As part of his exhibition, Nelson Henricks has carefully curated a program of 15 Screen Tests produced by Andy Warhol between 1964 and 1966. This selection brings together the practice of the two artists. In his installation Heads Will Roll, Henricks presents the bodies and faces of performers in such a way as to invest them with the monumentality, or a sculpturality, that he perceives in the subjects of Warhol’s Screen Tests. Beyond aesthetics, this parallel is also echoed in notions queerness and in the collaboration with a community of actors/agents.

Activity available with the regular ticket of the Nelson Henricks exhibition.

Andy Warhol (1928–87) is best known as a pop artist, but he wasn’t just a painter. Between 1963 and 1968, he and his associates at the Silver Factory in New York made hundreds of films. Some of them are legendary due to their minimalistic simplicity or erotic content. Others are notorious for their extreme duration, with running times of up to five, eight, and even twenty-five hours.

Warhol also made short films. The 362 Screen Tests (1964–66), with an average duration of four minutes, are portraits of 189 people in Warhol’s orbit, many of whom were documented on multiple occasions. A small selection of them is presented here. If the 107 films made for the unfinished project Six Months (1964–65) are included, the total number of Screen Tests rises to 471. It would take about twenty-four hours to project all the authenticated screen tests one after another—an opus that would rival Warhol’s other durational works.

The basic recipe for a screen test was simple: people were asked to sit for the camera and remain motionless until the film ran out. Some works in the series break this rule, due to rebellious subjects, in-camera editing, or camera movement. In their adherence to minimalist or conceptualist strategies, Warhol’s films upended underground filmmaking and anticipated early experiments in video art.

Presenting a program of Warhol films comes with the baggage of the Warhol myth. To my mind, the films are the most effaced version of Warhol. Did he operate the camera or did one of his assistants? Or did he turn on the camera and walk away (as he is rumoured to have done)? Either way, the artist steps back and we are overwhelmed by the onscreen subject. I am not watching a Warhol film. I am watching whoever appears onscreen. The question of authorship falls away or becomes fluid enough that the subjects begin to co-author the work. In this way, Screen Tests nods toward intersubjective acknowledgment. What does it mean to look and be looked at? What can we learn from looking at someone’s face? What do we become when we assemble ourselves for the eye of another?

Nelson Henricks, Curator of the Screen Tests screening program

Sterling Morrison [ST224] 4 min
Donyale Luna [ST195] 4.5 min
Dennis Hopper [ST153] 4.5 min
Nico [ST246] 4.3 min
Kyoko Kishida [ST 183] 4.5 min
John Cale [ST40] 4.1 min
Jane Holzer [ST142] 4.5 min
Rufus Collins [ST61] 4.3 min
Marian Zazeela [ST362] 4.5 min
Noburo Nakaya [ST 229] 4.5 min
Lou Reed [ST265] 4.4 min
Mario Montez [ST222] 4.5 min
Deverne Bookwalter [ST027] 4.5 min
Maureen Tucker [ST344] 4 min
Philip Fagan [ST95] 4.5 min

Made possible with the collaboration of the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, USA, a museum of Carnegie Institute.