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Warhol: Screen Tests

07.10.09 - 10.01.10

Warhol-Screen Tests 10
Potnia Thiron and Haunch of Venison are delighted to present the largest ever exhibition of Andy Warhol’s classic Screen Tests. Over three floors the gallery will screen 100 films to create a fascinating counter-point to the exhibition Warhol/Icon: The Creation of Image, which focuses on Warhol’s portraits and is being shown at the Byzantine and Christian Museum. Co-organised by Potnia Thiron and Haunch of Venison, which will be on display at the Byzantine and Christian Museum simultaneously, together providing an unprecedented perspective on one of the 20th century’s most innovative artists.
Andy Warhol’s obsession with fame generated some of the late 20th century’s most remarkable portraits. His motive was, he explained, ‘to make everybody look great’. Between these contrasting poles of fame and aspiration, the Screen Tests occupy a special position. From 1964-66, 189 individuals came to his Manhattan studio (the silver painted loft known as the Factory) to sit for portraits; the sittings involved each participant remaining immobile for around 3 minutes while being filmed by Warhol using a 16mm Bolex camera. The relationship between lens and face was simple but starkly confronational. There was no sound, no action, no narrative and no script. Each film was a unique record of the sitter’s response to the situation Warhol had created. In all he made 472 silent film portraits, known initially as ‘stillies’ before acquiring their later, definitive title of Screen Tests.
The range of sitters is diverse – including early Warhol superstar ‘Baby’ Jane Holzer, poet Allen Ginsberg, actor Dennis Hopper, filmmaker and Warhol’s chief assistant Gerard Malanga, actress and socialite Edie Sedgwick, singer Lou Reed, writer Susan Sontag and artist Salvador Dali. Collectively, the films are a fascinating record of the New York art scene in the 1960s.
As with the paintings, the films are underpinned by themes of sequence, repetition and series but whereas the portraits on canvas focus on the transformation of an original photographic portrait, the films engage with changes unfolding over time. Each of these portraits is a test – literally so – of the sitter’s resilience and stamina as they endure three minutes of nothing, a vacuum that each must fill while being closely observed by Warhol’s watchful Bolex. Projected at a slightly slower speed than the three minutes they took to record, the films reveal the sitter with a dispassionate but ruthless objectivity. Rather than making ‘everybody look great’ the Screen Tests probe an entirely different quality – not fame, but humanity at its most vulnerable.

Opening: Tuesday, October 06, 2009, 18:30 – 20:00
Dates: October 06, 2009 – January 10, 2010

Monday – Friday 10.00 – 21.00
Saturday 10.00 – 15.00

Potnia Thiron – Bank of Attention, will be open on Sunday 10.01.10, last day of Warhol: Screen Tests exhibition, from 9.30 to 17.30.