Digitising Warhol: almost 500 withdrawn films to screen again

Hundreds of Warhol’s films, many never before seen by the public, will be converted to digital format through the partnership of The Warhol, MoMA and MPC


The partnership brings together a preeminent museum for modern art, a global leader in digital VFX, and the world’s most comprehensive single-artist museum. 

The project will once again make accessible approximately 500 titles that Warhol made between 1963 and 1972, then withdrew from circulation more than 40 years ago.

MPC will provide the scanning and artistic restoration to create new digital masters that retain all of the films' original character

Nearly 1,000 rolls of original 16mm film will be digitally scanned, frame by frame, and converted into high resolution (2K) images.

The process begins this month and will take several years to complete as the process of scanning is delicate. However once completely digitised the entire collection of Warhol films will be available for public screening.

Image: Andy Warhol, Nico/Antoine, 1966, ©2014 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved. Film still courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum.

Warhol obtained his first motion picture camera, a 16mm Bolex, in 1963. Starting with Sleep that year, he defied Hollywood-style film conventions by focusing his camera on a single object for hours on end.

He produced hundreds of short Screen Tests capturing portraits of friends, colleagues, and visitors to his studio, the Factory. From documentaries to dramas, Warhol made almost 600 films in all. His most commercially successful film was the 3½-hour, double-screen The Chelsea Girls (1966).

The use of film was integral to his 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 restructuring 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.

Image: Andy Warhol, Bob Indiana Etc., 1963, ©2014 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved. Film still courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum


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 amongst the most requested works MoMA’s Circulating Film Library.

Digitising these films will amplify both museums’ opportunities in the areas of public programming, lending to other institutions for public screenings, accessibility to scholars, and use in special presentations and performances such as those currently being produced by The Warhol.

"The Warhol’s mission is to be the global keeper of his legacy,” said Eric Shiner, director of The Warhol."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."

“This remarkable collaboration represents the largest effort to digitize work of a single artist in MoMA's collection,” said Rajendra Roy, The Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film at MoMA. “The results will allow us to maintain our custodial responsibility for the long term analog preservation of Andy Warhol's films, and will help provide broader access to them for research and theatrical exhibition.”

Image: Andy Warhol, Screen Test: Marcel Duchamp and Benedetta Barzini [ST 81], 1966, ©2014 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved. Film still courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum.

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To digitise the Warhol film collection, MPC partnered with digital asset management provider Adstream. This gives The Warhol and MoMA the ability to manage and share the digital film assets online from one platform anywhere around the world.

Justin Brukman, managing director of MPC NYC said: "Today our work and creative expertise covers a broad spectrum of media sectors and platforms. In recent years MPC has collaborated with a growing number of distinguished art institutions and artists and working with The Warhol and MoMA is a wonderful opportunity. The digitisation of these films is just the first phase of this project and we are all excited about exploring future opportunities together."

“We were looking for a technology partner that understood the importance of Warhol films,” added Patrick Moore, The Warhol’s deputy director and adjunct curator of the project. “These films warrant the same care as the most valuable canvases in our collection. As The Warhol celebrates its 20th anniversary year, it is critical that we honour Warhol’s films as a major product of his legacy.”

Image: Andy Warhol, Superboy (excerpt), 1966, ©2014 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved. Film still courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum.


The Warhol recently announced that 15 never publicly seen films, also digitally restored by MPC, will have their premier 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.

Image: Andy Warhol, Jack’s Cigarette (excerpt from Batman Dracula), 1964, ©2014 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved. Film still


Image: Andy Warhol, John Washing, 1963, ©2014 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved. Film still courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum.

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Image: Andy Warhol, Kiss the Boot (excerpt), 1966, ©2014 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved. Film still courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum.


Image: Andy Warhol, Marisol – Stop Motion, 1963, ©2014 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved. Film still courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum.