by Landon Palmer.
When Andy Warhol made the switch from painting to filmmaking, he took popular culture by surprise. Warhol was hardly the first artist of his era to traverse media, but he was one of the most prominent and famed, a decidedly off-kilter celebrity who created a personality not fit for prime-time yet nonetheless held a continued presence in prime-time.
But the most shocking thing about Warhol’s films was the ways in which they presented the exact opposite of his notorious artwork. Where Warhol’s paintings and prints explored the ubiquitous presence of major movie stars, his own films cast a troupe of eccentric outsiders deemed the alternate universe superstars of his own downtown “factory.”
Where Warhol’s paintings created “original” works of glossy, mass-produced products familiar to everyone in a society inundated by advertising (e.g., the infamous Campbell’s soup can), his films were raw, deliberately unpolished, often unedited events that challenged the inherently manufactured nature of the film medium (and, thus, they’re frustratingly hard to see outside of big cities).
Whether you delight for a rare screening of the double-projected Chelsea Girls or scoff at the very idea of Empire, Warhol’s films captured a unique place and time in which uninhibited self-expression was king and even the movies could be a happening.
So here ‘s some free advice (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the snow-haired savant who did with cinema what an extraterrestrial might do with the English language.
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