THE friends, critics and colleagues who discuss Andy Warhol and his career in Lana Jokel’s 1973 documentary say much the same things that obituary writers observed about him in February. At the time this film was made, the perception of Mr. Warhol as a brilliant manipulator, a dedicated voyeur and man of keen commercial judgment was already in place.
So were the thoughts – expressed here by a critic, David Bourdon, and a film maker, Emile de Antonio – that there might be more effort and radicalism to Mr. Warhol’s work than met the eye. As was the idea, voiced by Harold Rosenberg, an art critic, that ”the primary creation of Andy Warhol is Andy Warhol himself.”
”Andy Warhol,” a short (53-minute) profile opening today at the Public Theater, features a good deal of Mr. Warhol himself, glancing craftily at the camera as he says such things as: ”I don’t think people really like art. It’s just displayed nicely in museums.” Mr. Warhol is also seen at the Factory, supervising the production of early issues of Interview, and in the country, playing with a dog in a garden. These casual scenes contrast markedly with the film’s more studied interview footage, in which he concentrates more carefully on being Andy Warhol. At one point, after having talked animatedly for a while, he says ”I think I could stare for 10 minutes without blinking” and proceeds to adopt the more familiar, blank-faced Andy Warhol mien.
The film also includes clips from various Warhol films, including the sequence from ”Lonesome Cowboys” in which two wranglers practice ballet exercises, using a hitching post as a barre. Of particular interest are the comments of Mr. de Antonio, who speaks perceptively and somewhat tartly about Mr. Warhol’s obsession with celebrity, and who finds as much interest in Mr. Warhol’s methods as in the work itself. Mr. Bourdon discusses the ways in which early Warhol drawing prefigured the later work, and analyzes the deceptive simplicity of the latter.
This documentary, which does its best to be comprehensive about the Warhol career, has a rambling, unstructured style that befits Mr. Warhol’s own approach to film making. (Interviewed here, Henry Geldzahler, Ithen the Metropolitan Museum’s curator of 20th-century art, talks of how he sat in a chair smoking a cigar before a running movie camera while Mr. Warhol, who shot enough of this footage for an entire feature, made phone calls in another room.) The film also incorporates comments from Clement Greenberg, Barbara Rose and other art critics, and sounds a variety of different notes about Mr. Warhol, from the flippant to the unexpectedly astute. When Mr. Warhol remarks that ”Culture is slowly disappearing” – a process to which he undoubtedly contributed – it is both. 15 Minutes ANDY WARHOL, directed by Lana Jokel; photographed by Mark Woodcock, Roger Murphy and Miss Jokel; produced by Michael Blackwood; a Michael Blackwood Production. Running time: 53 minutes.