Andy Warhol. Empire. 1964
Andy Warhol

Empire

1964
Not on view
Medium
16mm film (black and white, silent)
Duration
8 hrs., 5 min. at 16 frames per second
Credit
Original film elements preserved by The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
Object number
7531
Copyright
© 2015 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Department
Film

Empire consists of a single stationary shot of the Empire State Building filmed from 8:06 p.m. to 2:42 a.m., July 25–26, 1964. The eight-hour, five-minute film, which is typically shown in a theater, lacks a traditional narrative or characters. The passage from daylight to darkness becomes the film’s narrative, while the protagonist is the iconic building that was (and is again) the tallest in New York City. Warhol lengthened Empire's running time by projecting the film at a speed of sixteen frames per second, slower than its shooting speed of twenty-four frames per second, thus making the progression to darkness almost imperceptible. Non-events such as a blinking light at the top of a neighboring building mark the passage of time. According to Warhol, the point of this film—perhaps his most famous and influential cinematic work—is to "see time go by."

The work on view is a two hour, twenty-four minute excerpt. The film will be screened in its entirety in the Museum theaters during the run of this exhibition.

Gallery label from Out of Time: A Contemporary View, August 30, 2006–April 9, 2007

Additional text

Empire consists of one stationary shot of the Empire State Building taken from the forty-fourth floor of the Time-Life Building. Jonas Mekas served as cameraman. The shot was filmed from 8:06 p.m. to 2:42 a.m. on July 25-26, 1964. Empire consists of a number of one-hundred-foot rolls of film, each separated from the next by a flash of light. Each segment of film constitutes a piece of time. Warhol's clear delineation of the individual segments of film can be likened to the serial repetition of images in his silkscreen paintings, which also acknowledge their process and materials.

Warhol conceived a new relationship of the viewer to film in Empire and other early works, which are silent, explore perception, and establish a new sense of cinematic time. With their disengagement, lack of editing, and lengthy nonevents, these films were intended to be part of a larger environment. They also parody the goals of his avant-garde contemporaries who sought to convey the human psyche through film or used the medium as metaphor.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 240

Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource

Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource