Partnership to digitize discovered Warhol films

| Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, 2:20 p.m.

Thirty-six years after his death, Andy Warhol continues to surprise us.

In April, a team of cyber sleuths discovered 28 previously unseen images the Pittsburgh-born pop artist created in 1985 while experimenting with computer-generated art.

Recently, Warhol made an unexpected appearance on one of the nearly 1,000 rolls of 16 mm film he created during a project to convert them to a high-resolution digital format.

“I don't think he'll ever stop surprising us,” says Patrick Moore, the deputy director and adjunct curator at the Warhol Museum on the North Side.

Until now, it was thought that Warhol never appeared in any of his films.

But during the project's test run in April, Warhol appeared in “Me and Taylor,” a 1963 completed work that Moore describes as “a funny, slightly disturbing silent film with Taylor Mead.”

On Aug. 11, the Warhol Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and MPC, an Oscar-winning digital visual-effects studio, officially embarked on a collaborative project that will provide wider digitized access to 500 titles that Warhol made from 1963 to 1972, then withdrew from circulation more than 40 years ago.

“No one is sure why he withdrew them,” Moore says. “These are not only completed films but outtakes, projects he abandoned or turned into another film.”

Since the early 1990s, the films have been part of the film collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City where some have been exhibited.

Digitizing the films will not only help preserve them but make them easier to distribute and share with scholars and the public.

The project is expected to take several years, because the film is delicate and must be scanned frame-by-frame. Curators also want to study and evaluate the entire body of work before it is released.

“If we find a previously unknown screen test ... it would be the same as if we found an unknown Warhol canvas. We want to understand the provenance: is this an actual film or an outtake,” Moore says.

However, 15 never publicly seen films, including the one in which Warhol appears, will debut Oct. 17 when “Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films” has its world premiere at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. The films were digitized by MPC. The show will include live music.

Subsequent performances of “Exposed” will take place Oct. 24 at Royce Hall at UCLA in California and Nov. 6 to 8 as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's 2014 Next Wave Festival at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in New York City.

Alice T. Carter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808, or via Twitter @ATCarter_Trib.

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