Andy Warhol and Film

This weekend I finished viewing the Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures show at MOMA, which I began last month.  I am a big fan of Warhol’s films, as those of you who have been following these postings know.  Warhol freezes history in time and lets you into some of his “screen test’s” thoughts and fears while manipulating their movements and creating living, breathing portraits that never age.  So interesting how this is where we are full throttle these days, isn’t it?  Was he a soothsayer or were we always like this?  Definitely a visionary.

The ends of the room show screen tests of Edie Sedgewick, Lou Reed, Allen Ginsberg and Nico, of the Velvet Underground, starring into the camera, all but Nico giving away nothing, barely even a blink. With Nico, Warhol changes the view and angle of the camera periodically.  This minor shift of the camera betrays the insecurity and unsure depths of a troubled singer.  As I stared into Nico’s face, I began to feel uncomfortable myself.  Maybe because of the tragedy I knew was coming, but mostly from her discomforted eyes conveying inner sadness.

The figures on the side walls all seemed to be taking direction of some kind.  Since there is no sound on any of these films, there is no way of knowing what that direction was but each one seemed to be different – “superstar” Baby Jane Holzer brushing her teeth with sensual vigor, Paul America trying to keep a straight face but seeming to seduce the camera, Dennis Hopper seemingly frustrated as he apparently sings parts of a song; each screen test revealing its subject’s true self in some way.

At the end of the room is a large screen with a theater style seating arrangement.

Andy Warhol, Kiss

I spent just about an hour, sitting in the comfortable theater seats, watching the majority of Warhol’s Kiss, a composite of sequences of people kissing.  I was fascinated watching the variances in kissing technique and passion as I realized the first several pairings were men and women with the men older than the women and the men dominating, or being physically over, the women.  Just as I realized these details, the couples switched to dominant women who were older than their male partners, then racially mixed couples, then, finally, male couples.  Now, this is where it started getting interesting because as soon as two thirds of the men in the room realized that they were watching two men kissing, they jumped out of their seats like they had rockets in their pants, hmmmm….very suspicious.  I had to laugh.

This show runs at the MOMA through March 21, 2011.

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