The most important artistic melting pot of the mid-1960s in New York, Andy Warhol’s Factory attracted various practitioners, celebrities, and an array of social misfits. Although the celebrated Pop artist was an electrifying person generating the atmosphere, the Factory was a result of a collective effort.
Each person belonging to his circle was in charge of something, Billy Name being the archivist. Coming from the light design background, this figure devotedly captured an array of activities that were taking place in the Factory and its main protagonists.
Name’s contribution to the Pop art legacy is grand, which is why David Hill Gallery decided to present an exhibition featuring his black and white images taken in the Factory in between 1964-and 1968.
Namely, in 1964, Andy Warhol found a new studio - a narrow floor-through loft with a solid street view from the fourth floor of an industrial building in midtown Manhattan. The Silver Factory was decorated by Billy Name after Warhol visited his apartment on the Lower East Side.
For the first couple of months, Name lived in a tiny closet at the Factory while covering every square centimeter in either silver foil or silver spray paint. Shortly after the decoration was finished, Warhol gave him a Pentax Honeywell 35mm camera and assigned him the role of resident photographer and archivist.
American writer Glenn O’Brien wrote the following sentences in his introduction to Billy Name: The Silver Age:
Billy, who had been Andy’s sometime lover, became his principal architect and decorator, his secretary, his archivist, his studio manager, security man, night watchman and bouncer, his casting director, his handyman, his photographer, his electrician, his magician. Billy was the one Andy counted on.
Name photographed everyday happenings with Andy, including constant visits and a general atmosphere in the Factory. The images taken in 1965 are mostly depicting Edie Sedgwick and numerous situations caught during the filming of three major films: Girls in Prison, Vinyl and The Life of Juanita Castro.
On the other hand, the ones taken by Name the following year are more focused on the presence of the Velvet Underground, and the atmosphere of dark glamour that dominated Warhol’s studio during this period expressed in songs such as I’m Waiting for the Man, All Tomorrow’s Parties, Venus in Furs, and Heroin.
In 1970 Billy abandoned the Factory, but he left all of his negatives behind. After Warhol passed away in 1987, the Warhol Foundation reached Billy to offer him the negatives; he willingly accepted and produced this series of silkscreens from the negatives.
The exhibition curated by David Hill, who worked with Billy Name in 2015, will be the first UK survey of his photography since his death in 2016 and coincides with the major Warhol retrospective at the Tate Modern.
Presented by David Hill Gallery, Billy Name: Silkscreens of Andy Warhol’s Factory Photographer will be on view at at 230 Portobello Road, London W11 from 12 until 22 March 2020.
Featured image: Billy Name - The Velvet Underground, 1967; Billy Name - Flowers paintings at the Factory, 1964. Silkscreen. All images courtesy of David Hill Gallery.
Brooklyn, New York, United States of America