Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again

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“Andy's work really goes to the heart of the matter of what it means to be a human being and what our potential is…It's the real deal.” —Jeff Koons

Hear from a range of contemporary artists, curators, and scholars speaking about iconic works on view. Contributors include Jeff Koons, Hank Willis Thomas, Deborah Kass, Peter Halley, Sasha Wortzel, and Richard Meyer.

Andy Warhol's Silver Flotations, 1966

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Narrator: In the late sixties, Warhol began using new technologies to make art. This video shows one result of his experiments, the Silver Clouds. He made them with the engineer Billy Klüver. 

Julie Martin:  Andy said, I’d like to have a floating light bulb, in other words taking a quotidian object and doing something else with it.

Narrator: Julie Martin, one of Warhol’s technological collaborators, was married to Klüver. 

Julie Martin: So Billy went back to the labs and he and his colleagues calculated that you’d have to have a bulb almost as big as a house to lift the batteries that were available in those days. But in the meantime, a neighbor of his gave him this material, this heat-sealable Mylar from 3M and said, maybe you’re interested in this. Billy took it to Andy and Andy said, oh this is great, let’s make clouds. So Billy went back to the lab and they began to see if you [could] heat seal curves, which wasn’t done in those days. In the meantime, Andy just took the material, folded it over, sealed the edges, and made what he called Silver Clouds. I think this is a very much an artist response to the material, to working in the most simple way, the most physical way. But then of course you get this incredible thing, sculpture, with no weight, and sculpture that moves and responds to the environment.

Black and white photograph of silver floating balloons

Narrator: In the late sixties, Warhol began using new technologies to make art. This video shows one result of his experiments, the Silver Clouds. He made them with the engineer Billy Klüver. 

Julie Martin:  Andy said, I’d like to have a floating light bulb, in other words taking a quotidian object and doing something else with it.

Narrator: Julie Martin, one of Warhol’s technological collaborators, was married to Klüver. 

Julie Martin: So Billy went back to the labs and he and his colleagues calculated that you’d have to have a bulb almost as big as a house to lift the batteries that were available in those days. But in the meantime, a neighbor of his gave him this material, this heat-sealable Mylar from 3M and said, maybe you’re interested in this. Billy took it to Andy and Andy said, oh this is great, let’s make clouds. So Billy went back to the lab and they began to see if you [could] heat seal curves, which wasn’t done in those days. In the meantime, Andy just took the material, folded it over, sealed the edges, and made what he called Silver Clouds. I think this is a very much an artist response to the material, to working in the most simple way, the most physical way. But then of course you get this incredible thing, sculpture, with no weight, and sculpture that moves and responds to the environment.


Rudy Burckhardt, Andy Warhol Silver Clouds at Leo Castelli, 1966. Gelatin silver print, 6 7⁄8 × 10 in. (17.5 × 25.4 cm). Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. © 2018 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Estate of Rudy Burckhardt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York