"All my films are artificial. But then everything is sort of artificial. I don't know where the artificial stops and the real begins"

- Andy Warhol

During his lifetime Andy Warhol had a hand in the production of around 4,000 individual films, at last count, including all of his short screen tests. Of these 4,000, The Warhol museum currently holds only 273 films and The Warhol Museum is the only place to view almost any of them. Most of his films still purchasable today are the later more marketable ones primarily created by Paul Morrissey (Heat, Trash, and Flesh) and a few of Warhol's more famous cult films (Blow Job, Andy Warhol's Dracula, Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, and Fuck or ****). In part this was because Warhol was so unconventional in his movies that they sent audiences running for the door. Some of his more infamous ones, like Empire which a 24 hour long movie that consists entirely of long shots of the empire state building and Sleep which is six hours of a single mounted camera watching a man sleep, emphasize how far Andy was willing to go out of his way to break convention. Warhol was so dismissive about current convention, in fact, that he would shoot entire scenes without film in the camera and pulled Factory members for extras in almost all of the films. During his earlier films (like Blowjob), he would often mount a single camera and simply film without cuts, but as one moves along in Warhol's film career the cuts get quicker and the angle changes (a common convention in cinematography today) become vicious and numerous, slicing up dialogue without apology.

Of course, commenting on Warhol films and technique is a difficult thing due to his close association with Factory cinematographer Paul Morrissey. There are many films where Paul directed and Warhol did the camera work and others where Paul claimed to have produced the film in its entirety (the in case of Heat) but later gave commentary about what Andy thought of the film and suggested. The easiest way to cover the films, and the way many critics have been doing it for quite some time, is to give Warhol credits for those films that his name bears, just as he is given credits for works silk-screened by other factory members. Warhol did come up with almost all the titles and concepts for his films, though he did not do all the directing, editing, or writing, he was the creative force behind them, so this section will focus more on the ideas behind the films and how Warhol used them to break current convention about how art is displayed.

To begin with, Warhol considered films art. Not just art films, but all films, and he raves in his diaries about the commercial theatre in the 60's and how American the whole concept is. Of course, Warhol validated art films as well (he commented later on in life that, though they are boring, they are the only ones that come up with any new ideas), but his concept of the camp and kitsch as valid forms of entertainment was so far from the current modernist perspective (particularly the perspective espoused by Clement Greenberg) that it is impossible not to see the revolution Warhol made on film. Anything was fair game for filming with Andy, fag-hags, dances, dinners, inanimate objects, posed people and those unaware of the action. It really didn't matter what was filmed or if what was filmed was real. Essentially, Warhol was trying to hold the same mirror up to the word with the camera that he did with his paintings and the inability to tell reality from fiction was part of it. The concept of the fiction being more real than reality was also one that interested him immensely about the theatre (see above quote), and his fascination over the glorification of theatre icons infiltrates his movies just as it does his art (see Celebrity). Warhol once said, "The best atmosphere I can think of is film, because it's three dimensional physically and two dimensional emotionally." To him, the film medium was just another effective way to display his concepts with an added dimension.

For a complete List of Warhol's film credits, click here.

For film clips of Flesh, Trash, and Heat, click here.

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