he designed the famous cover for The Velvet Underground & Nico, the band’s debut album. Paradoxically, however, no matter how rose-colored the glasses, the silvery glitter was after all only tawdry tin foil. In this sense, Warhol had built a sham to reflect the broader social sham that he claimed to be rejecting. Unfortunately, many members of his Factory entourage took the sham for real and paid dearly for it in or with their lives.

Andy Warhol’s Cinema: A Mirror to the Sixties

“Andy Warhol’s Cinema” from The Factory: 1963-1968

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2 Responses to “Andy Warhol’s Cinema: A Mirror to the Sixties”

  1. ElDoradoCasino Says:

    Great article!

  2. Warhol Fan - Tom Gurney Says:

    I enjoyed this article, and its great to hear about Warhol’s art, outside of just his paintings. His film and photography work is overshadowed by his paintings and its important to spread information about them. I am happy to Digg/Stumble Upon this article, and add to some article sites for you, if you like, as i enjoyed it alot. Let me know.
    Should give you some extra traffic.

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