Tuesday 12 February 2013

Andy Warhol’s ‘Screen Test’ of Bob Dylan

From: Open Culture, March 14, 2012, and Pop: The Genius of Andy Warhol, by Tony Scherman and David Dalton. 

Between 1964 and 1966, Andy Warhol used a 16mm Bolex camera to make 472 short films of people, both famous and obscure, who came to visit his “Factory” on East 47th Street in New York. The idea of calling them “Screen Tests” was something of a joke.

“None of these screen tests amounted to giving those people the opportunity to go on in the underground film world. It was kind of a parody of Hollywood.”
The exact date of the session is unknown. Scherman and Dalton write that it most likely occurred in January of 1966, just before Dylan’s world tour. Some witnesses say it happened in late July of 1965, around the time of Dylan’s historic “electric” performance at the Newport Folk Festival. Whatever the date, by all accounts it was an awkward, chilly encounter.

Dylan pulled up at the Factory in a station wagon with his friend, Bob Neuwirth. From the beginning, according to Scherman and Dalton, it was clear that Dylan was determined to demonstrate his superior cool. “As for Andy’s motives,” they write, “he was clearly star-struck, in awe of Dylan’s sudden, vast celebrity. He had a more practical agenda, too: to get Dylan to appear in a Warhol movie.”

But Dylan wasn’t having it. After the sullen Screen Test, he walked over to a large painting of Elvis Presley that Warhol had already set aside for him as a gift and, by one account, said “I think I’ll just take this for payment, man.” He and Neuwirth then lifted the painting, which was nearly seven feet tall, carried it out of the studio, down the freight elevator and into the street, where they strapped it—with no protection whatsoever—onto the roof of the station wagon and drove away.

Dylan didn't like the painting, Double Elvis, so he traded it with his manager, Albert Grossman, for a sofa.
The painting is now in the Museum of Modern Art. ________________________________________________________________________

Dylan never lost his interest in film. His music appears on the soundtrack of almost 400 movies and TV shows. He himself can be seen in a few of them.

As Alias in Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)
With Rick Danko and Robbie Robertson of The Band in The Last Waltz (1978)

He won an Academy Award for the song he wrote for Wonder Boys (2000)
He also wrote the screenplay for Masked and Anonymous (2003)
Meanhile, here's his original "screen test" for Andy Warhol.

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