Early exhibition of Warhol films

From: Callie Angell
Date: Sun, Mar 7, 1999, 7:25 PM
Subject: re early exhibition of Warhol films

(On Sat. Mar. 6, Scott Stark asked about early exhibitions of Warhol films, and Sheila Murphy produced some examples from POPism.)

I've been documenting the exhibition history of the Warhol films. I think you can say Warhol was interested in showing them in as many ways as possible -- in fact, I think he thought (in some vague way) that exhibition was a way of completing a film, which could be shown again under different circumstances or combined with other films in an almost infinite number of ways. By 1966, almost of all of his films were shown in double screen, and usually shot for double screen as well.

Anyway, off the top of my head, I can list the following:

a) beginning in 1963, most films were premiered by the Filmmakers Coop/cinematheque in NY, usually in a movie theater -- most films reviewed by the NY papers, with constant praise for their film historical significance from Jonas Mekas in the Village Voice;

b) most films were also rented ('63 through '68) via the Filmmakers Coop, shown in film societies and colleges around the country;

c) all films screened at the Factory, of course, often during parties;

d) some films shown in art galleries (Ferus Gallery in LA in 1964);

e) excerpts of 4 silent films shown on rear screen 8mm loop projectors at the NY Film Festival at Lincoln Center ("little crank-up machines in the lobby"), with a single-note soundtrack by LaMonte Young, Sept. 1964

f) Beauty #2 shown at a discotheque called The Scene in 1965, with dancing, filmed by Warhol;

g) one version of 13 Most Beautiful Women projected on 3 walls during a party at Sally Kirkland's home at the end of 1964;

h) many of the Warhol films, in various combinations, projected in double and triple screen, with colored lights and slides, behind performances of the Velvet Underground, beginning in Jan. 1966 and continuing into '67 in The EPI performances; some films shot specifically for these EPI projections;

i) The double-screen Chelsea Girls (which incorporates some EPI techniques) playing successfully in a regular movie theater in the fall of 66 in NY, and then moving on to national theatrical distribution in 1967 and 68;

j) Screen Tests projected behind poetry readings by Gerard Malanga in the late 1960s;

k) feature films, beginning with My Hustler and later films like Bike Boy, I a Man, etc. playing regularly in Times Square "sexploitation" movie houses and gay cinemas, beginning in 66-67, also in subdistribution on the west coast in similar venues;

l) Earlier Warhol films projected in double screen with each other (i.e., Horse paired with Vinyl, etc.) in a series at the Filmmakers Cinematheque in the summer of 1967;

m) the multi-screen superimposed 25 hour version of **** ("Four Stars") [84 color sound 33-min reels) projected only once at NY City movie theater in Dec. 1967 and then released in a multi-screen 2-hour version right afterwards;

n) the commercial release of Lonesome Cowboys, Blue Movie and the Morrissey films via regular commercial distributors;

o) additional showings of some films on WKQED in San Franciso, on German television, in distribution in Europe and Great Britain, in Warhol's art exhibitions in museums, and a screening of the full-length Empire in a Tokyo dept. store in 1974 ....The films removed from circulation around 1970, except for the occasional screenings by Ondine of Vinyl, Chelsea Girls, etc. in later years.

Regarding Scott Stark's question ("Did he want his audience to storm out in anger or was he really into studying the subtle nuances that people are now finding in them (or both)?") I'd say "both." Warhol was fascinated by his films, watched them for hours and hours with rapt attention, had very high standards for them which he was pretty secretive about (keeping notebooks, shooting test rolls, reshooting, etc.) -- but was also entirely calculating about their shock value and its effect on his image, which he certainly played with and enjoyed. I don't know how to explain this exactly: that Warhol could sincerely rave about how "great" Empire is, actually complain that more people weren't going to see it, and yet also exploit its notoriety to the hilt. Some artists are like this, though: they assume the entire world will be interested in their obsessions -- which is why they make films in the first place, right? I myself don't think Warhol was wrong -- in fact, I think we're just beginning to catch up to him...


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Andy Warhol Work