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Andy Warhol’s Kiss, Blow Job, and Sleep

Andy Warhol. Kiss. 1964. 16mm film transferred to video (black and white, silent), 58 min. at 16 fps. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Courtesy The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Digital media management by MPC New York Film scanning by Technicolor-PostWorks New York. © 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • MoMA, Floor 4, 411 The David Geffen Wing

In 1963, the filmmaker Jonas Mekas enthusiastically reported in the Village Voice that Andy Warhol was working on “the longest and simplest movie ever made”—of a man sleeping. Warhol had recently acquired a movie camera and would embrace film as a primary pursuit for the next half decade, attracted to its unique ability to explore time. The portraits that make up this loose trilogy, some of Warhol’s earliest films, range from 40 minutes to over five hours and reflect his impulse to observe human behavior and sexuality. Shifting from the celebrities and consumer goods depicted in his silkscreens, Warhol chose more personal subject matter, filming members of New York’s vibrant underground cultural scene, many of whom congregated at his newly opened studio, the Factory. Warhol’s gaze—on the couples he paired up in Kiss, the golden-haired scenester filmed from the waist up in Blow Job, and the artist’s lover John Giorno in Sleep—is simultaneously detached and erotic. With its extended takes, rhythmic editing, and fixed camera angles, Warhol’s cinema abstracts the body as much as it studies it.

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