Underground Film Journal

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Andy Warhol — Marie Menken

By Mike Everleth ⋅ July 29, 2017

Andy Warhol by Marie Menken. Competed 1965.

Marie Menken made several films inspired by and starring artists she knew, such as Visual Variations on Noguchi (1945) and Arabesque for Kenneth Anger (1961). According to Warhol’s memoir Popism: The Warhol Sixties (written with Pat Hackett), in 1963 Warhol was brought by his friend Charles Henri Ford to a party hosted by Menken and her husband Willard Maas at the couple’s apartment in Brooklyn Heights. Warhol and Menken hit it off immediately and he would go on to cast her as an actress in his films, such as Chelsea Girls and The Life of Juanita Castro.

Andy Warhol walking in front of one of his portraits of Jackie Kennedy

Close to the same time, Warhol was also introduced to Gerard Malanga, who would become Warhol’s main art assistant throughout the ’60s and who is featured prominently in this short film. In Popism, Warhol describes Menken and Maas as “sort of godparents” to Malanga.

Andy Warhol presents a rare look into the artist’s working process. Warhol, who called his art studio The Factory, preferred to give the illusion that his art was totally mechanically produced. But here, we see him doing his actual silk screening, stapling canvases to frames, and adding paint touch-ups to works in progress.

In the book Eyes Upside Down, P. Adams Sitney describes the film:

Andy Warhol (1965) is indeed a portrait of the Pop artist as a frenetic producer of multiple objects. At the comic apex of this film she cuts from fast-motion scenes of Warhol’s assistants making Brillo boxes and a crowded gallery celebrating their exhibition to trucks at a Brillo storage depot loading boxes onto train cars. The creation and consumption of art, in this film, becomes functions of mad hyperactivity and herd stampedes.

The only text credit in the film is the opening title card that says “Andy Warhol by Marie Menken”. The original source of the above bootlegged movie is unknown.

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