Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol Demystify Their Pop Art in Vintage 1966 Film

By the mid-six­ties, Roy Licht­en­stein and Andy Warhol had come to define a cer­tain cur­rent of process-inten­sive, only super­fi­cial­ly sim­ple Amer­i­can visu­al art. Licht­en­stein cre­at­ed his work using process­es and mate­ri­als devel­oped for tra­di­tion­al com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion; Warhol devel­oped meth­ods for pro­duc­ing his work as if they were tra­di­tion­al com­mer­cial prod­ucts. This half-hour doc­u­men­tary cap­tures both artists in 1966, dis­cussing their meth­ods in inter­views and exe­cut­ing them in their stu­dios. Licht­en­stein speaks clear­ly and in great detail about how he finds the Amer­i­can land­scape “made up of the desire to sell prod­ucts,” how he decid­ed to por­tray in his paint­ings “an anti-sen­si­bil­i­ty that per­vades the soci­ety” with­in a “struc­ture of half-tone dots and flat print­ed areas,” and his dri­ving notion that “what­ev­er approach one uses, he ought to go as far as he can with it, in order to make as much impact as pos­si­ble.”

Warhol, though, as jour­nal­ists who encoun­tered him will winc­ing­ly remem­ber, was­n’t much for inter­views. Or rather, he grant­ed inter­views, but respond­ed most­ly in ways that rein­forced his per­sona of unknowa­bil­i­ty — indeed, of con­tain­ing noth­ing to be known. “Andy Warhol’s ret­i­cence about him­self masks a unique sen­si­bil­i­ty,” reads the nar­ra­tor. That’s one way of putting it. Here he tells his inter­view­er, who main­tains an admirable equa­nim­i­ty through­out, how nice it would be if he could just be told what sen­tences to answer with, and then repeat them. Yet behind his opaque-look­ing sun­glass­es and inter­cut with footage of his var­i­ous projects, Warhol reveals things, and inter­est­ing ones, about the whats, hows, and whys of his grand enter­prise. He even revealed a detail about his imme­di­ate plans to which audi­ences of 1966 would’ve done par­tic­u­lar­ly well to pay atten­tion: “We’re spon­sor­ing a new band. It’s called the Vel­vet Under­ground.”

Andy Warhol and Roy Licht­en­stein will be added to our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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