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Andy Warhol Film Project

ABOUT THE FILMS

The films Andy Warhol made in the 1960s are among the most significant works in the career of this prolific and mercurial American artist. In the short span of five years, from 1963 through 1968, Warhol produced nearly 650 films, including hundreds of silent Screen Tests, or portrait films, and dozens of full-length movies, in styles ranging from minimalist avant-garde to commercial “sexploitation.” Warhol’s films have been highly regarded for their radical explorations beyond the frontiers of conventional cinema. With works such as Empire (1964), his notorious eight-hour film of the Empire State Building, My Hustler (1965), a social comedy about gay life on Fire Island, and the double-screen The Chelsea Girls (1966), the first avant-garde film to achieve extensive commercial exhibition, Warhol redefined the film-going experience for a wide range of audiences and attracted serious critical attention as well as much publicity. In 1970, the artist withdrew his films from distribution; for the next twenty years, most critics and scholars could only reconstruct these works from reviews and other verbal accounts.

ABOUT THE PROJECT

The Andy Warhol Film Project began in the 1980s when the Whitney Museum and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) agreed to collaborate on the largest archival research project in the history of American avant-garde cinema: to catalogue Warhol’s massive film collection, investigate its history, and preserve and re-release all of the films in conjunction with a program of scholarly research and publication. Warhol himself gave his approval to the Whitney’s project and handed over his original films to MoMA for cataloguing and storage in 1984. The joint project was launched publicly in 1988 with the Whitney’s exhibition, The Films of Andy Warhol, and with MoMA’s release of thirteen newly preserved titles.

The extensive research undertaken by the Whitney will culminate in the publication of a two-volume catalogue raisonné of the Warhol films, which will include complete filmographic entries, film stills, and exhibition histories. The first volume of the catalogue raisonné, Andy Warhol Screen Tests, was published by Abrams in collaboration with the Whitney in 2006. The second volume of the catalogue raisonné, which is forthcoming and will include a comprehensive annotated bibliography for both volumes, will address the balance of Warhol’s film work.

Other Warhol exhibitions at the Whitney have included The Films of Andy Warhol: Part II (1994), which premiered fourteen newly preserved films, and Andy Warhol: Outer and Inner Space (1998), a double-screen installation of Warhol’s pioneering film-and-video portrait of Edie Sedgwick from 1965.

The archives of the Andy Warhol Film Project at the Whitney Museum are not yet open to the public, but specific written inquiries may be directed to warholfilms@whitney.org.

Resources

The Andy Warhol Film Project at the Whitney and the preservation of Warhol’s films by The Museum of Modern Art were funded by grants from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.