Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests Make Their Way to Times Square

The artist’s short films have never been shown to the public before, until now.

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Andy Warhol will make his presence known throughout May, lighting up New York’s Times Square with silent short films known as Screen Tests. From 1964 to 1966, Warhol created over 500 of these never-before-seen-by-the-public shorts in his Silver Factory studio. During this time, his studio had become a scene for celebrities and artists who posed for short, silent film portraits. At 11:57 pm each night in May, these screen tests will be shown on Times Square’s electronic billboards. These “Midnight Moments” will last until midnight each night. The greatest movie Andy Warhol ever made featured the Empire State Building. More than just a setting, the building was also the starring actor, impassively playing itself while Warhol filmed it with his tripod-mounted Bolex from 8:00 PM until 2:30 AM on July 25, 1963. Screened unedited and in slow motion, Empire is one of the longest movies in existence, made to seem infinitely longer because there’s absolutely no movement. Yet Warhol didn’t need hours to make a movie seem interminable. With his Screen Tests(1964-66), he managed to compress an eternity into approximately three minutes. These glimpses of perpetuity are masterful movies in their own right. And every night this month between 11:57 and 12:00, a selection of Screen Tests will illuminate one of the fastest-paced places on the planet – New York’s Times Square – screened simultaneously on the electronic billboards between 42nd and 47th Street. Warhol made his Screen Tests by having people act like architecture. Visitors to his studio ­– including Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg and Susan Sontag – were placed in front of his camera and told not to do anything at all. Some tried to comply by staying perfectly still. Others tried to rebel by melodramatically misbehaving. Almost all were defeated by the second or third minute. (Even the supremely self-possessed Susan Sontag couldn’t stop fidgeting.) Lacking scenery, direction and purpose, Warhol’s sterile setup made time as empty as a vacuum. And while the Empire State Building was impervious, people were rapidly sucked into the void. Through the Screen Tests, each micro-eternity is experienced vicariously. In recent years, some of the Screen Tests have been shown in museums. They’re well worth watching closely, but museums were not Warhol’s preferred milieu. He screened them in endless loops as backdrops for rock concerts. With the Screen Tests (and Empire), he reconceived movies as a sort of temporal ambiance. Their timekeeping dimension has finally been restored this month in Times Square.

Andy Warhol, Screen Test: Edie Sedgwick [ST309], 1965. 16mm film, black-and-white, silent, 4.5 minutes at 16 frames per second. ©2015 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved. Film still courtesy The Andy Warhol Museum

The footage to be shown includes Rufus Collins, Walter Dainwood, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Donyale Luna, Nico, Lou Reed, Twist Jim Rosenquist, Edie Sedgwick and Harry Smith.

MIDNIGHT MOMENT May 2015: Andy Warhol “Screen Tests 1964-66”

Here is a glimpse of what it actually looked like on Times Square.

Original article here!

4 thoughts on “Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests Make Their Way to Times Square

  1. I had a hippie New Age friend who was convinced I was the reincarnation of Edie Sedgewick LOL. <–skeptic, of course! 🙂


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