Andy Warhol Shoots “Screen Tests” of Nico, Bob Dylan & Salvador Dalí

Just the oth­er day, I had a chat with a well-known poet who laid out for me his the­o­ry that Andy Warhol invent­ed our con­cep­tion of mod­ern Amer­i­ca. When we think about this coun­try, the poet explained, we think about this coun­try broad­ly in the way that Warhol (and thus his dis­ci­ples) envi­sioned it. We here at Open Cul­ture have cov­ered sev­er­al of the forms in which the artist pro­mul­gat­ed his dis­tinc­tive brand of Amer­i­cana, and today, for the 85th anniver­sary of his birth, we’ve round­ed up a few of his famous “screen tests,” the short films he made between 1963 and 1968 that offer por­traits of hun­dreds of fig­ures, famous and oth­er­wise, who hap­pened to pass through his studio/social club/subcultural hot zone, The Fac­to­ry. Just above, you can watch Warhol’s screen test with Nico, the Ger­man singer who would become an inte­gral part of the Fac­to­ry-formed band the Vel­vet Under­ground.

Lit­tle-heard at the time but ulti­mate­ly high­ly influ­en­tial, the Vel­vet Under­ground’s sound shaped much Amer­i­can pop­u­lar music — and giv­en pop­u­lar music’s cen­tral­i­ty back then, much of Amer­i­can cul­ture to come. You may not nec­es­sar­i­ly buy that argu­ment, but sure­ly you can’t argue against the influ­ence of a cer­tain singer-song­writer by the name of Bob Dylan, Warhol’s screen test with whom appears just above.

Com­ing from a Pol­ish immi­grant fam­i­ly, and seem­ing­ly ded­i­cat­ed to the cul­ti­va­tion of his own out­sider sta­tus his entire life, Warhol under­stood the impor­tance of for­eign­ers to the vital­i­ty of Amer­i­can cul­ture. Nat­u­ral­ly, he did­n’t miss his chance to shoot a screen test with Sal­vador Dalí, below, when the Span­ish sur­re­al­ist came to the Fac­to­ry.

See also our pre­vi­ous post on Warhol’s screen tests with Lou Reed, Den­nis Hop­per, Edie Sedg­wick, and oth­ers. When you’ve watched them all, con­sid­er con­tin­u­ing your cel­e­bra­tion of life in Andy Warhol’s 85th birth­day with the Earth­Cam and The Warhol Muse­um’s col­lab­o­ra­tion Fig­ment. It offers live cam­era feeds of not only his grave but the church where he was bap­tized. Com­par­isons to the view­ing expe­ri­ence of Empire are encour­aged.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Three “Anti-Films” by Andy Warhol: Sleep, Eat & Kiss

Andy Warhol’s One Minute of Pro­fes­sion­al Wrestling Fame (1985)

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

A Sym­pho­ny of Sound (1966): Vel­vet Under­ground Impro­vis­es, Warhol Films It, Until the Cops Turn Up

The film Andy Warhol: A Mir­ror of the Six­ties has been added to our list of 550 Free Movies Online.

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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Comments (3)
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  • Thom hickey says:

    Thanks for these. Fas­ci­nat­ing. Dylan could nev­er real­ly fit into the Warhol world .. He was nev­er courtier mate­r­i­al!

  • Ondrej says:

    “Com­ing from a Pol­ish immi­grant fam­i­ly,” — His fam­i­ly immi­grat­ed from Miková, North-east­ern Czecho­slo­va­kia. They were not Pol­ish, or Slvoak but rather Rusyns — Rusyns are a minor­i­ty which live on the bor­der between Slo­va­kia, Poland, Ukraine and Hun­gary.

  • Edie Sedgwick says:

    Fan­tas­tic! Thanks so much for shar­ing these Col­in! I’m new to your site, but I real­ly sup­port Open Cul­ture! It’s so frus­trat­ing that so many of these Screen Tests aren’t view­able on the Open Web. Like you, I’ve trolled around and tried to find the ones that peo­ple have put up.

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