From Bob Dylan to Lou Reed: Revisit Andy Warhol’s iconic screen tests
Taking another dip into the Far Out vault we’re taking a look at one of the most iconic figures of modern art, Andy Warhol and his obsession with film that saw him cross paths with everyone from Bob Dylan to Dennis Hopper.
During a small two year window, Andy Warhol became infatuated with cinema. In 1964, the pop artist who had found himself being evermore thrust into the public limelight was captivated by the medium. Ever since his ‘American Supermarket’ show had become the toast of the town, Warhol had begun to find himself ever more drawn into the underbelly of New York.
With this infamous arthouse Factory in place, Warhol went about creating some of the most iconic images and movements of the sixties, much of which still resonates to this very day. One aspect that may not have seen Warhol grab the headlines but was clearly close to his heart was his off-the-wall filmmaking.
Between 1964 and 1966 the mercurial artists made a staggering number of films, with over 500 films being produced in that short window. While some were no more than ego and amphetamine-induced soft porn, others held a deeply significant cultural touchpoint, that would set the standards for modern film today.
Yet our most favourite piece of this work to watch is the now-iconic screen tests of some of the decade’s most poignant faces. A perennial beauty magpie at heart, picking up the most beautiful thing he could find before setting it down for the next, Warhol became a collector of these candid moments.
Below we’ve selected some of the most iconic screen tests for your pleasure. You’ll find Bob Dylan‘s awkward exchange with Warhol, as well as Nico before she joined the Velvet Underground, Edie Sedgwick just a few short years before her overdose, Dennis Hopper looking every bit the idol he was, and finally, Lou Reed making refrigerators look like ovens with his cool demeanour.
It makes for an engaging window into the abundant creativity of the decade as well as the ferocious and fickle mind of Andy Warhol.
Dylan and Warhol’s relationship was never a truly fond one. While many have suggested that Warhol hindered Dylan’s suspected relationship with Edie Sedgewick (rumoured to be the content of ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, there was something about the pair that never clicked.
Still, his role in this short film is still very worthwhile watching and brings back reminder sof the juxtaposing figures of the sixties.
Of course, one of the shining lights of Andy Warhol’s reign in New York was the German model, Nico. Arriving as a singer-songwriter in her own right, Warhol quickly became infatuated with the potent figure of the blonde powerhouse.
Naturally, Nico would join in with The Velvet Underground at a later date but even without this Warhol was a huge fan.
The acclaimed actor Dennis Hopper was never one to shy away from a challenge. Be it trying to keep less-stoned than Jack Nicholson on the set of Easy Rider or trying to smuggle cocaine into a psych ward for Iggy Pop while dressed as a spaceman. Hopper isn’t afraid of anything.
We can just imagine the wry smile he got when he received the call from Warhol to take part in the screen test. It’s a charged and electric performance.
The aforementioned darling of Dylan’s eye, Edie Sedgewick was the ultimate ‘It’ girl during the sixties in New York. A stunning face with a wild personality meant Warhol was captivated by her every movement, for a little while at least.
Her screen test is stark and ultiatley increidbly revealing as she allows Warhol to penetrate her soul with his lens.
Another lasting figure of the 1960s was Lou Reed. A mainstay of the Factory, Reed’s position as the frontman of The Velvet Underground meant he was easy pickings for Warhol who quickly got him in front of a camera.
Staring blankly through sunglasses while sipping on a glass bottle Coca-Cola is about as pop art as it gets and now with the film set to Reed’s song, the clip is complete.