He stood in front of the photographs and spoke in a monotone voice, never removing his sunglasses. He wore a black button-down shirt and his fingers were laced with silver rings. His graying beard reached the middle of his chest. He was the photographer responsible for the silver color of Andy Warhol’s studio, the Factory.
At 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 29, faculty, staff, students and community members were enticed by Billy Name’s talk on the Samuel Dorsky Museum’s exhibit, “Andy Warhol: Private and Public in 151 Photographs,” in the Sara Bedrick Gallery at the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz.
Billy Name, 70, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., lived in and documented Warhol’s studio, The Factory, during the 1960s through his work as the official Factory photographer. Name gave insight on the Polaroid and 35mm film black and white photos Warhol shot between 1970 to 1986, which trample the tight rope between public and private affairs.
“It’s not necessarily great art or fine art,” said Name of the collection. “It’s more of the archival works or pre-screen works of potential paintings.”
Name said the photos are a mixture of Warhol’s photography techniques. He would shoot people with a Polaroid camera to aid to the selection process of an image in question for a silk screen, which would later become a painting from the silk screen.
“Andy was concerned with what he was capturing right now, not your history, your make up, the cake that you were baked as,” Name said. “Andy was interested in the cake as it stands now.”
Warhol would eliminate the details in a person’s personality during the photo shoot by making them wear something simple, without jewelry, to capture the realist element.
For Warhol, taking the photos in this manner was to be able to take a side step out of the room of the mainstream and say, “I don’t really do that, I do this.” This was a reflection of his personal life; which was never separated in his mind from his professional life.
Name considered Warhol radicalizing himself through this process of art making.
“He is that wizard from the village in the old world, the one that creates things and does magic with a shaman; the savant idiot,” he said.
In addition to the photographs, Warhol’s photo books included “Andy Warhol’s Exposures” by Andy Warhol and Bob Colacello. On the page left open, Warhol describes his need to bring his recorder and camera everywhere.
“It’s about being in the right place at the wrong time and capturing the essence of public and private lives that mesh,” said Name.
Fourth-year marketing major and art minor Andrew Hurley said in response to reading the open page, “I feel like I relate to this, – Andy Warhol’s self diagnosed social disease, – in that he feels he has to go out every night because he feels like he might miss something if he doesn’t go out.”
The concept for the exhibition was developed by students in the 2009 Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy program and Museum Studies courses led by art history Professor Reva Wolf and Brian Wallace, curator of the Dorsky Museum. The accompanying student-designed catalogue, a semester-long research process, includes essays written by the programs students.
“[The talk] was really valuable; I don’t think a lot of people have the resources to just hear someone talk who was involved with Warhol in the Factory,” said fourth-year art history and graphic design major Christine Davitt, who wrote one of the essays featured in the catalogue. “However, I would like to have heard more about their photographic relationship.”