Billy Name, Andy Warhol’s One-Time Lover and Factory Photographer, Dies at 76

Name was the one that made the Factory silver.

Self-portraits of Billy Names.Photo via @sissydude Instagram.
Self-portraits of Billy Names.
Photo via @sissydude Instagram.

Billy Name, Andy Warhol’s former lover and the Factory’s in-house photographer in the 1960s, died yesterday, July 18, 2016. He was 76 years old.

“It is with tremendous sadness that we would like to announce that our dear friend and iconic artist Billy Name has begun his next great adventure. We mourn the loss of this important cultural figure and are thankful to have had the opportunity to work with him. We express our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones,”said a statement from New York’s Milk Gallery, which held an exhibition of Name’s work in 2014.

The gallery has requested to keep the cause of Name’s death private, out of respect for his family, the Huffington Post reports.

Born William Linich Jr in 1940, Name fled his hometown of Poughkeepsie, New York, for the big city’s avant-garde downtown art scene. He worked with seminal figures such as LaMonte Young and the Fluxus group, with a second job as a waiter, which was how he met Warhol, according to the Guardian.

Name had not been in good health for a while, dealing with recurring illnesses such as diabetes. His death follows that of Holly Woodlawn last year, Puertorican actress and Warhol superstar. Many others died young, such as Nico, Candy Darling, Edie Sedgwick, and Warhol himself was not even 60 at the time of his death.

One of the few surviving characters that passed through Warhol’s infamous Factory studio is Joe Dallesandro, who shared some tender words on his Facebook page following Name’s death: “Billy was the one who made the silver Factory silver, working with Gerard Malanga and was every bit an artist as anyone else at the Factory. Soon all of us will be gone but because of Billy most of the history is recorded on film. May his journey home be peaceful.”

Soon after meeting at Serendipity 3, the New York restaurant that Name worked at, him and Warhol became lovers, and before long Name would become the pop artist’s right-hand man.

Name had transformed his East 5th Street apartment into a futuristic art installation, with the walls pray painted silver and covered in aluminum foil. During a party at Name’s apartment, Warhol was captivated by this look and eventually had Name give his factory the same treatment. This began the ever-expanding train of responsibilities that Name would have in Warhol’s life.

The more time went on, the more Name took on; from decorator, secretary, and factory manager to casting director, photographer, and even electrician.

Soon enough, Name moved into Warhol’s factory and fashioned himself a darkroom out of a bathroom. His photographs, mainly candid black-and-white shots, recorded all the wild characters who passed through the factory. From in-house superstars such as Edie Segwick and Dallesandro to celebrities like The Velvet Underground and Nico, Name’s photos captured the extravagance of the Factory in its prime.

As for Name’s famed photographic career, he actually never intended to become a photographer until Warhol handed him a camera and asked him to record the comings and goings of his studio. That might have been another of Warhol’s talents: to spot unique talents before anybody else.

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