Revisit Bob Dylan’s iconic screen test for Andy Warhol, 1965
Recording on a Bolex 16mm camera and 100-feet rolls of film, Andy Warhol set about filming Bob Dylan as part of his growing number of short films.
It’s estimated that Warhol created in excess of 472 short films between 1964 and 1966 alongside his trusted assistant Gerard Malanga. Of those mass amount of films, the likes of Edie Sedgwick, Salvador Dali, Nico, Marcel Duchamp, Allen Ginsberg, Dennis Hopper, Lou Reed and Susan Sontag all posed for Warhol at his infamous Factory Studio on New York’s East 47th Street.
Warhol, who created the film series and labelled them ‘Screen Tests’ as part of an ongoing joke. Malanga, his assistant, once said: “None of these screen tests amounted to giving those people the opportunity to go on in the underground film world,” in a 2009 interview. “It was kind of a parody of Hollywood.”
In late July 1965, a time when Dylan had just performed his now historic ‘electric’ performance at the Newport Folk Festival, he strolled into Warhol’s studio and became his subject. With two rolls of film lined up for a close-up and a wide shot, Warhol let the camera roll and captured Dylan.
Warhol biographers Tony Scherman and David Dalton, who created the book Pop: The Genius of Andy Warhol, wrote that “he [Warhol] was clearly star-struck, in awe of Dylan’s sudden, vast celebrity. He had a more practical agenda, too: to get Dylan to appear in a Warhol movie.”
Callie Angell writes of the meeting: “The day Bob Dylan visited the Factory and had his Screen Test shot is a fabled episode in the lore of the Warhol 1960s, most notably as the occasion when Warhol gave Dylan a silver Elvis painting, which Dylan later gave to his manager Albert Grossman in exchange for a couch. Bob Dylan had significant connections with a number of people at the Warhol Factory; he was a friend of Barbara Rubin’s, who introduced him to Allen Ginsberg; he wrote a song for Nico, ‘I’ll Keep It with Mine’, which she later recorded. His manager Bob Neuwirth encouraged Edie Sedgwick’s defection from the Factory at the end of 1965… and he was also friends with Patrick Tilden-Close, the star of Warhol’s 1967 film Imitation of Christ.”