Thursday, October 16, 2014


A few years back while roaming around the Brooklyn Museum I stumbled upon televisions playing a variety of Andy Warhol "Screen Tests" (1964-1966),  those wonderful black and white portraits that showed Warhol's fascination with people,  their subtle facial movements,  their discomfort with the camera's gaze,  and their sometimes anxious presentation of "self". That art is often about time and memory gives these glimpses of individuals added historical and personal resonance. All these short "living portraits"  benefit from being shown in slow motion and from the inference of seriality that stems from seeing them en masse. Collectively they run for thirty two hours  and form a kind of casual portrait of a particular cultural stew,  that of New York in the Sixties in general, and the Silver Factory's inhabitants and visitors in particular.  I must say I was stunned by their fluid beauty, quiet intensity, and ultimately Warhol's potency as a portraitist without resorting to idealization, sentimentality,  or the tired techniques of traditional portraiture that can easily turn to illustration.  Not bad for someone who started life as a commercial illustrator.

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