Hundreds of Andy Warhol Films Digitized

The initiative is set to transform understanding of the artist’s oeuvre.

Andy Warhol Photo via: Weareselecters
Andy Warhol Photo via: Weareselecters

It could be the start of a radical reappraisal of Andy Warhol’s prolific production: MoMa and The Andy Warhol Museum have teamed up to digitize Warhol’s entire film collection . Some 500 films by the American Pop artist have been part of the MoMA archive since the early 1990s but are rarely exhibited due to their extreme fragility.

Led by visual effects specialist MPC, the project will involve scanning over 1,000 rolls of film, frame by frame. The behemoth task started this August and could take several years to complete.

Although several Warhol films—including the 8-hour long Empire (1964) and The Chelsea Girls (1964) —have long been considered iconic, most of the artist’s moving image work remains under-explored, particularly in relation to his extensive pictorial production.

Patrick Moore, the Warhol Museum’s deputy director and curator in charge of the project, told The New York Times: “I think the art world in particular, and hopefully the culture as a whole, will come to feel the way we do, which is that the films are every bit as significant and revolutionary as Warhol’s paintings.”

Warhol was an inexhaustible filmmaker. In the five years between 1963—when he acquired his first 16mm Bolex—and 1972, he produced over 600 films. Long before the days of Facebook and Instagram, Warhol obsessively documented his activities and social circle, although the artist himself rarely appears on screen.

“The Warhol’s mission is to be the global keeper of his legacy,” said Eric Shiner, the director of The Warhol, “making it possible for curators, scholars, and the public to see Warhol’s total output as a filmmaker for the first time is a major step toward achieving our goals.”

Fifteen films never before shown publicly will be screened as part of Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films, which will feature new live soundtracks provided by the likes of Tom Verlaine, Dean Wareham and Eleanor Friedberger. Exposed will premiere at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Music Hall next fall before touring to UCLA’s Royce Hall, and New York’s BAM Howard Gilman Opera House.


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