Experimental 60's film with Pete gets rare screening

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 7 20:08:11 CDT 2007

>From The Independent:

Warhol-inspired artist takes another look at celebrity

By Arifa Akbar, Arts Reporter 
Published: 08 October 2007

When Andy Warhol lured the likes of Bob Dylan, Lou
Reed, Salvador Dali and Alan Ginsberg to sit,
immobile, in front of his camera, the result was the
Screen Test series of films, which sparked admiration
and outrage in equal measure.

The films also inspired Peter Gidal, an up-and-coming
British artist, to use the same technique to capture
the London scene. He enlisted some of the country's
most celebrated personalities, plus visiting stars, to
sit before his camera and do precisely nothing for
three minutes.

Gidal's finished film, Heads, features the faces,
uncomfortable and often bewildered, of Francis Bacon,
Pete Townshend, Marianne Faithfull, David Hockney,
Charlie Watts, Richard Hamilton and Thelonious Monk.

Now, for the first time since the 1960s, the National
Portrait Gallery will bring together Screen Tests and
Gidal's work as part of Pop Art Portraits, in which
parallels between American and British artists are

Gidal said that it was only after seeing Warhol's
works that he became inspired by celebrity subjects.
"I wanted to show that they may be stars but when you
look at their faces, they become just another face. It
was an attempt at equalisation."

He told his subjects to gaze into the camera without
moving or saying anything – and was surprised by the
results. Bacon painstakingly posed in front of his
art, while the Who guitarist Pete Townshend stared
into the camera with an unflustered, ironic smile and
the Jazz pianist Thelonious Monk began singing and

While Warhol's films left space around the heads of
his subjects, Gidal wanted his frames to be more
claustrophobic, with the faces looking magnified and
constrained. "I wanted my camera to be a complete
authoritarian imposition," he said.

Sandy Nairne, the director of the National Portrait
Gallery, said the show gives an insight into how
portraiture has been reinvented and invigorated by
photography and film. Other works in the show range
from Richard Hamilton's contact sheet of Marilyn
Monroe photographs to works by Roy Lichtenstein, Peter
Blake and Hockney. The show opens on Thursday and runs
until 20 January.

-Brian in Atlanta
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