Underground Film Journal

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Andy Warhol Would Have Been 83 Today

By Mike Everleth ⋅ August 6, 2011

A young Andy Warhol looking through the viewfinder of his 16mm bolex camera

Andy Warhol, the insanely influential and iconic multimedia pop artist, was born on Aug. 6, 1928. He would have been 83 today. He passed away on Feb. 22, 1987 following complications due to gall bladder surgery, which really sucks because one gets the feeling that Andy would have totally loved and embraced the Internet and incorporated it into his work.

Warhol made the bulk of his films between 1963 and 1968 when he became notorious for shooting extremely long movies of monotonous tasks. Many of these movies were named after the task performed on camera, including Sleep, Eat, Kiss and Haircut.

But the most notorious of his static films is 1964’s Empire, a non-moving cinematic portrait of the spire of NYC’s Empire State Building that, when screened, runs for 8 hours. Empire was photographed by Jonas Mekas and the filming of which was named theĀ Underground Film Journal’s sixth most outrageous moment in underground film history.

Warhol eventually moved into making films with slight “plots,” plus natural acting and performances with his Factory crew, including 1966’s Chelsea Girls, one of the most successful — at least financially — underground films of all time. After 1968’s Lonesome Cowboys, Warhol pretty much stopped making movies, although he would attach his name as a producer to the solo films of his longtime collaborator Paul Morrissey, such as Heat, Trash and the 3-D Flesh for Frankenstein.

In 1984, Warhol did direct a music video for The Cars for the song “Hello Again,” in which he appears as a bartender. The video also seems to reference his early work including one actress saying the New York skyline is one big phallic symbol, a clear reference to Empire.

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