Andy Warhol Brendan Gill - Essay

Brendan Gill

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The speed and ease of [Warhol's] movie-making are based on the theory that nothing that an artist produces in the course of his work can fairly be called a mistake; everything he has done being of value because he has done it, all accidents are equally benign, and to have second thoughts about them, much less to consider "correcting" them, would be not only a waste of talent, time, and money but also a rude betrayal of the original inspiration. This appealingly circular theory has permitted Warhol to accumulate a very large number of movies in a very brief period of time; I have seen some of most of them and most of some of them, if not all of any of them, and I find that they run together in memory without boundaries—a vast human comedy that, in its serene mindlessness, resembles a mountain of sludge oozing slowly, relentlessly forth over the face of the earth and threatening to immortalize us all and engulf us all.

It is a comedy not to be judged by ordinary standards, since on Warhol's terms to be boring is every bit as interesting as to be interesting, and I perceive that I run the risk of seeming to praise Warhol when I say that I find his latest sampling of news from nowhere—a movie entitled "∗∗∗∗" in apparent homage to the News' well-known system of rating movies—much less entertaining than its immediate predecessor, "The Nude Restaurant."… The characters in "∗∗∗∗" are conventionally indistinguishable natives of the unconventional Warhol country; they sing and take drugs and make love and dance on the beach and sleep and eat and scratch and talk and talk and talk, and are as nearly all of one scruffy, tiresome family as so many Forsytes. At its opening, "∗∗∗∗" is reported to have run for twenty-five hours; it has since been cut to two hours, and it is no doubt a triumphant vindication of Warhol's principles that the cutting away of over ninety per cent of his movie is undetectable.

Brendan Gill, "The Accumulator," in The New Yorker (© 1968 by The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.), Vol. XLIII, No. 46, January 6, 1968, p. 74.∗