MoMA and The Warhol to Digitize Complete Warhol Film Collection

Pictured: Andy Warhol. Nico/Antoine. 1966. ©2014 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute.

Huge news for modern art fans in New York: Hundreds of pop-art icon Andy Warhol’s films, many never before seen by the public, will be converted to digital format through a new partnership announced by The Warhol, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and MPC, a global leader in visual effects.

The project will make approximately 500 Warhol titles from 1963-1972 that were withdrawn from circulation more than 40 years ago available to the public. Nearly 1,000 rolls of original 16mm film will be digitally scanned, frame by frame, and converted into high resolution (2K) images. The scanning, which will begin in August 2014, will take several years to complete as the process is delicate. However, once completely digitized, the entire collection of Warhol films will be available for public screening.

The films themselves have been housed, conserved, and in some cases exhibited at MoMA since the early 1990s as part of the museum’s collection of some 22,000 films, and are among the most requested works in MoMA’s Circulating Film Library.

“The Warhol’s mission is to be the global keeper of [the artist's] legacy," Eric Shiner, director of The Warhol, said in a statement. "Making it possible for curators, scholars, and the public to see Warhol’s total output as a filmmaker for the first time is a major step toward achieving our goals. These films stand alongside Warhol’s greatest works and are as significant as his paintings.” 

The use of film was integral to Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable (EPI), a multi-sensory experience of projected images, light, and live music, first introduced in 1966 at The Dom in New York City. An evocation of EPI was recently unveiled as part of The Warhol’s 20th-anniversary reimaging of its galleries. The renovated exhibition space also includes another new gallery that allows for easily retrievable, touch-screen access to more than 100 Warhol films and videos. The Warhol’s total in-house film holdings include 60 feature films, 279 Screen Tests, and more than 4,000 videos—the entire output of the artist’s work in that media. 

“There are many, many Warhol films that have either never been seen by the public or have been seen in less-than-ideal presentations," Geralyn Huxley, curator of film and video at The Warhol, explained. "It has long been my dream to make all of his films available to everyone, and they will be astonished by the range and vibrancy of the film work.”

The Warhol recently announced that 15 never publicly seen films, also digitally restored by MPC, will have their premiere when Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films debuts later this year. This performance combines the films with live music written and performed by Tom Verlaine, Martin Rev, Dean Wareham, Eleanor Friedberger, and Bradford Cox. It was jointly commissioned by The Warhol, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance. Exposed opens in Pittsburgh at the Carnegie Music Hall (Oakland) on October 17, 2014, with subsequent performances at Royce Hall at UCLA on October 24, and as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 2014 Next Wave Festival taking place at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in New York on November 6-8, 2014.

Good to know: Visitors looking to stay close to MoMA should check out The Warwick and the new Baccarat Hotel just across the street.